How to waste a DJ

Prince Paul and Lovebug Starski fall on deaf ears at Axis
By MAC CARROLL  |  July 21, 2006

Prince Paul
"Born sinner, the opposite of a winner/Remember when I used to eat sardines for dinner/Peace to Ron G, Brucey B, Kid Capri/Funkmaster Flex, Lovebug Starski" Those words, uttered by the late, legendary Notorious B.I.G., immortalized the name Lovebug Starski for a whole new generation of hip-hop followers. To connisseurs of the old school, Lovebug is known for more than merely being the end of couplet. “This is real nostalgic for me,” he yelled on the mic Thursday night at Axis as he DJ’d alongside Prince Paul — a legend in his own right — during a freebie, RSVP-only gig sponsored by a major Japanese automaker. “Twenty-three years ago,” Lovebug continued, “I was at this exact same club, performing my number one single ‘You Gotta Believe’.” Already cued up, his 1983 classic got the royal treatment as it played through Axis’ booming system. It ought to have set the roof on fire, or at least raised it.

Unfortunately, the audience was not awash with nostalgia itself, as it mulled about, lethargically moving on what is normally referred to as a “dance floor”. The lack of actual dancing was not for want of effort on the part of the selector: Lovebug arranged a real decent set, mixing old with new and eventually stirring away from the R&B-centric slow jams he pushed early on. But rather than dust off the “running man” for Salt N Pepa, the crowd seemed to want today’s Jam’n retreads. Which is not a particularly favorable sign for two DJs who made their marks in the ’80s and mid-’90s, respectively. Liveliness did emerge, however, in the middle of Lovebug’s set — at precisely the stroke of midnight, coincidentally — as two scantily clad sirens appeared at opposite ends of the dance floor, raised aloft on platforms. “Oh yeah, I like what you’re doing up there,” Lovebug hollered as the two dancers, Axis employees both, demonstrated for the onlookers the proper anatomical reaction to Bubba Sparxxx’s “Ms. New Booty.”

If the audience wouldn’t move, perhaps it would learn a thing or two while standing in place. Taking a break from what looked like a very focussed Sidekick-3 chat session, Prince Paul finally took over the decks around a quarter to one, announcing that he was going spin a hip-hop history lesson — starting in the ’80s, grinding his way through the ’90s, right up to the modern day. From another DJ it might’ve sounded like hubris, but Prince Paul is hip-hop history embodied in living, breathing, corporeal form. After cutting his teeth as the DJ for Stetsasonic, he later became the mastermind behind De La Soul, and over the years his production has consistently pushed the envelope, from the horror-rap sideshow of Gravediggaz to the players’-club satire of Handsome Boys Modelling School. He’s also taken on such unlikely projects as a Chris Rock comedy album and a fictitious 1960s soul group called the Dix, while compiling a catalogue of overlooked but vastly adventurous solo work. Resumes, however, do not impress dance floors — or at least this one. The crowd was not havin’ it.

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