Remixes, Vol. 2

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During the latter half of the 2000s, laptop DJ Girl Talk nabbed most of the hipsterati's peripheral curiosity for commercial hip-hop via clever cross-genre mash-ups. But the Brooklyn-based electro duo of guitarist Mike Stroud and synth-man/producer Evan Mast, aka Ratatat, scored the indie underground's most successful appropriation of mainstream rap with the self-released, and hard to come by, Remixes, Vol. 2. Predominant credit belongs to Mast, because Remixes plays out less like an arbitrary mixtape or legally questionable lifting of previously recorded material than a true producer's album, studded with willing guest stars (Notorious B.I.G., Jay-Z, Saigon, Kanye West, T.I., etc.) who slide egolessly into the duo's vision. That being said, it's Stroud who ultimately imbues the LP with its soul and playful spirit, his guitar sliding through Jay-Z and B.I.G.'s verses on "Allure" with psychedelic blues that evoke a warped 45. Abridged freestyles by Beans and Despot may represent the only fizzled moments in the album's otherwise cohesive chemistry, but as a breather from all the braggadocio, they hold your interest with greater rapture than, say, self-indulgently performed skits. Elsewhere, West's mega-hit "Diamonds" was too massive a target for reinterpretation, and is ultimately better served in its original rendition. But there may have been no more transcendent remix anywhere in 2007 than Ratatat's quintessentially Day-Glo tribute to the joyously boastful legacy of B.I.G. on "Party & Bullshit."

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