“I don’t make ’em, I just play ’em!” says DJ Backspin as he opens his Heatwave 96 mixtape with Tupac and the Outlaw Immortals Hit ’em up. Definitely a controversial choice for an East Coast DJ, but undoubtably the hottest track on the streets at the time when the East Vs West beef was tantamount. As a mixtape DJ, you’re only as good as your latest tracklist, so Backspin knew what he was doing when he dropped the incendiary diss track. I’ve looked for background information about DJ Backspin but I can’t seem to find much apart from his involvement in co-producing MC Lyte’s hit record Ain’t no other and the suite of this compilation Heatwave 97. This is the only tape I have of Backspin’s so I’m guessing his street game was pretty low key.
**See comment below! Apparently Backspin was a New Jersey DJ who made loads of tapes and toured the world!**
Side B weighs in heavily with the underground influence. It opens with Backspin addressing any bootleggers by dubbing a warning over Lauryn Hill’s Ready or not hook and playing Akinyele’s sexually explicit Put it in your mouth. Charming. Then he plays one of my favourite tracks on the tape, the down-tempo underground hit Where you at? by Finsta Bundy. Where you at? was released as a single with Feel the high on the Tape Kingz label which explains it’s inclusion on this mixtape. Even if the group didn’t break the mainstream, this 12 inch is definitely worth tracking down for your Hip Hop collection. Backspin keeps the listener blessed with sounds from the underground by dropping Natural Elements’ S.H.I.N.E. featuring L-Swift, A-Butta, Mr. Voodoo and female emcee Essence; and later the I.N.I. and Pete Rock remix of Fakin Jacks.
There are three Wu Tang joints on this mixtape and all three are lifted from movie soundtracks. Even if the films weren’t box office smashes, the tracks are rad. I remember starting to dig for B-movie soundtracks when I heard Winter Warz for the first time on the radio. Ghostface’s Ironman was still getting mixed in the studio, but labels understood that to keep fans sweet, treats had to be released gradually through other channels. The Wu’s America (is dying slowly) was the title track for a campaign aimed at raising awareness about AIDS and STDs. There are a lot of other dope tracks included on the soundtrack including Lost Boyz The Yearn. The boxing themed Who’s the champion? featuring Ghostface and RZA and If it’s alright with you featuring U-God and Cappadonna were both tracks from The Great White Hype film featuring Samuel L. Jackson. Good luck tracking both of those down.
Any feedback on Backspin and other mixtapes he’s recorded would be appreciated in the comments section. Peace.
Hit ’em up – Tupac / Outlaw Immortals
Da Wiggy – Heltah Skeltah / Da Monstas
It beez like that – Jamal / Khalif
Real Live (Remix) – K-Def / Larry-O / Ghostface Killah / cappadonna / Tariq / Killa Sin
My kinda nigga – Heather B / MOP
Who’s the champion? – Ghostface Killah / RZA
Rugged n Raw – PMD
Livin for the city – Rakim
Boom Biddy Bye Bye (Remix) – Cypress Hill / The Fugees
The Yearn – Pete Rock / Lost Boyz
Operation Lockdown – Heltah Skeltah
Put it in your mouth – Akinyele aka Akafella
Where you at? – Finsta Bundy
S.H.I.N.E. – Natural Elements
America – Wu tang Clan
Advance to Boardwalk – Cella Dwellas
Fakin Jacks (Remix) – INI / Pete Rock
Top ten list – Masta Ace
Stakes is high – De La Soul
Tryin’ to write rhymes – Rakim
Paula’s Jam – Paula Perry
If it’s alright with you – Cappadonna / U-God
Beyond real – Jigmastas
Let me clear my throat – DJ Cool