DJ Logic talks about his Zen moment
From Digable Planets to the Roots, jazzing up rap has become a totem of sophistication to hip-hop heads and jam fans alike. DJ Logic has carved out his niche by doing the opposite: rapping up jazz. Emerging on Medeski, Martin and Wood's Combustication, Logic's avant-turntablism instantly breathed some hip-hop swagger into the relatively straight-laced fusion scene. On subsequent solo albums Project Logic and The Anomaly, contributions from jazz and jam artists became a crucial part of Logic's craft — almost every track involved a collabo with one guest artist or another. Zen of Logic, Logic’s latest, is due out Tuesday, and sees some old friends return (Charlie Hunter, John Medeski), some new faces appear (Antibalas), and even features a few true solo works. ThePhoenix.com got a chance to talk with Logic about Zen while he was taking a break from finishing it up.
How were you introduced to DJing and how were you introduced to jazz? Did you discover both at the same time?
I was introduced to DJing first. Growing up in the Bronx, I listened to a lot of hip-hop like “Rapper's Delight.” I would also go to house parties or community centers throughout the city to see my favorite DJs, like Afrika Bambaattaa, spin. I was also into break dancing then, and I thought all the beats they were throwing down were cool. The interaction with the crowd and everybody dancing made me want to be a part of the whole DJ thing. That Christmas, I actually had my parents buy me some equipment, I didn't want anything else besides turntables — no games, no nothing. (Laughs.) I was 15 or 16, going home and putting a mixtape together was my after school activity. I would bring those tapes down the block and let my friends listen, and I'd also exchange mixes with other DJs to keep up my game. That was a good way for me to learn, it made me completely comfortable in what I was doing and made me do it right. I'd also try to find those certain records I heard at parties, like James Brown, Bob James or whatever else they were spinning. Those were the records that made hip hop what it was, and I was proud to discover that.
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