For a while, the groundbreaking work credited to early Tommy Boy Records alumnus Steve "Steinski" Stein felt destined to elude mainstream acceptance forever. While classic Tommy Boy hip-hop gets mined for celebratory collections on a regular basis, Steinski's DJ compositions — slick marriages of turntable stunts and manually chopped samples — are oddly absent from the public sphere. What Does It All Mean? culls Steinski's patchworks into a two-CD set, marking a cornerstone in sample-based party joints/DJ mix history. Steinski (and Double Dee, at least in the early days) employed tape machines and turntables 25 years ago to craft scratch-heavy pieces that shifted bombastically from breakbeats to disco and glitzy funk in one balls-out marathon. Copious movie dialogue rests on ringing snares on "Lesson 3 (History of Hip Hop)," and "The Payoff Mix," a remarkably fresh-sounding, contest-winning remix effort, opens the set before a spellbinding 2006-era genre-hopper called "Nothing to Fear" seals it up. Minus the ludicrously offensive cut built around the JFK assassination broadcast, you really shouldn't accept any watered-down substitute for Steinski's distinctive works of art.
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