Paul Oakenfold

The term "superstar DJ" has become just as much of a clichéd oxymoron as "sports entertainment." Instead of waiting for electronic-music barometers like Urb magazine or Gilles Peterson to anoint which spinsters can be considered upper-echelon talent, many of them take it upon themselves to create their own immortal, self-important personae. Just as many dance fans fearfully predict, their heads begin to get as large as their record collections. On many an occasion, local DJs and club promoters have related horror stories to me about visiting drama-queen DJs and all the bullshit they lug around along with their record crates.

Some DJs have worked long enough to merit such an ego. One of these is Paul Oakenfold, a man who just turned 40 and still works at getting kids half his age to dance in place to his music. But in the eyes and ears of many, Oakenfold is to electronic music what Fred Durst is to rap-rock or even Denis Leary is to comedy: a too-cool-for-school diva whose rock-star preening has alienated more folks than it has attracted.

Fans of "Oakey" will vehemently disagree. They say that he deserves to enjoy his success. After all, he's been everywhere out there as a DJ, remixer and producer, and he's been at it much longer than most deckmasters -- all the way from New York's post-Studio 54 scene through London's acid-house era and right up to the present.

And although he's gotten to the point in his life where he views his musical configurations more as statements of otherworldly, unexplainable inspiration than just shit you can dance to (his latest mix CD is the two-disc Perfecto Presents…Paul Oakenfold -- Great Wall, which was apparently sparked by an "epic journey" to the Great Wall of China), you can't say the man hasn't paid his dues. He also knows how to bring eclecticism to a underground dance collection. Last year, he released Bunkka, which answered the age-old question, Can a London DJ create an album in which Ice Cube, Nelly Furtado, Grant Lee Buffalo and Hunter S. Thompson can coexist in perfect harmony? Okay, so that question has never been asked. But you can thank a cat like Oakenfold for even bringing up the thought.

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Craig D. Lindsey
Contact: Craig D. Lindsey