DJ Cam: Miami Vice
Now would seem to be as good a time as any for the chic ‘pastel noir' aesthetic made famous by Michael Mann's Miami Vice to get a second look, and DJ Cam (real name Laurent Daumail) has decided to lead the charge by fashioning his own imaginary soundtrack to the show. This isn't the first time the Parisian producer's done something so imaginative: apparently, assuming a new identity for each project has been a regular event for Daumail since the appearance of his1994 debut Underground Vibes.
Conceived and presented as a set of cinematic sequences, his Miami Vice recreates the ambiance of the show and conjures memories of Sonny Crockett and Ricardo Tubbs tooling around the city's streets in gleaming sports cars surrounded by beautiful people and palm trees and hunting down drug kingpins. It's a surprisingly short album at thirty-four minutes, given the fact that fourteen tracks are featured. Many are in the one- to two-minute range, and consequently moods shift fast, much like the scenes and settings in a Miami Vice episode. Daumail's soundtrack references typical moments that would arise during an episode: late-night drug smuggling, romantic encounters, chase scenes, visits to shady locales, etc.
Just as the original television series liberally worked material by big-name artists into the show—“We Belong to the City” by Glenn Frey and “In the Air Tonight” by Phil Collins among them—so too does DJ Cam work a number of currently fashionable styles (e.g., footwork, trap) into his project, perhaps in an attempt to simulate the diversity an actual soundtrack collection featuring different artists would create. One surprise is the absence of any trace of the show's most iconic music, the opening theme by Jan Hammer, though perhaps DJ Cam decided that maybe it's just too familiar for his playlist. Instead, Daumail, who sequenced the tracks so that the album unfolds like a scripted episode, opens the set with “Crockett's Theme,” a low-riding slice of synth-heavy funk that oozes a sexy Florida vibe. A homage to Phil Collins' “In the Air Tonight” is present, however, though taken at a slightly slower speed than the original and given a trap-styled swoon.
Elsewhere, MC Eiht adds biting rhymes to two gangsta-styled tracks, the first of which, “Music to Drive By,” reflects a strong G-Funk vibe and plays as if DJ Cam persuaded Jay Z and Dr. Dre to contribute to the track. There are also brief but convincing stabs at footwork (“Move That Dope,” “Welcome to Little Haiti”) and classy instrumental headnod in the form of “Tubbs Theme.” The album's longest cut at five minutes, “Love Theme” adds a jazz-tinged romanticism to the project in its soothing blend of bright synth pads, vibes, and acoustic piano, while “On Ocean Drive” suggests a top-down, late-night cruise through the neon-lit streets. One comes away from Miami Vice convinced of DJ Cam's deep-rooted connection to the program, and the recording, though over quickly, nevertheless impresses as an affectionate tribute by a genuine fan.