In learning to DJ I have gained an even greater respect for the art of the drop. In mixing it’s the easiest thing to lift the pace of the music slightly up and up throughout the night. The energy in the room goes up and the asses shake it just a wee bit harder.
To do the opposite is far more difficult. We’ve all been on a dancefloor when a careless DJ tosses a slow groove on after a stomper and the crowd disperses. You know this is a real fail when the slow jam is actually a mighty sexy, danceable song, but it’s location after the fast bass makes is seem like the kind of tune that would make you want to change the station. But if you can pull off one of those drops you have a much more dynamic, interesting set than if all the songs volley around the same beats per minute range.
If you want an exemplary DJ in this respect, go see Diplo. As much as I love The Twelves and Miami Horror, Diplo will remain a favorite because he is so good at tempo drops. Befitting his name, you never know when Diplo is going to switch it up and drop a low sexy beat that makes the jumpers switch to vertical humpage (time to dip looooooooow). He dares to play slow lusty numbers after bangers and pulls it off every time.
I have this idea of the well-excuted drop on my mind because there is a beautiful drop Loo & Placido mashup Californication [2Pac feat. Roger Troutman vs. Plump DJ's vs. Zero Cash] that has me keeping the song on repeat. DJs talk about teasers, grabbing a snippet of the forthcoming song to get the crowd excited about what’s coming up. There’s barely any 2 Pac at the front end of this song. When the teaser comes in at around the two minute mark, “In the city…” it doesn’t sound like it is going to lead you into the familiar 2 Pac tune. There’s exactly thirty seconds of echoing build up followed by the most glorious drop I’ve heard in a long time.
Hip-hop is usually much slower than dance music, surprising to some, even slower than rock and roll. So when that voice sings “California loooooove” the whole room slows down. What slays me about this mashup is, at this point, the song isn’t even mashed; it starts right where it should if you bought it on the juke box. Loo & Placido are essentially having a cigarette break, just throwing that 2 Pac down into the middle of the song, naked as the day it was born, without all the fancy trimmings a DJ provides. They are saying with the wave of a hand, “this shit is so good we are going to serve it to you straight, no chaser. AND YOU ARE GOING TO LOVE IT. AND YOU ARE GOING TO DANCE.”
And it works. There is a gorgeous ecstasy in leaving that steady electro beat for the opening bars of “California Love” that will make you wonder if you have ever heard 2 Pac before, if you were every really listening. It will make you start to wonder what magical powers these two French men harbor in the simple act of selecting and combining songs. They will make you think perhaps every song is going to sound better when delivered by Loo & Placido. That’s one hell of a drop.