Monuments and bridges! Pretty much all new musical achievements can be summarized by these two monoliths-cum-categories: either you create something grand or tie together disparate strains. Build either, and they will come; build neither, and your product ain’t worth the gate. And only the rare architect can build both. DJ Mehdi has already been building bridges. A decade into a career that’s made him a staple of the Paris club scene, the 29-year-old Mehdi Faveris Essadi’s union of hip-hop and house music has already defined him as the Washington Roebling of French Touch. He’s the guy who’s produced tracks for MC Solaar and 113 while remixing Cassius and Joakim, the one who’ll remind you that Kool G Rap and MC Lyte regularly rapped over house beats, and that Dr Dre is one of Daft Punk’s “Teachers.”
“[Hip-hop and house music] were always linked,” he says, “but audiences don’t see it as simply as producers do. It always takes time for the audience to cross over.” Or find a context to latch onto. For Mehdi, that context is Ed Banger Records, where alongside founder Pedro Winter, he is the resident head and (though he protests this claim) the top DJ of the label’s crew that plays and slays together. Between the steroid-techno of Sebastian and Justice, Uffie’s hip-pop, Winter’s love for all party sounds and a rabid fanbase growing worldwide, Mehdi is surrounded by a crowd that could help enact the sort of takeover he envisions.
“We tend to not be cynical about DJing,” he says of the increasingly legendary parties the label throws and where its talent tag teams behind the decks. “We don’t have boundaries where we only play hip-hop or only house or only techno. We share all those records and all love to hear these records very loud and to have fun—that’s the spirit of Ed Banger.” It speaks to the stature Mehdi holds inside the crew that his second album, Lucky Boy, is the first full-length Ed Banger release. Epitomizing 21st century Paris, it is a bodyrocking stunner where the disco samples have been scaled back and a post-Endtroducing aesthetic has taken hold. Mehdi calls it “dance music from a hip-hop point of view and for a hiphop fan.” Who knows? Maybe taking his audience to that bridge will be his monument.