As touted in this week's Backbeat, music editors from across the country asked luminaries from our respective towns to tell us what music they loved this year. Their picks appear below and on the subsequent pages.
Unlike, possibly, 90 percent of his neighbors, turntable wunderkind Isaac DeLima did not, in fact, choose his South Beach digs for their proximity to the neighborhood's nonstop party. Rather DeLima, a.k.a. DJ I-Dee, initially landed in Miami almost three years ago from the D.C. suburbs with a plan to attend culinary school.
But then his DJ battle career blew up in a big way. In 2005, I-Dee was crowned the national DMC turntable competition champion, and at barely age 18, one of the youngest ever. And he'd quickly rack up a string of further national and international prizes before retiring from the battle circuit just two years later.
Growing up in Fairfax, Virginia, DeLima still remembers when his bedroom DJ brother showed him his first battle video: the 1994 DMC World Championships (Roc Raida won). He was hooked, but only ten years old. No matter; he learned his way around the decks in secret, standing on a box to reach the turntables.
DeLima attended his first regional DMC competition as a 14-year-old spectator in 2001. Three years later, he'd win, qualifying for the national DMC championship. In 2005, he won that, in San Francisco (and was summarily kicked out of the 21-and-over club as soon as he grabbed his trophy). He would then go on to place third at the international competition in London. In 2006, he took the two biggest remaining U.S. titles on the battle circuit, at the Gong Supremacy and Scribble Jam championships. By 19, he was done, ready to concentrate on his own original music. And he had moved to Miami Beach — for peace and quiet.
"I'm traveling a lot of times during the week, so I love to keep this place in Miami for a feeling of home," DeLima says. "This is my space to relax." It seems that his enviable precociousness has led him to find one of the city's few quiet, pedestrian-friendly pockets amid the chaos.
I-Dee's got big plans for his own musical productions, genre- and media-crossing creations. For example, industrial rock remixed on the decks in a truly humorous, faux-horror video? Sure, why not, and it works. So he's holed up in the lab, doggedly working to finish his first album of all original material, due out next year.
Still, like any worthy party selector, record collector and postmodern music-maker, DeLima devours new music like Tic Tacs. But as a true child of turntablism's cut-and-paste ethos, he's more into individual tracks than complete albums.
"Honestly, the last album I listened to in its entirety was Chromeo's Fancy Footwork [released this past June on Vice Records]," he says. "In the new digital age, and as a DJ, I usually download the singles that I need, and if there's more than one song that grabs my attention, I'll download the whole album. That happens very rarely for me personally, though."
Here, then, are his favorite 2007 bangers.
Talib Kweli, "Hot Thing" remix, feat. Ne-Yo and Jean Grae
"Jean Grae is about to be revealed to a lot of mainstream hip-hop fans and really bring back the female MC. Nowadays, the majority of them are in trouble with one thing or another. She's been around for quite some time, however; be sure to look out for her major debut on Kweli's label, Blacksmith."
Justice, "D.A.N.C.E." Benny Blanco remix feat. Mos Def and Spank Rock
"Definitely one of the best songs of 2007 for me. The remix, though, features the mighty Mos Def, B-More/Philly booty-mover Spank Rock, and production from 19-year-old Benny Blanco. Cop the Bangers & Cash EP from Benny and Spank while you're at it."
RJD2, "You Never Had It So Good"
"RJD2 goes a different route this time around with his latest album, The Third Hand, by singing on a majority of his tracks rather than strictly producing. The reason I liked this song is because I believe he got a sample off Super Mario RPG for SNES; it had me thinking back to '95/'96."
DJ I-Dee, "Eclectic Dreams" feat. Rites of Ash
"The first single off my upcoming debut album on Adiar Cor Records. It features Rites of Ash, an industrial rock band from Washington, D.C. Be sure to check the music video for it on YouTube, as well as my album coming in 2008."
Tay Zonday, "Chocolate Rain"
"Best song of the year. Hypnotizing. 'Nuff said."
Madlib, "Movie Finale"
"This is one of those songs that I'll play over and over during a long drive. Very soothing and has a slight Bollywood feel to it. Check Madlib's Beat Konducta Vol. 3-4: In India on Stones Throw."
-- Arielle Castillo