REVIEW: Detroit's DJ Psycho gets personal on latest mixtape
It’s been a rough two years for Detroit’s Dezi Magby, who is better known to fans as DJ Psycho of Detroit Techno Militia.
His mother died in January of 2016. In April of that same year, he and millions of fans lost Prince, Magby’s biggest musical influence. Between those deaths, and the deaths of friends to drug addiction, Magby turned inward.
The result is his latest mixtape, “PigMac VI: Bessie’s Boy,” dedicated to his mother and those who fed his veracious appetite for funk, soul and hip-hop when he was growing up in a blue-collar Flint family.
By his own admission, he hasn’t played techno in at least a year. Instead, he’s been digging in record crates, searching for those old tracks his family would play on repeat. That industrial work ethic is evident on “PigMac VI,” the most recent installment under his alter ego, Piggy McTiggers.
McTiggers is a madman. A manic soul whose sleepless mind keeps Magby’s imagination moving — especially when it comes time to focus and lay down a tape like “PigMac VI.” It sprawls with at least 109 different songs, 206 pieces of vinyl recordings, samples, sound effects and snippets of conversations with Magby’s mother. He recorded them months before she died.
While there are clear moments of danceable hip-hop, the dread and solemnity of old school soul on “PigMac VI” adds an air of ceremony. It celebrates the ghost of his mother with the kind of tracks you want played at a family member’s wake. It celebrates his progression as an artist and charts his passage into greater maturity.
This isn’t just a mixtape: these tracks represent a piece of Magby that few people have been allowed to see. Inviting your fans to share your grief can add a sense of humanity to any local celebrity, but for Magby, the bloodletting seems more therapeutic than demonstrative.
Longtime fans and new listeners can see who the Thrill Sergeant is underneath the baggy shirts and bravado. They’ll also get to hear the melodies of his soul.
This is a must listen for anyone who lives for underground hip-hop, Otis Redding, obscure indie rock and the fine art of witty turntablism.