Kenny Dixon, Jr.'s outspoken views on underground dance music and an early aversion to publicity put him in a league occupied by few Detroit producers other than Underground Resistance supremo "Mad" Mike Banks. Despite the low-key manner in which Dixon has released most of his material -- ideally suited as work credited to Moodymann, as it swings from raw and mechanical to refined and elegant -- he gradually became as valued a producer as Banks or any other Motor City dance music figure post-Cybotron.
Dixon entered the scene during the early '90s as a hip-hop beat-maker, as heard on K-Stone's 6.0.1., an album that featured a handful of tracks credited to him as co-producer. He inaugurated his KDJ label in 1994 with Moody Trax EP. Subsequent singles, like "The Day We Lost the Soul" and "I Can't Kick This Feelin When It Hits," proved Dixon to be a singular fuser of short, soulful disco samples to hard minimalist Detroit techno. The brilliant Dem Young Sconies EP for Carl Craig's Planet E label solidified Dixon's place in his city's underground, though his anti-promotion stance remained firm. Much of the early KDJ output appeared on A Silent Introduction (1997), another Planet E release. As additional 12" releases made their way out, often in small pressings, Dixon issued albums that cunningly combined previously vinyl-only highlights, remixes of tracks by other artists, and new material. Among these not-quite-anthologies were Mahogany Brown (1998), Forevernevermore (2000), and Black Mahogani (2004), all of which were released on the U.K.-based Peacefrog label.
After the loose, live instrumentation-oriented Black Mahogani II (2004), the majority of Dixon's activity was documented on KDJ. Det.riot '67 (2008) was highlighted by "Freeki Mutha F cker," a track his most avid followers had been waiting to obtain for nearly a decade. Anotha Black Sunday (2009) and ABCD (2013) likewise were shorter releases that arrived with minimal notice. Moodymann (2014), another sprawling and lengthy affair, veered from nocturnal soul-jazz pieces to probing minimalist house and threw in a 12-minute variation on Funkadelic's "Cosmic Slop." A couple years later, he contributed a mix to !K7's DJ-Kicks series, as fellow Detroiters such as Craig, Claude Young, and Stacey Pullen had done in the past. ~ John Bush & Andy Kellman
- Detroit, MI