Clash (magazine) - "[I]t's an essential purchase for anyone vaguely interested in music with a soulful pulse."
Two decades after fellow Detroiters Carl Craig, Claude Young, and Stacey Pullen were among the first contributors to !K7's DJ-Kicks, Kenny Dixon, Jr. adds to the series with a largely low-key, genre-spanning set. The selections suggest that the mix, or most of it, was knocked out long before its February 2016 release; not one of the tracks was first issued later than 2014. Perhaps Dixon was content to wait out a protracted licensing snag, though it's not as if he has a rep for spinning strictly new arrivals. Besides, the man does tend to take his time. Certain coveted KDJ productions have surfaced years after they were first whispered about, and he hasn't been all that quick to capitalize on re-pressings of his output. Take one of this set's highlights, Andrés' "El Ritmo de Mi Gente!," which quickly multiplied in cost after Dixon issued it in 2008. Though Dixon doesn't include any of his productions and, just as unfortunate, abstains from the shout-outs and other vocal interjections for which he is correctly celebrated, his presence is felt beyond the frequent but easy transitions. The Andrés cut samples the same Letta Mbulu-fronted piece from Quincy Jones' Roots score heard on Dixon's own "Meanwhile Back at Home." Dopehead's rugged "Guttah Guttah" comes from Detroit's underground hip-hop scene, where Dixon got his start, and was produced by Nick Speed, another one of his Mahogani Music artists. The Motor City is also represented with the wobbling Platinum Pied Pipers remix of Rich Medina and Sy Smith's "Can't Hold Back," and a neo-electro jam from Marcellus Pittman. Though Dixon has no evident connection to the Rodney Hunter remix of Fort Knox Five's "Uptown Tricks," it shows that his spot for Chic-styled disco remains as soft as when he released the Sister Sledge-sampling "One Night in the Disco." Additionally, Dixon judiciously edited over one-third of the tracks to facilitate flow, his craftiness most evident in the way Talc's breezy part-soft rock/part-Daft Punk hybrid melts into one of Beady Belle's graceful lounge laments. Dixon's taste dips back several decades, but he keeps it relatively contemporary all the way through. The oldest track is Nightmares on Wax's "Les Nuits," which bubbles out of Flying Lotus' "Tea Leaf Dancers" and, once more, draws from the Quincy Jones catalog. ~ Andy Kellman