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Richard X 

Richard X Presents His X-Factor Vol. 1 (Astralwerks)

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On the back cover of the booklet that accompanies Richard X's first full-length is an anti-piracy statement from EMI Music (Astralwerks' parent), a polite but strongly worded missive reminding listeners about the danger of the internet, CD burners, and the like. Bit strange, really, since that's pretty much how Richard X made his bones, back when he was working under the name Girls on Top. His strip-mined singles that paired TLC's "No Scrubs" with Human League's "Being Boiled" ("Being Scrubbed") and Missy Elliott's "She's a Bitch" with the Normal's "Warm Leatherette" ("Warm Bitch") were burned and bartered online more often than they were actually sold. Even he owns up to the apparent hypocrisy: Underneath the anti-piracy business, he asks, "Has Richard X sold out?"

So you can't hold too much against him. Especially since EMI gives Richard X access to its catalog to cut and paste as he sees fit on X-Factor Vol. 1. "Being Boiled" shows up again straightaway, this time paired with a revamping of Chaka Khan's "Ain't Nobody," courtesy of Liberty X (no relation); the result, "Being Nobody," is soul on ice, an electromagnetic pulse that makes the 1980s seem earthy in comparison. Human League is represented again on "Finest Dreams" -- a tag team of its "The Things That Dreams Are Made Of" and Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis's "The Finest" -- fronted by punk-soul diva Kelis, which makes you wonder why she isn't a bigger star. It's a streamlined version of 2 Many DJs' culture collages, a more thought-out version of the sloppy mash-ups that are more prevalent on the internet than pop-up ads. No, Richard X hasn't sold out. But maybe you should buy in.

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