by Andrew Wright

DJ Spinna

Sat Oct 18


DJ Spinna's sets transcend the just-a-guy-playing-records stigma of the DJ performance. Listeners won't be thinking about the dreadlocked dude on stage or concentrating on shaking their asses; the burly basslines and percussive pulse make motion as involuntary as a post mortem twitch. Instead, they'll start crafting their own rise-and-fall plots to accompany his emotionally evocative roller-coaster-of-love mood swings, turning a mere boogie night into Boogie Nights.

Speaking of the '70s vibe, every retro-themed club that's currently overplaying "Brick House" and "Dancing Queen" should be forced to invest in Spinna's three-disc box set Strange Games & Things. On this remarkable collection, he superfreaks Rick James' "Mary Jane," shocks the house with Sugarhill Gang's "Passion Play" and gives in to temptation with Eddie Kendricks' "Girl You Need A Change of Mind." His crates run deep, but Spinna isn't just assembling an old-school mix tape. He tweaks each tune with just the right amount of disco grooves and electrodazzle, modernizing the music without bastardizing its feel.

When he's not flashing back to the past, Spinna is establishing hiphop cred without stooping to gimmicky collaboration compilations such as the infamously terrible Blade II soundtrack. (Was kickin' it with Paul Oakenfold really what Ice Cube had in mind when he wrote "We Be Clubbin'"?) Spinna's hooked up with Das EFX, Talib Kweli, MC Eiht, Mos Def and Grand Puba, and he dropped wax for Rawkus Records back when that label owned the underground. Oh, and lest anyone think he only works with cult sensations, he's also worked with Michael Jackson and George Michael, who, recent notoriety aside, are some pretty fat names to include on a remix résumé.