Nothing to Fear: A Rough Mix

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Despite the title, there's nothing rough about this mix, a point-perfect ride through the world of hip-hop studded with so many perfectly timed samples (and split-second scratching) that the man should have the legal hounds of Hollywood at his heels (not to mention the greater music industry), if only they could track down the sources. Those who know Steinski only through his hefty influence on the British beat-obssessives at Ninja Tune -- and not the succession of extra-legal, occasionally bootlegged twelves he recorded during the mid-'80s -- will find themselves in very familiar territory, occupied by the man who connected all the dots between the what's-next aesthetic of party hip-hop and the type of pop-cultural cues later made famous by retro-culture. Produced for the BBC via the Solid Steel program ("the broadest beats in London"), Nothing to Fear comes from a person who describes himself as "elderly," but despite the absence of 50 Cent or Ja Rule, Steinski sounds only as out of touch as Coldcut or David Holmes or any other celebrity soundtracker making hundreds of thousands from the silver screen. The occasional scratching (by the unheard-of F. Olding Munny and the Poolroom Loafer) adds an edge to the mix that nudges it closer to the mainstream, but Steinski is still the star here. No more than four or five of the 28 tracks are pure vocal cuts; all the better for him to drop in dozens of extended sample passages, each of which gets in where it fits in -- perfectly.