Dub Champions brought Mad Professor to New York City last night, resulting not only in one of the greatest sets I’ve ever seen inside of a club, but yielding one of the greatest days I’ve ever had personally, in my entire life. Where to begin…
I met Neil Fraser, aka Mad Professor, at a diner in Brooklyn around 2. We had a casual interview that touched on his new album, alongside deeper topics like spirituality in dub vs. dancehall. Push came to shove and the festival organizers asked me to bring Neil to his soundcheck at 8, so basically I had the pleasure of kicking it with him all day. He’s a super nice guy and amongst the most humble musicians I’ve ever met, especially for his caliber of expertise.
When we got to the club, Neil organized his set up. He uses this big machine that reads a hard drive with individually tracked tunes on it, from classic reggae joints to his own unreleased dub productions to Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye. He modulates, excludes and mixes each track (drums, horns, vocals, bass, guitar, background vocals, etc.) live, creating legitimate dub remixes in front of your face with nothing to hide. He let me play around on it, laughing and yelling when I did a proper mix. I was like a kid in a candy shop.
But when he takes controls, the result is jaw-dropping. It’s absolutely phenomenal. If you told me that Mad Professor was going to do a live remix of Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition” on a Funktion One soundsystem, I would have slapped you on the face and said, “Don’t fuck with me…”
But it happened.
For 2+ hours, Mad Professor “dubbed us crazy” with an amazing mix of tunes, styles and remixes. A Drum & bass remix of “Welcome to Jamrock,” a tribute to the late Faybiene Miranda, new tracks from his upcoming album Dubbing With Anansi, classics like Lee “Scratch” Perry’s “Chase The Devil,” Marley tunes…this guy has it all, and he used it. It was one of the most phenomenal shows I’ve seen in some time, completely changing the scope of what a “live” DJ set may entail.
Perhaps the most incredible moment was when he played his Lover’s Rock remix of Sade’s “Love Is Stronger Than Pride.” Beautiful vibes…
Dub Champions Festival continues tonight with a Lee “Scratch” Perry art show, tomorrow with Perry @ Brooklyn Bowl, and Friday with Victor Rice @ Paper Box. Brooklyn, stand up!