Moodymann is one of the world’s most influential house producers, and his hefty DJ-Kicks mix did an excellent job of showcasing just what makes him stand out from the pack. To celebrate its release we asked six trusted selectors to tell us about their favorite track from the Kenny Dixon Jr. catalog. As DJ Qu points out, this is no mean feat when you consider the scope of Dixon’s output on labels like Planet E, Peacefrog and his own KDJ imprint. Here, Qu joins seasoned selectors Mike Huckaby and Detroit Swindle, plus fresh talents EB interviewee Palms Trax, Rinse FM host Josey Rebelle and Rewind subject Shanti Celeste to explain what makes his most-played Moodymann cut so special.
Mike Huckaby: “Midnights” on Soul Sounds (Soul City 1996)
“One of my favorite Kenny Dixon Jr. tracks would have to be ‘Midnights’. The compression on it is great and still can hang by today’s standards. Much thought went into the arrangement of this track. It’s set up to deliver a groove based around some deep house sounds and a few samples. It’s timeless, simple and effective. They definitely don’t make them like this anymore.
I also love ‘The Third Track‘ from his Don’t Be Misled! EP on KDJ. It’s a long, effective track with a good intro and a good break to mix out of after it’s played for a while. You can easily spot me playing this track when I’m DJing.”
DJ Qu: ” Sunshine” on Mahogany Brown (Peacefrog 1998)
“First off, I’ve noticed that trying to pick a favorite Kenny Dixon Jr. track will result in a lot of sleepless nights. When I think of a track that represents Kenny’s sound, for me it would have to be ‘Sunshine’ off the Mahogany Brown LP. This track just hits the spot and epitomizes the distinct sound that Kenny brought to the scene. So much personality shines through, even in a sample-based track. It’s definitely no accident that Kenny Dixon Jr. is one of the most inspiring, influential and important artists in our scene. Long Live Kenny!”
Josey Rebelle: “The Telephone” on The Telephone (Peacefrog 2001)
“The power of Moodymann’s music is that it manages to harness all these sounds, times, places and emotions so effortlessly. The groove on ‘The Telephone’ somehow brought back floods of memories before I’d even got through my first listen—how many tracks can make you yearn for the past while simultaneously dreaming of summer nights to come? Of course, the experience of listening to music is entirely subjective, but there aren’t many artists out there who consistently have that effect despite having built such a huge and immensely varied back catalog over the years.”
Palms Trax: “Freeki Mutha F cker” on Det.riot ’67 (KDJ 2008)
“I think this video is my favorite Moodymann-related thing on the world wide web. It’s a clip of him performing ‘Freeki Mutha F cker’ from the Det.riot ’67 LP live at various shows across Japan. No one has owned a chair like that since Kurt Cobain in ’93. If you’re looking for a track you can buy, ‘Tribute‘ is hard to beat.”
Detroit Swindle: “Shades Of Jae” from Shades Of Jae (KDJ 1999)
“This track was, for both of us, the introduction to Moodymann’s productions. It’s a perfect example of the sort of house music he excels in. ‘Shades Of Jae’ feels like one big jam—working that great Bob James sample (Spunky) with complete disregard for ‘timing’ with the percussion randomly entering and leaving again… It’s so much of a tease that it hurts. And perhaps that’s what really makes this a Moodymann track.”
Shanti Celsete: “A1” from Untitled (KDJ 2004)
“I love this track because it’s a cheeky tension builder. It’s also quite euphoric, so it’s versatile. It’s really fun to mix, especially with a tougher kick drum. After building that tension, it really works.”