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Push Button Objects featuring Del, Mr. Lif and DJ Craze - 360 Degree Remixes

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Artist: Push Button Objects featuring Del, Mr. Lif and DJ Craze

Album: 360 Degree Remixes

Label: Chocolate Industries

Review date: Mar. 31, 2002

Who is Push Button Objects? Edgar Farinas is Push Button Objects: pure hip hop-esque production, plus guest spots. So this record isn’t another one of those underground hip hop collabos; an exercise in pulling a name from each column and, poof!, there you go, a group, a la So-Called Artists, Mystik Journeymen etc. “360 Degrees” is a Push Button Objects track featuring Mr. Lif and Del the funky homosapien, two of the underground’s shining stars, and DJ Craze, a recent DMC scratch champ. The geography of this partnership is a bit confusing — Farinas and DJ Craze are Miami-based, Del is a long-time East Bay head, and Mr. Lif is transplanting himself to the left coast from Boston. One can only imagine how all these factors came together to record. But regardless, they managed, and this track is the result.

This record (EP? single?) is a bit confusing as well — it’s like a super-single, with more remixes than original material. The names behind the five remixes presented would get just about any knowledgeable hip hop aficionado drooling—DJ Spinna, Prefuse-73, Kut Masta Kurt, The Herbaliser, and of course, El-P. Package those with the original song, the instrumental, and the b-side from the 12” of “360 Degrees,” “Breaker’s Delight,” and you have 360 Degree Remixes, the album. It’s good. The song is good. The remixes are excellent. But the whole time I was listening I just kept wondering, why an entire CD with the same lyrics throughout? It is the Achilles heel of the disc: even the remixes, which do an amazing job of changing the song up, use the same vocal track from both Del and Lif, with the only variation vocally coming in the number and placement of the choruses. In the end, no matter how interesting a track is, hearing the same lyrics six times in eight tracks makes for some serious tooth-grinding on my part. There’s no way I can appreciate this disc as much more than a novelty, and given the way I listen to CDs, it strikes me that it would have made more sense to press it as a vinyl ep, since vinyl heads pay more attention to their music, and are more accustomed to switching albums more often. But that’s just a gripe. Onto the music:

The original song is a good meat-and-bones hip hop track. Lif and Del trade verses about being aware individuals in an American society that squashes originality over a head-banging bass line. One would like to hear more from DJ Craze, but the track works well as a cohesive whole. The other original track, “A Breaker’s Delight,” relies too heavily on synth-whisper/scratch noises for my taste, and as an instrumental track never broke into the lushness that hip hop instrumentals really need to sustain and justify themselves (see “Forest Crunk,” by Blockhead, for an example of what I mean). I found myself quickly annoyed by this song.

Then came the remixes, which range from remarkably similar (Kut Masta Kurt) to completely different (Prefuse-73) from the original track. As the disc progressed, I found myself amazed by the extent that the different producers and DJs were able to give each track its own flavor, even working with the same vocals. DJ Spinna takes his turn with a lavish, slow sound, accentuated by phased-out sampled vocals in the background that sound like they could come from a church choir. Prefuse-73 steals the show with his remix, a gem marked by the vocals being mixed a bit lower than the other tracks, and handclaps that go perfectly with the chorus, making all the hooks on the other versions afterwards sound empty. Kut Masta Kurt’s remix has the same hard-hitting hip hop sound as the original, but is saved from sounding too similar by a cleverly placed horn sample that gives the track a lot of energy; it ends up being one of the more enjoyable versions, second only to Prefuse-73’s take on “360 Degrees.” Surprisingly, neither The Herbaliser nor El-P comes through with tracks that do much to make you want to listen to them. The Herbaliser’s remix gets bogged down in a distorted guitar sample that, despite a promising start, ends up being monotonous. El-P provides a track that sounds a bit like he's parodying himself, starting with a futuristic computer noise that leads into off-kilter drums. Uncharacteristically, however, the track never comes together, and it sounds forced against the vocals. The album ends with the instrumental of the original, another vinyl-out-of-body moment.

I’ve already concluded this review. Give me a vinyl version of this disc and I’ll be happy; as it is, it doesn’t make much sense to me.

By Daniel Thomas-Glass

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