By Nick Burns
Any DJ worth his weight in vinyl knows how to keep the floor packed, so it's no surprise that when DJ-producer-hip-hop artist Tori Fixx (a.k.a. DJ Naughty Boyy) sat down to record his sixth album, Code Red, he'd been keeping an eye on the dance floors of Minneapolis to see what got the crowd jumping -- specifically, 'the Dirty South crunk beat' of Little John and Usher, along with infectious singles from heavyweights like Timbaland, Missy Elliot, and Justin Timberlake.
'I've been a DJ longer than I've been an artist, and I love watching people get into the music,' he says. 'Some DJs don't care when the floor goes dead, but I'm not that kind of DJ, and that affects my work as a hip-hop artist.'
The resulting 12-song collection cements Fixx's hard-earned reputation as the proudly gay answer to Timbaland. He plays into the hearts of hip-hop and R&B junkies with tracks that are equal parts pulsating beats and sexy synths, with a strong influence from fellow Minneapolis resident Prince (for whom Fixx DJ'ed in the mid-nineties). But diehard Fixx fans might notice that the in-your-face, politically charged rhymes of his past CDs have given way to fewer gender-specific lyrics and a more mainstream sound.
'Most of my earlier CDs -- especially Marry Me -- were overtly political,' Fixx says. 'I did straightforward, unapologetic gay hip-hop. But living in these dark times, I wanted to make a record that was more radio-friendly -- less blatantly sexual and political, but very much a dance record. So, you've got that crunk, some reggaeton, and some old disco.'
Nevertheless, Fixx hasn't gone soft and completely abandoned his trademark raps. 'Code Red (Hate Me),' a take-no-prisoners call to arms, serves up a verbal assault on the people who sent hate mail and death threats to him and fellow artist Deadlee after they appeared on CNN earlier this year as poster children for gay hip-hop. Meanwhile, the showdown in 'Big Black Limozene,' which samples Prince's 'Little Red Corvette,' was inspired by a man who hit on Fixx's friend by parking his 'long black limousine' on his thigh.
Bottom line: Code Red is the same Fixx with a new bag of tricks.