Anyone with a PC can create his own mash-up, but what separates the amateurs from the pros is an impeccable sense of timing and a desire to find the best possible blends. To a mixtape junkie, the differences are obvious.

The new breed of mash-up djs are more concerned with ironic juxtaposition (i.e. “Golddigger” with “A Fifth of Beethoven”) than with creativity. So when DjZ-Trip, who will be playing at the Blind Pig this Saturday, combines his infallible instincts for the right mix with his deft turntable skills, DJs coasting on the mash-up bandwagon might as well close their laptops and go back to spinning house parties.

To put it bluntly (and to paraphrase Jay-Z), Z-Trip was blending rap with ’80s hits back when blending rap with ’80s hits was a big deal.

Z-Trip first gained notoriety in 2001 with Uneasy Listening, a mixtape that pairs Phil Collins with Del tha Funkee Homosapien, and The Pharcyde with Pat Benatar, among others. After several underground releases, Z-Trip (following the path of other enterprising DJs) has made the transition from mixtape DJ to solo artist/producer. His deal with Hollywood Records resulted in two full-length records – Shifiting Gears and Ahead of the Curve.

Z-Trip’s self-produced compilation albums are by no means unsatisfying, but when such talented djs spend less time blending and more time behind the boards (take a look at Green Lantern’s last few mixtapes), it’s difficult not to question their change in approach. The shift in focus is comparable to Lauryn Hill’s attempts at playing acoustic guitar – entertaining, but not reflective of the artist’s true calling. Z-Trip’s collaborations with emcees from Jurassic 5 and Quannum Projects are solid, but they lack the same appeal as his more DJ-centric songs like his reworking of Prince’s “Kiss” with California rapper Murs.

Part of what makes Z-Trip’s mixes so attractive is his ear for integrating off-kilter samples. When he prefaces a breakbeat remix of “The Girl From Ipanema” with loopy Casey Casem soundbites, the result is similar in feeling to De La Soul’s sampling of French instructional records or Wu-Tang’s infamous kung-fu excerpts. While such subtleties may be lost in his live show, Z-Trip is known for turning his performances into raucous dance parties. Highlights from his touring career include spinning for thousands of people at Bonnaroo and backing up Beck for “Where It’s At” at Coachella.

With Quannum Records vets Gift of Gab (Blackalicious) and Lateef the Truth Speaker (Latryx) on board, and a new album to support – the soundtrack for All Pro, a football video game – expect Z-Trip to tear down the Blind Pig with a genre-defying blend of expertly mixed tunes.

Z-Trip Preview
The Blind Pig
August 1st

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