Moodymann - Moodymann

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  • At times it feels like Moodymann has an abusive relationship with his fans. Depending on where you bought it, the vinyl version of his latest album could cost as much as €37—the price of a collector's item or even a box set. And that's assuming you could actually get one: despite the price, copies of Moodymann flew off the shelves in days, and at the time of writing were being resold on Discogs for around €80. In a scenario all too common for Detroit producers like Dixon Jr., Moodymann sent diehard fans on a rat race to see who could overpay first. The lucky ones were rewarded with an image of their tormentor as a cackling demon, cognac in hand, harem of tiny women at his service. He seemed to be saying: "Yep, I'm a bastard. What are you gonna do about it?" There's a simple reason we put up with these shenanigans: Moodymann is one of the best house artists ever, and after 20 years he's still somewhere near the top of his game. Like most of his records, his self-titled LP shows a talent that stretches well beyond house music, weaving together funk, soul, hip-hop, jazz and R&B into a rich and unpredictable bricolage. (It's got its bangers, too: "No" and "Sunday Hotel" are some of Moody's meanest club tunes in years). The 27-track CD/digital version is especially fun: filled with odd little nooks and crannies between the main tracks, it tackles the so-called "album format" with a style and ease that's truly rare in house. The slightly uneven, sample-heavy sound brings to mind J Dilla (another cut-and-paste genius from Detroit, and one who's appeared on Dixon Jr.'s label), but the overall delivery is pure Moodymann. One thing that's always set Dixon Jr. apart is his habit of making himself the main character of his music, and this is truer than ever on Moodymann. We hear his voice much more than usual—it's always been an ingredient, but now he's doing lead vocals, most notably on "Lyk U Used 2," a 185 BPM pop song produced by Andrés. At times he sounds more like a rapper than a DJ/producer, dropping rhymes like "we in dis club a little high, we in dis bitch on fiyah." He loves talking about sex—"Freaki Muthafucka" rears its head several times throughout the album—and isn't above bragging about his dick size (now he's saying "eight and a half," despite his old jokes about your girlfriend and his 12-inches). Near the end of the LP, we get what could be an explanation of where the name Moodymann comes from. It happens during "Girl," the preamble to "Sloppy Cosmic," an 11-minute funk ode to Detroit (another big topic on the album). In the second half of the track, a documentary narrator tells us about Henry Marzette, a gang leader during "the deadliest drug war in Detroit history." The track ends with this line: "On his death bed, perhaps to make amends in some way for the destruction he had wrought on Detroit, [Marzette] had his chief hitman, Moody, executed and put into the trunk of a car." So Moody was a professional killer who ended up being a kind of martyr for Detroit. Did Dixon Jr. name himself after him? The artwork for the album's vinyl version also feeds into Moodymann's personal mythology, portraying him as both a mysterious badass and a slovenly everyman. One sleeve image looks like a blaxploitation film poster, rendering Dixon Jr. as a flashy '70s-era gangster (Moody?). Another shows a spread of Popeye's chicken and various bottles of low-brow booze (Colt 45, Crown Royal, Milwaukee's Best) arranged in a greasy still-life labeled "Breakfast." But most intriguing of all is a black-and-white photograph that shows Dixon Jr. exactly as we see him on the cover—white wife-beater, bulging gut, bottle in one hand and Dixie cup in the other—but dead asleep in his studio, with a young child waking him up. Is the cover image his dream? Could Moodymann be Dixon Jr.'s fantasy version of himself? In any case, one thing is for sure: nobody else makes house records as weird and rich as this.
  • Tracklist
      01.Jimmy D…Nickle 02.Hold It Down 03.Never Quite The Same 04.Desire 05.You’re 2 Moody 06.Lyk U Use 2 (feat. Andres) 07.No 08.I Got Werk 09.Max Julien Jacket 10.IGuessuneverbeenlonely 11.U Don’t Even Lyk This Song 12.Come 2 Me 13.Ulooklykicecreaminthesummertyme (feat. Nikki O) 14.How do U Get 2 Detroit 15.Radio 16.Yet Unknown 17.Born 2 Die 18.The Most Fearful 19.I Still Don’t Know Yo Name 20.Watchin U 21.PonyDownCrew 22.Got Dem Freaks Wit Me 23.Freeki Muthafucka 24.Sunday Hotel 25.Girl 26.Sloppy Cosmic 27.Heaven