The mixtape is a brilliant invention. I put it up there with Clorox wipes, call waiting, and drink umbrellas. And if you’re like me, you’ve had that experience where ten new great tracks have been released, and you dont want to buy ten full-length CDs. Nor do you want to buy ten 45s and have to try to put them all together. This is where the mixtape comes in. With sometimes over fifty tracks, the mixtape (and I use this term interchangeably with mix CD) provides you with all the latest and greatest music, interwoven together with some specials in one concise format. The folks at Apple caught onto this concept and made a fortune with the iPod and all of its iterations.
The variables to the mixtape, of course, are A) the choice of music and B) the mixtape architect. What isn’t obvious, however, is how hard it is to compile a decent one. The tracks overlaying the beats can be in different keys (highly annoying); the selector can talk too much or cut the song too short; the flow can be off; the song selection can be whack; a genre you don’t like can temporarily be introduced for awhile and believe me, Ive cursed my stereo in frustration for all of these offenses at one time or another.
Luckily, reggae and dancehall lend themselves to this medium because of the rhythm driven industry. You can play twenty songs in a row on the same rhythm seamlessly. Bring in a few dubplates, a remix or two, a few horns and sirens and youre good to go! But in all seriousness, to make an interesting mix takes skill and talent. This is where DJ Rondon comes in.
Based in New York City , DJ Rondon and his World Beat International Sound have been literally and figuratively in the mix since 2002. Easily releasing 60+ CDs a year, Rondon puts his spin on everything from reggae, dancehall, reggaeton, and soca to rap, hip-hop and R&B. His many series–including Dancehall Reggae, Vocal/Singing Reggae, Culture Mix, and Soca Mix–are hugely popular.
There are a few things that stand out about this Guyanese mixtape king. For one, he has a substantial collection of specials from international artists like Sizzla, Vybz Kartel, and Bounty Killer to sing his praises. On a recent CD Vocal/Singing Reggae Vol. 16 as I was listening along, all of a sudden track 9 comes in with Sizzla’s Be Strong Dub. I was impressed, to say the least. Rondon’s got a few of his exclusive tracks running on his website if you want to hear for yourself.
His relentless promotion hasn’t hurt either. Whether its throwing World Beat parties, or bundling his CDs with major label ones at the store, DJ Rondon has been pushing his music hard to get out there to the masses. A radio deejay in California was buying his CDs online as I walked in, without my mentioning this story once. DJ Rondons name is spreading like seed.
Whether its the latest T.O.K. track or some unknown Chrisinti one, Rondon introduces music to the people with his ear to the street. He digs up old tracks whose rhythms have been recycled with new tunes (think Ini Kamoze and Damian Marley). Hes got a repertoire that seems endless and with Stone Love and DJ Clue as his inspiration, this makes sense.
The Mixtape King title is as volatile as the Jamaican dancehall charts, however. One day youre on top, the next day youre replaced by the newer, shinier version. It will be interesting to see how Rondon will change with the times and grow his fanbase all the while not getting sucked into the you -scratch-my-back-and-I’ll-scratch-yours industry mentality. In my estimation he is living proof that hard work pays off.
DJ Rondons mix CDs are available for sale online at DJRondon.com, as well as in various record shops around the New York area, including Tigers Reggae Hut at 1092 Nostrand Avenue in Brooklyn.