Vikter Duplaix

Vikter Duplaix wants you bad -- really bad. So bad it hurts.

You can practically see him, lying on the floor, hand on his stomach, slithering around just like Maxwell in that "'Til the Cops Come Knockin'" video, dying for some raven-haired beauty to come tapping, tapping at his chamber door. Doesn't matter who: a French belle, a hot señorita, a tropical mama straight off the island. The titles on his latest album say it all: "Come See Me," "Desperately," "Looking for Love" and, of course, "Late Night Rendezvous."

He's got a tight game prepared, as these lines from "Desperately" attest: "I fiend for your sensuality / With you, I belong / Girl, with you, I belong." You hear that, ladies? He fiendin'! Somebody quench this guy's thirst before he withers up and dies!

Duplaix-as-singer may come as a surprise to those who know him as the professional beat-creator who served up music for himself and others, including Eric Benet, Erykah Badu and Musiq. It's not entirely a new thing. He's toyed with singing on tracks for Jazzanova and King Britt, as well as on his own DJ Kicks collection, but here he makes it official: The Philadelphia DJ/producer/songwriter/remixer has added crooner to his résumé. With a molasses-slow, blowsy voice that's reminiscent of P.M. Dawn's portly romantic Prince Be, Duplaix establishes himself as downtempo's latest lonely heart.

Lately it's been getting pretty crowded in that room, with cats like Peven Everett, Steve Spacek (of the UK electro-soul trio Spacek) and neo-soul newbie Dwele all keeping him company. So what makes Duplaix's Affairs stand out? Well, by melding deep, Euro-house synthesizer configurations with the random Afrobeat riff, Duplaix turns Affairs into a genre-tripping excursion. He wants to transcend national barriers -- he wants clubbers and sa-ditty night owls from all over to bump and grind to his tracks. And it could happen. Duplaix shares producing duties with several folks, but the bulk of the album has him paired up with his usual partner, omnipresent nü-soul figure James Poyser. Together, they manage to bring out the exotic/erotic zing in "Morena" and "Tropical Girl," go for the funk-rock angle on "Yesterday's Pain" and lay the dance-floor smackdown everywhere else.

The similarities to Prince Be don't end with vocal timbre. Duplaix goes down the sensitive pacifist route, too. The album opens with Duplaix preaching peace and love and unity and -- as those kids on South Park would say -- "all that gay stuff," in the tracks "What We Want" and "Lust for Life."

But you get the feeling it's all some kind of Gandhian honey trap. Soon enough, Duplaix slips back into sad swinger mode. He'll employ any and all means to get a girl up to his hotel suite. ("What's going on with you, lady? / Who's sending kisses on the daily? / Who's making love to you lately?" is his patter on "Come See Me.") The fact that these macking moments are neither boring nor pathetic shows that he knows how not to overdo it. You can't call him the Keith Sweat of underground dance just yet.

Maybe if Affairs were spinning on every DJ's turntable from Sydney to Manhattan, Duplaix could impress club girls by saying that the music the DJ is playing is his. Maybe then his repertoire wouldn't consist primarily of songs that find him begging for action. But right now, Duplaix knows something they apparently don't. He's a man of the world, and men like him shouldn't sleep alone.

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Craig D. Lindsey
Contact: Craig D. Lindsey