This is my first review of a DJ so any commentary (good or bad) would be much appreciated. I am reviewing a mixtape from a young producer out of the Boston area named Teddy Roxpin (play on the teddy bear “Teddy Ruxpin”). He has worked with artists such as Fokis & Punchlyne, The Camp, M-Dot and many others. He has been featured on major music publications like the Source and online sites, over at Kevin Nottingham. This is his latest mixtape titled Theo Ruxtable (play on “Theo Huxtable” from the Cosby Show). So far I have only reviewed albums that were compiled to show someone’s talent as a rapper but this time the mixtape is compiled by someone showcasing their DJ/producer skills by making new beats.
Beginning to make a mixtape like this brings a lot of questions that do not usually arise when thinking of a flow or concept for a tape. First, what songs should one use? Teddy is not producing new words, so he literally has every single hip-hop song ever made at hand to remix and put his own spin. This cd has a pretty wide variety of artists, which keeps the cd interesting; from Ludacris to Jay-Z to Skyzoo to Gangstarr to Afu-Ra, Teddy enjoys and knows hip-hop, a lot of hip hop. There is a big challenge in choosing your songs – if you remix a bad song, people will question if they should listen to a bad song even if it has a new beat AND if you remix a good song then there is the question of why people should listen to a remixed version if they already think the original is good. Finding the middle ground seems like a crazy task. And while I do not think that every song he chose was improved by the new beat, I do think that all of them are good on their own level and at least different from the song that most people have heard. My favorite track hands down is his remix of Stand Up by Ludacris, which slaps with Teddy on the boards. It is tough because most of the songs were written with a different beat in mind, so to make a new song that flows with the lyrics is seemingly impossible to someone with no experience doing it (me!). Once I feel comfortable answering the question “what the hell is he doing!?!?” and the beat subsequently passing the initial test, my next question is “will I ever listen to this over the original?” And once again, my answer for each song is “yes!” I am not going to forget the original song, and with some of them, I will still choose the original 99% of the time, but I can definitely think of a situation where I would prefer Teddy’s remix for any given song.
My other major compliment is that no two tracks seem alike. I do not hear anything recycled from one song to another and most of the songs are in completely different styles! Teddy makes beats with soul samples like a professional, makes beats with any instrument you could think of: horns, winds, or even strings, and also makes those classic drum heavy simplistic old school beats that one might find on a street corner in Brooklyn in 1987. He remakes a beat without changing the sound of the song completely; if the song was originally a head banger with a killer bass line, Teddy doesn’t try to do too much, he just makes a new head banging beat with a different killer bass line. He is adventurous without being stupid and demonstrates his knowledge of hip-hop throughout.
I would say that my only “complaint” is that he is extremely ambitious in his song selection. I understand, as stated above, that there is a fine line in choosing songs that people like while giving them reason to listen to your version. But throughout his three mixtapes that I have, I feel that there are just too many classics for a producer that is still coming up. Unfortunately it is different for DJ Premiere to remix Life’s a Bitch by NaS than for me to do it; obviously Teddy Roxpin is much more credible than me but to those who have never heard of him, it could come off as cocky which could lead to people missing out on worthwhile beats.
Check out his myspace for more info.
I also just learned that he produced three songs on Apathy’s new album Wanna Snuggle? which is in stores now! GO OUT AND SUPPORT! Here are those songs: