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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. The essential A Silent Introduction, released in 1997, collects the best tracks from his early 12″ single releases. Later, more jazz-influenced releases such as Black Mahogani (2004) incorporated more live instrumentation and guest vocalists than his previous works, which were more dancefloor-oriented. Following the sprawling 2014 full-length Moodymann, Dixon released a well-received volume of the DJ-Kicks mix series in 2016.
Dixon entered the scene during the early ’90s as a hip-hop beatmaker, 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 singularly fuse 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) were likewise 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. A 12” titled “Pitch Black City Reunion” arrived in 2018. Shortly after, copies of an untitled Moodymann LP appeared for sale online and sold for several hundred dollars each; the album was reportedly given to a few friends and its release was canceled. In May of 2019, a double-12” titled Sinner was available for purchase at a handful of locations in Detroit. The following month, a digital version was released, including both tracks from Pitch Black City Reunion as well as additional material. Full-length Taken Away was digitally released in May of 2020. ~ John Bush & Andy Kellman