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Singles Mixer

Thunderbird Juicebox takes club back to its roots and Wordsmith expands his reach

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Photo: , License: N/A

Thunderbird Juicebox, “Gator Don’t Play” It feels like, between the production mania of Schwarz and the steady return of DJ Jonny Blaze—of the SpongeBob SquarePants remix fame, of course—and plenty of other Baltimore-based club DJs/producers, that the good old club-music novelty is back in fashion. There was a period a couple years back when then still-rising big names Blaqstarr and DJ Class suggested the genre was moving toward a more pro, R&B thing, with singing and choruses and an all-around radio/copyright-friendly sound. And “novelty” is probably not the right word, seeing that the club canon is built around raw cut ‘n’ paste goofballery, but from the outside looking in, you might agree that Thunderbird Juicebox, another manic young dude (Jared Fite to the government) with a bottomless stable of remixes, chopping up Will Ferrell shouting “I’ve got my big boy pants on!” into rib-rattling percussion, might fit in with club’s current, fertile wave. (It helps that the aforementioned cut-up comes as kind of a surprise.) But, no, that’s just club.

The song, “Gator Don’t Play,” is pretty nice otherwise, balancing that more raw DJ-booth sampling with a fun “farty” synth-bass line and a bright keyboard sample. You could spend some serious time on the Thunderbird Juicebox Soundcloud page and find tracks over a whole range of club styles, some of them more developed than this, but “Gator Don’t Play” is at the very least enough to keep you listening.

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Wordsmith, “Music for the Masses” Even by Wordsmith standards, this is one hell of a heartfelt rap song. Whether it’s the half-sung chorus in Wordsmith’s trademark near-whispery voice of “I pray to the lord above, that he spreads my music like love/ nah nah nah/ I love the way the music hits my soul” or the soaring cinematic synths in the background or those couple of saddish guitar chords that open the whole thing, he’s wide open. (Dunno if producer Strada is really blowing the doors off hip-hop with this, by the by.) Flow-wise, Wordsmith has a few more styles, of course, and shifts between them like a finely tuned transmission, dropping what almost sounds like a guest verse in his own song at one point, a hard-edged commanding rap jutting sharply out of hip-hop tending more toward smoothness. Like a lot of Wordsmith’s stuff, “Music for the Masses” feels a bit like a statement of purpose, a cross between a personal tapping of soul and a treatise from Baltimore rap’s guardian angel. It’s the second single of his upcoming King Noah mixtape and contrasts interestingly with the first, the chills-awesome wrath-rap “Grudges and Growing Pains.” It’ll at least be interesting to see where the release goes as a whole and how it all resolves. Wordsmith remains an unpredictable force.

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