P. Diddy, Kanye West and Jermaine Dupri may be among the best-known producers-turned-rappers in the game, but the Beatnuts best exemplify an aesthetically successful leap from the boards to the booth.
The self-billed "supa supreme team from Queens," who have been cooking up grimy yet playful lyrics with their fat, greasy beats since the early '90s, gave the crowd a taste of their recipe for enduring underground success at Jaxx on Saturday night. With Junkyard JuJu on the mike and Psycho Les doing double duty as DJ and lyricist, the duo revisited some of their most twisted rhymes and tracks quilted together from jazz, Latin grooves, kids' music, television theme songs and other surprising audibles.
Even the oldest material of Da Nuts, who performed along with Simple Mathematics, Sammy Bravo and Jabba Jaw, Old School Vendetta and 2Mex, sounded fresh, in part because they prefer identifiable instrumental sounds to fabricated synth noise, whether it's the slick bass of "Props Over Here" or the slices of slinky tambourine on "Are You Ready?"
The Clydesdales-on-crack clackety-clack stomp of the hit "Turn It Out," and the distinctive flute of "Watch Out Now" (which was replicated for Jennifer Lopez's 2002 single "Jenny From the Block"), were among the familiar offerings. But JuJu and Les also performed material from their latest album, last year's "Milk Me," their debut on the resuscitated mid-'90s hip-hop label Penalty Recordings.
On the horn-laden club banger "Hot," with its cartoon violence and name-dropping metaphors, the intoxicated demons were as stone crazy as ever. And although their minds are always warped, their vinyl never is.
-- Sarah Godfrey