Hip-hop mix-master Jason Nevins doesn't take credit for writing the song, he's just happy to have put his own spin on it.
The single in question, "Run-D.M.C. vs. Jason Nevins," a sped-up, electronified cover of rap founding-fathers Run-D.M.C.'s standard "It's Like That" (RealAudio excerpt), has landed Nevins in heavy rotation on music-video channels worldwide.
"It's like he took the past and added the present but he came up with something sounding so futuristic," said D.M.C., a.k.a. Darryl McDaniels, a member of the legendary rap act. "I thought it was one of the most original ideas that producers nowadays can learn a thing or two from."
For Nevins, coming from one of his rap heroes, that's a compliment of the highest order.
"I've always loved Run-D.M.C. Those guys are the fucking originators," said the 27-year-old Nevins, previously best-known for his remixes of tracks by R&B superstar Janet Jackson and bawdy rap artist Lil' Kim.
The rock cliché "we're huge in Europe" applies particularly well in the case of the New York-based Nevins. Enough dance-happy Europeans in Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Belgium and Austria cut a rug to the tune in clubs and bought up copies of his single to send it to #1 on their respective charts.
Stateside audiences are more likely to have seen the song's music video, highlighted by teenage girls and boys lining up at a warehouse for a breakdancing duel choreographed by Los Angeles breakdancer Little Caesar. Check the flow of nostalgia rushing back as the teens snap off their acrobatic moves: Headspins, backflips and robotic stylings executed with alarming precision by kids clad in outfits that came from the '80s.
Meanwhile, Nevins stands by in hazy yellow shades, boombox in hand, overseeing the breaking battle.
But in the end, it's the music that stands out, according to D.M.C.
"Nowadays when you hear most of the things rappers rap over, they sample and they loop and it seems like they all use the same record," the rapper said. "This guy took it another step further."
Flushed with the success of the single, Nevins spoke triumphantly, if not boastfully, about covering a classic by his rap heroes.
"They heard it, they like it. It's making them a lot of money, more money than it's making me," he said. "They should like it. I took a mint record and made it even better." [Thurs., Feb. 19, 1998, 9 a.m. PST]