pon visiting DJ Rap’s new website, I stumbled upon her “Bitch of the Week” sub page. It’s a diary of sorts, a rather sassy one at that. I read the latest entry’s first few sentences, and it appears to be some feisty rant about a spat between her and a promoter (or some other industry figure of bitch-worthy significance). Only the story is told as if it were a fairy tale (i.e., “Once upon a time…”). The entire entry was in all caps. It then occurred to me that DJ Rap (aka Charissa Saverio, self-proclaimed UK DJ/producer/songwriter/model/actress) is, among other things, an all-caps type of chick. Need convincing? Well, for starters, she poses in revealing photo shoots, appears in Twix advertisements, owns her own record label, refers to herself as a general “badass,” and makes rambunctious dance music for the kids. The music in question is a surprisingly hard-hitting answer to the once-trendy realm of UK drum & bass.
Saverio has managed to capitalize on her image, appending an identity and personality to a habitually faceless genre. Perhaps her serene good looks accounted for a few of the 250,000 people picked up 1999’s Learning Curve, her crossover debut artist full length. Perhaps her lack of quality tunes sent that same album into so many used bins at record shops across Europe and the US.
Bulletproof is being marketed as Saverio’s new artist album, her first since Learning Curve, even though it’s clearly a DJ set, albeit featuring mostly her own productions. Of the 10 tracks making up the set, six are new ones by Saverio, two are remixes she’s done for other artists, and the other two are picks from her most recent DJ gigs. These two picks, Concord Dawn’s “Morning Light” and Konflict’s “Messiah,” tend to outshine Saverio’s own work for the set, as their production is more forward thinking. (Even so, they’re not particularly good tracks; they’re just slightly more tolerable than the rest.)
It’s evident that Saverio has taken cues from 2-step giants like MJ Cole and The Artful Dodger, as her production is more paced and has that seemingly faint off-beat jerk at times. However, despite the subtle progressions from her previous work, the ultra-polished, reverb-heavy techno squelches and sweeping phases of Bulletproof will likely grate the nerves of most anyone weary of late-‘90s dance music stylings. Saverio still produces tracks as if the first Matrix trailer had just premiered in theaters, as if the Rave Act had never been passed. It’s an incredibly tired fashion whose only real safe haven is with D&B; enthusiasts of the denser, less adventurous variety.
The whole thing kicks of with the set’s title track, which applies neo-classical chord progressions to rapid-fire synth filters, eventually unveiling a loud, glossy drum break. “Beautiful Universe,” Saverio’s token “ethereal” track, begins with a new age ambient intro and follows up with wobbly, distorted bass lines. No track differs much from the next. They all convey about the same level of energy and harness similar frameworks. This sort of thing is common for DJ sets, but not so much for artist full lengths. (And let’s not forget, Bulletproof is being marketed as just that.) All in all, Bulletproof is for D&B; kids, not the rest of us. Anyone looking for a daring, boundary-pushing exercise in electronic dance music would be advised to steer clear.
Reviewed by: Will Simmons
Reviewed on: 2005-06-07