The next time somebody says “Young people nowadays are just a bunch of self-entitled do-nothings that think they don’t have to work at anything while everything should be given to them” point them toward A-Trak. Born in 1982, the kid won an international DJ competition at 15. He’s the only person to have won 5 DJ World Championships. While still a teenager he developed a notation system for scratching. At age 22 he joined Kanye West as West’s live performance DJ. He has done production work for Lupe Fiasco among others. In the spring of this year he released two DJ mix CDs, both different and both good.
One of those mixes, Fabriclive 45, was so hot it took over my computer while I was trying to write a review. Infinity+1 isn’t as hot as Fabriclive 45 but it’s still good. Both mixes illustrate A-Trak’s familiarity with the worlds of hip-hop and club-oriented dance music. Of the two, Infinity+1 is the more hip-hop influenced while Fabriclive 45 is more of a straight-up club mix. The generally more sedate tempos of hip-hop may be the reason why Infinity+1 comes across as the less driving of the two mixes. Infinity+1 is also the more consistent mix as it lacks the buzz-kill track that brings Fabriclive 45 to its knees part way through the set.
The only point of connection between the two mixes is A-Traks inclusion of his own “Say Whoa” on both sets. ZZ opens with A-Trak’s version while Infinity+1 includes a remix by DJ Spinna. It takes a good degree of confidence to take the chance that somebody might show you up with a remix of one of your own tracks. Especially somebody who can bring it like DJ Spinna. No worries. Both versions work on their own terms.
The closely timed releases of Infinity+1 and Fabriclive 45 highlight how well A-Trak operates with both hip-hop and house music. Very few DJs could have pulled this off as well as A-Trak has. The two sets also illustrate how adept he is at drawing smooth connections between the two types of music. A-Trak also shows a remarkable subtlety of touch in bridging to dance music from a predominantly hip-hop base on Infinity+1 while doing precisely the opposite on Fabriclive 45.
Both Fabriclive 45 and Infinity+1 are more than worth a listen. If you tend more toward dance music, start with Fabriclive 45; more toward hip-hop, start with Infinity+1. In either case each mix can open the ears of listeners who enjoy one kind of music to the pleasures of a different kind of music and that is a noteworthy achievement in and of itself.
A-Trak’s remix of MSTRCRFT (Feat. N.O.R.E.)’s “Bounce”