"Copywritten, so ó donít copy me," Missy Elliott drawled in "Get Ur Freak On." But when you taunt your audience that way and make an a cappella version of your rap available, itís evidently too tempting to resist. Next to Eminemís "Without Me" (which has already turned up on the Internet furtively coupled with instrumental bits of Led Zeppelinís "The Wanton Song," the Smithsí "This Charming Man," and Dexyís Midnight Runnersí "Come On Eileen"), "Freak On" has been the subject of more unauthorized remixes than any other song in recent memory.
A temptation to any other remixer is basically a compulsion to Kid606 (a/k/a Miguel Depedro), the hyperprolific laptop fiend whoís appeared on practically every electronic compilation of the last two years. He attacks Missyís track twice on freakbitchlickfly, an energetic and totally unauthorized collection of Elliott remixes. (It claims to be on a New Zealand label called Violent Turd, but if you check the Web site for 606ís own California label, www.tigerbeat6.com, you wonít have a problem locating a copy.) The disc opens with "I Got Mine," which sounds as if it could be a legit "Freak On" remix for about half a minute, until the octuple-time beats and spattery noises start coming so fast and loud that Elliottís vocal becomes almost an afterthought. And "Take the Piss On" swaps out Timbalandís quasi-bhangra beat from the original version for a spastic two-step breakbeat and dub effects; then the "on" in the title sparks something in 606ís subconscious and he slips into the intro from a-haís new-wave standard "Take on Me." (Fellow freakbitchlickfly contributor Kevin Blechdom also has a chipper new EP of dirty-minded electropop on Tigerbeat6. Snarkily called I ? Presets, it culminates in a hilariously earnest/not-at-all-earnest cover of Tina Turnerís "Private Dancer.")
Having gone that far, 606 evidently decided to dispense with copyright concerns altogether. "All songs not written by Kid606," goes the credit line on his new album, The Action Packed Mentallist Brings You the Fucking Jams (also allegedly on Violent Turd), and he almost never bothers to use a short, clearable sample when he can appropriate the whole damn song. "Never Underestimate the Value of a Holler (Vipee-Pee Mix)" is a re-reconstruction of "Take the Piss On," with Black Sabbath and Jay-Z thrown into the mix for the hell of it. He hovers over his favorite line for a good long while: "Donít copy me/Copy me/Copy me/Copy me/Copy copy copy copy copy copy copy copy ccccoooopppppeeeeeee . . . "
The rest of the album works the same way. "MP3 Killed the CD Star" starts with an insistent gabber beat under a sped-up, glitched-out chunk of D-12ís "Purple Pills" (well, okay, the entire song), eventually segueing into some booty bass and finally the Bugglesí "Video Killed the Radio Star," with a brief detour into Craig Davidís "Re-Rewind" when Buggle Trevor Horn sings the word "rewind." "Kiddy Needs a New Pair of Laptops" attempts to improve on the original music behind the vocals for Soul II Soulís "Back to Life" and the Banglesí "Walk like an Egyptian" and doesnít quite succeed, but itís a valiant attempt. "Smack My Glitch Up" is Kylie Minogueís "Canít Get You Out of My Head" run through the Kidís imposing collection of digital filters so that it blurs into fog and then crumbles into grains.
But the simplest remix on The Action Packed Mentallist is also its highlight, and the key to what 606 is doing. "Rebel Girl" is Bikini Killís riot grrrl anthem, more or less in its entirety, buoyed by one of the most frantic breakbeats heís ever devised and some Jamaican DJís interjections. By the end, heís looping Kathleen Hannaís words against themselves: "I really like you/I really love you/I really wanna be your best friend."
The thing is, Kid606 does feel that way. What heís doing isnít culture jamming ó heís not trying to pull off a prank for its own sake ó and heís not really in the business of clever juxtapositions either. These are all recordings he seems to love, and heís just changing them to be more to his taste. The originals still exist unharmed. What heís turned them into is the most thrilling party record of the year so far, and an album that could never have been made legally. That might be part of the fun, or it might be part of the problem.