On his Grindhouse Basterds, local DJ Wick-It remixes Quentin Tarantino's catalog with guts and panache 

Quent-Essential Wick-It

Quent-Essential Wick-It

A minor crisis arose during my first listen to Wick-It's new remix album Grindhouse Basterds — I realized that my wife had never watched Jackie Brown. Somehow in our eight years together, I had neglected my obligations and duties as a faithful and loving husband and hadn't screened what is — in my opinion — Quentin Tarantino's best work. I'm a bad husband, but we corrected that as soon as the record was over. We're talking about a woman who has sat through every other movie Pam Grier has ever made, prefers samurai films to chick flicks and has a strict explosion quota for all of her viewing — and yet she had missed a Tarantino film. The lack of Jackie Brown in her life was a serious and pressing issue, and thankfully we were able to rectify it with a quickness.

That's the thing about Grindhouse Basterds, Wick-It's expertly executed remix album built around dialogue and samples from Tarantino's six feature films and augmented by exclusive verses from local MCs and verses from classic underground hip-hop: It's gonna make you want to watch the entire catalog. While on the surface, the idea of remixing Tarantino's universe is like shooting fish in a barrel, Basterds goes deeper than just a "Jungle Boogie" loop and talk of Royales with cheese. The record digs into the sonic fabric that makes the alternate universe of Red Apple Cigarettes and the Pussy Wagon so vibrant. The recontextualization of these elements is not a case of one artist wholeheartedly co-opting another artist's work, but rather a loving and knowledgeable tribute from one artist to another.

The reason it works is because Wick-It's style, which sees its most realized and coherent form on this album, isn't terribly different from Tarantino's own. Wick-It straddles the high and low ends of the brow spectrum — turntablism being the hip-hop equivalent of fine literature, mash-ups the pulp rags of our time. He toes the line between contemporary and classic, as likely to evoke golden-age rap as he is to drop into next-school electronic music. And most importantly, Wick-It has swagger. Wick-It has the calm and collected cool of Mr. Blonde sipping on a soda, wondering if you're going to bark all day, little doggy, or if you're gonna bite. You might think you know what you're getting into with this album, but Wick-It's got a cop in his trunk, and things are about to get more intense than you ever expected, if you catch my drift.

On Grindhouse Basterds, the plot twist that pushes this whole story forward from just another tale of a dude and his laptop — the light in Marsellus Wallace's proverbial briefcase — is the inclusion of local rappers Future, Iller from The Billy Goats and Tre Easley of Sam & Tre fame. These dudes come out swinging like they're the Bear Jew, cracking the skulls of suckers who sleep on the hometown sound. It speaks volumes about the crop of talent here in Music City that our boys can hold their own when dropped in with classic verses from the veritable Butch Coolidges of underground heroes — hard-hitters like RZA, Bun B, Biggie, Murs ... the sorta dudes who take a blowtorch and pair of pliers to every mic and get medieval on that ass.

On "Street Life" — the disco-flip of Randy Crawford's track from Jackie Brown — Future drops some of the slickest, smoothest raps Music City has heard all year, reclaiming his spot at the top of the scene after a rather extended hiatus. When the iconic sax riff from The Revels' "Comanche" snaps from surf rave-up to slinky edit-funk on "The Vega Brothers" and Iller busts out a chorus of "We're coming through now, whatchu gonna do? / Nashville's on the map / Bitch, I thought you knew," it's hard not to well up with pride, knowing that this record is going to end up on hard drives and iPods across the globe, courtesy of Wick-It's rather expansive Internet fan base. Which, of course, is largely courtesy of Big Boi, who commissioned The Brothers of Chico Dusty, Wick-It's national breakout record — which features mash-ups of Big Boi songs with tunes from The Black Keys' Brothers — from this town last year. So yeah, when Iller says "Nashville's on the map," it's not typical rap bluster. It's an actual fact.

Grindhouse Basterds has the air of an instant classic — it's a piece of work that calls for immediate replay, for constant review until you have every line and scene memorized. Whether it's "Reservoir Dawgz" with Bun B and Yelawolf, the Busta Rhymes-meets-The Coasters "Look at Mexico Now" or Notorious B.I.G. and KRS-One running headlong into Nancy Sinatra on "Bang Bang," Wick-It creates pop collisions that possess the same spark and fire as their source material, without ever dampening the legacy of the orginal artists or playing to the lowest common denominator. But most importantly, it gave me an excuse to watch Jackie Brown for the umpteen-billionth time.

Email music@nashvillescene.com.


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