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Freestyle fellowship

OTD is heading south for the week -- and no, we're not going where everyone else is going. We're off for some R&R and even a little M&M, because as we've said before, OTD is for the children. Don't sleep, though, because Cami and a cadre of Phoenix guest bloggers are gonna keep you up to your eyeballs in exclusives until we return. Before we step off, though, here's what we'll be listening to on de plane.

A couple years ago, we heard some dude talking about freestyle, and from the way he was describing it our brain got all scrambled, because he definitely wasn't talking about improvised rap battles, but he was talking about shit we knew. And so it was that we discovered we were experts in a genre we didn't know even existed: capital-F Freestyle, which, to paraphrase DJ Ayres in this month's Fader, is all about chanelling your inner 15-year-old Puerto Rican girl. Unless you actually dated 15 year old Puerto Rican girls in 1987, you probably don't have intractable yanking-on-heartstrings connections to the eight songs Ayres pegs as pillars of Freestyle -- Noel's "Silent Morning," Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam with Full Force's "I Wonder If ITake You Home," Stacey Q's "Two of Hearts," Taylor Dayne's "Tell It To My Heart" among them. But holy shit, we do. Not only do we own all these 12-inches, we still sweat them. We'd always wondered what to call the stuff we danced to at middle school jams, and usually threw up our hands and described it to our metal pals as bubblegum R&B, or black electropop, or something despicable like that.

There's been a resurgence of interest in this stuff over the past couple years -- Ayres mentions Ciara's "1, 2 Step" as a distant relative of Freestyle, though we also detect its synth-brass heartbeat in Chromeo; and our fave Freestyle act of all time, the Jets, of "Crush on You" fame, have become a mainstay of 2ManyDjs-type mixes. We know the Compound440r dudes represent for this shit as well. Witness C440r's Philly brothers-in-arms Crimp Yr Hair, whose freestyle party Jam It On the One is apparently causing a stir at a rock bar we used to get kicked out of called the Khyber. The Crimp dudes' "What Would Theo Do?" mix (that's Theo as in Huxtable, not Epstein, as the Cosby Show samples will make clear) also goes heavy on first-wave Freestyle, including Ready for the World's "Oh Sheila" and Shannon's "Let the Music Play" and the aforementioned "Crush On You" (best song ever, or so we've thought for whole weeks of our lives), which is what you'd expect from a couple of dudes who pledge undying allegiance to Jellybean Benitez and the Jimmy Jam/Terry Lewis empire.

DOWNLOAD: DJ Ayres, "Fader Freestyle Mix"
DOWNLOAD: Crimp Yr Hair, "What Would Theo Do?"

Oh, and weve mentioned these before, but dude: the Diplo podcast on Baltimore club music is absolutely killer (who's got the unmixed bmore remix of the Beatles "twist & shout"?!), and the new Caps + Jones mix destroys. When people give shit like this away for free, you start to wonder why anyone buys records, ever.

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