DMX Krew ‎– Turn It On

4 out of 5

Label: Utter

Produced by: DMX Krew

I was going to comment on the Ed DMX magic of this single, so dedicatedly reproducing the dancefloor fever of the 80s while holding on to his modern songcraft, only to discover that this is all a set of covers by 80s funk band Level 42. I knew the name but can’t claim to have listened to them (my brother went down the 80s listening rabbit hole when we were growing up; I went more for punk), though I did play through the originals after becoming aware of the tie-in. It’s clear that the group’s wiggly sensibilities were an influence to Ed; it’s still amazing to hear how he’s both updated and retro-ized the songs by reproducing them electronically, while absolutely staying true to the general vibe of the originals.

The title track maybe becomes a bit goofier and boppier without the slap-bass funk; it’s somewhat standard 80s club fare in this iteration, but absolutely enjoyable, and DMX-precise in his approach to keeping it light and springy. (The “Dub” version is an instrumental take that doesn’t offer enough merit versus the version with Ed’s vocals, though.) The B-side is golden: Love Games has its jazziness transformed into something a bit more sincere sounding, and “43” is a briefer take, turned in to video game bleepy glammer.

This is absolutely delightful retro fare from Ed even without the knowledge of its origins. Knowing that it’s a solid remake of, I’m supposing, influential music for Mr. DMX makes it that much more interesting, especially when listened to against the originals.