Beat Box

Re-Members Only, The Remix Album... Diamonds are Forever, Phonography, Kamnesia, The Life, Endangered Species, Until the End of Time, Crown Royal, The Skinny

Label:Six Degrees, Nettwerk, Blue Note, Hard Tyme / JCOR, Epic, and Loud

Beat Box

Hip-hop summer's gonna be hot, so we'll roll the slow beats first. King Britt's sophomore Sylk 130 project, Re-Members Only, on primo Bay Area indie Six Degrees, follows up '97's sylkier When the Funk Hits the Fan with not-so-Princely nu soul, featuring the unfunky sounds of Grover Washington Jr. and Alison Moyet. Mark Bell and Twyla bring the duets, while De La Soul and Capitol A get down in the end, but diamonds and pearl are scarce at this club… Plenty of both -- diamonds and pearls -- on Shirley Bassey's The Remix Albums… Diamonds are Forever (Nettwerk). Thirteen Bassey remixes by the Propellerheads, Wild Oscar, Mantronix, Nightmares on Wax, etc., including two takes on "Diamonds are Forever," three of "Light My Fire," and OO7 digits "Goldfinger" and "Moonraker." Like Barry White, Shirley's bassey profundo hits you just south of the waist and north of the knees… DJ Smash's Phonography (Blue Note) is never more hard-core than Guru's lead-off remix of his Medeski, Martin & Wood star turn "Whatever Happened to Gus," but DJ/producers like Smash, Spinna, and Todd Terry scratch through a decade worth of Blue Note jazz/R&B, including remix tag-teams (Ronny Jordan & Mos Def; Bob Belden & Cassandra Wilson; Us3 & Us3), and turn out serious brain 'n' booty grooves. Problem is, remixing remixes eventually leaves you with more ice than juice… Despite making his bones on the Boyz N the Hood soundtrack, West Coast Kam is coming outta left field for a stadium of playas, but a few rounds with Kamnesia (Hard Tyme/JCOR) and they won't forget. More bedroom than street, Kam takes his time, but the strokes are worth it: "KAMnesia," "Have a Fit," "Where I Come From," a couple of good Mystic hook-ups, and the primed "Active." Kamnesia is re-occurring… Ladies know Ginuwine's bedroom, so the good news for them is that The Life (Epic) has stamina. "Why Not Me," "2 Way," and "That's How I Get Down," with Ludacris, have all the right soul moves. If there's no female company purring to it, however, the brothers are gonna snooze… Both Big Pun and 2Pac know all 'bout the big snooze, but only one of their post-siesta LPs is gonna make you wish you were taking a dirt nap. Pun's extinct as of last year -- 300-plus pounds and 29 years -- but Endangered Species (Loud) is live, 24 of the Bronx-born Puerto Rican's best-know bombs dropping like godfather Fat Joe's big beat, five of 'em unvaulted like "How We Roll," by his kids. La familia misses BP and this Latino family LP plays like a deuce. Until the End of Time (Interscope), on the other hand, the first of two, 2-CD comps from 2Pac's alter-egomaniac "Makaveli," is a deuce, but with more bad overdubs than Michael Jackson's had facelifts, you'll never even hear disc two 'cause this one's DOA. Mama Shakur, meet Al Hendrix… Run-DMC will never flatline, not as long as there are white boys like Fred Durst, Kid Rock, Everlast, and (someone's buggin') Stephen Jenkins of Third Eye Blind to pretend they're Aerosmith hangin' with the Kings. Clive Davis took the loot and scooted last year, so there's no supernatural tag-teams on Arista's Crown Royal, but solo rans like the title track and hook-ups with brethren like Jermaine Dupri ("It's Over") and Mobb Deep's Nas and Prodigy ("Queens Day") almost resuscitate Crown RoyalSlimm The Skinny Calhoun (Aquemini/Elektra) has the royal seal of approval stamped in gold on the plastic wrap of his phat debut: "Outkast present." Another southside banger from the ATL crew, with slick country grammar and lean beats, Calhoun is the hottest "Red Clay" playa here, doing for cheesesteaks ("It Ain't Easy") what R-DMC did for Adidas. "It's OK," with OK's Dre, "The Cut Song," a soulful nod to the ladies Jackson, "How Much Can I," snoozed on by Sleepy Brown -- Calhoun's hotter than the fourth of July. Hip-hop summer just got skinny.

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