Clearly, Men Without Hats had the blueprint for Goodie Mobb’s “People Don’t Dance No Mo.” Granted, Cee-Lo has been known to sport a witch’s hat like he attended Necromancy school, but observe the clown/jesters, the big hair, the makeup. A coincidence? I think not. Pity the hat-less males — a one-hit wonder nonpareil, destined to be forever conflated with Men At Work. Until writing this post, I’d always thought they were from Australia, but according to the world’s most accurate encyclopedia, they’re Canadian — leaving Men at Work and Midnight Oil as the only two 80s Aussie outfits that non music nerds know about (all apologies to the great Go-Betweens).
This May, Stones Throw is releasing J Dilla’s Donut Shop, a partnership with Serato that includes six unreleased tracks, a pair of Donut Slipmats, and two sides with Serato Control Tone. The union is fitting considering every amateur DJ over the last four years has attempted to emulate Jay Dee via ham-handed computer cuts and a hard drive full of 128 KBPS soul samples. Dilla’s cover of “Safety Dance” proves what most ignored — the fact that calling him a “hip hop dude” was a stifling term. Like all the great producers, his tastes were eclectic and as much forged on Kraftwerk and Detroit techno, as they were on Pete Rock and Primo, and novelty 80s pop filtering through the airwaves. There were no arbitrary boundaries. “Keeping it real” just meant keeping it good. Always ahead of his time, “Safety Dance” is the sort of thing a contemporary blog rapper would do in a feeble (but likely successful) attempt to score a gimmick hit. Of course, no double zero could ever punch drums like that and as always, Dilla found the groove that Men Without Hats probably never knew they had. 80s pop re-invented with a crisp fitted.
MP3: J Dilla – “Safety Dance”