Let’s all take a moment to thank Kenny Dixon Jr. Not necessarily for his music, although that’s still as well and fine as it’s ever been. Rather, it’s really the man’s unaffected cool that really deserves our adoration. Within a culture that only seems to champion head-down anonymity, it’s almost refreshing to have someone so effortlessly capable of offsetting that sternness — disarming our collective geekdom by reminding us that roller jams can be a healthy alternative to obsessive trainspotting. And so it’s with some consternation for our captain-of-cool that we arrive at his Why Do U Feel EP, this most recent effort on his KDJ imprint.
Although buried on the tail end of the B-side — perhaps intentionally so as to mitigate some of the inevitable commotion — there’s no mistaking “Born 2 Die” as the EP’s main event, or at least the track most likely to incite delirium amongst pundits. The obvious reason for commotion is the sample source: Ms. Lana Del Rey. Perhaps you’ve heard of her? Very much Moody’s antithesis, the waifish songstress is less a natural wonder than an amalgamation of physical attributes that we’re meant to worship — with some even going as far to deem her a major-label construct, crafted merely to enchant the hipster-gazing masses. Aside from her coyish beauty and Dixon’s stark penchant for the fairer sex, the two share no common ground. But perhaps this merely another way of Moody reminding us that it’s not that serious; the rolling bass line tends to suggest as much, at least. Paired with “Got To Give It Up”-indebted party ambience and a number of hiccuping scratches, the song’s playfully propulsive nature doesn’t afford much opportunity to contemplate why someone would even bother turning out yet another Lana sampling effort.
All of the above really proves to be a case of misappropriated hand-wringing though. The title track is house music at its most disenchanting and personalized. A slice of classic Moodymann, it bears a less-pronounced female vocalist crooning in a manner that will resonate most with those owning heavy hearts. The distorted drums and detached bell rhythms only further evoke the cursed ethos of love failed. Back on the B-side, “I Got Werk” bumps the affair back into familiar territory, with a perky bass lick, handclaps, and Moody’s hypnotic moan inducing tempered elation. But it’s the arresting front and his ability to make the oft-repurposed Del Rey his own that place this EP firmly within the upper echelon of the man’s sprawlingly cool catalog.