Tear the club up

By MIKE MCKAY  |  August 22, 2006

You started pretty young. How long have you been at this?
The whole DJ thing started when I was maybe eight or nine years old. It’s just the neighborhood that I grew up in in Baltimore. It wasn’t that there was a lot of DJs and all that, but I sort of just went from one thing to the next really quickly and was always out on the streets. I started out being a really young skateboarder, grew up skateboarding with Bucky Lasek and a guy named Brandon Novak who’s down as part of the whole Jackass thing. So just Baltimore itself, coming from the super-talented background of skaters and graffiti writers, and everyone was really young, but being young was never an excuse for not being good.

So everybody was sort of moving in the same direction.
It was a whole different group of people that were in this subculture but everyone was just really above average with it. Baltimore just never got any credit for anything, even after The Wire came out, making it sort of popular how grimy the city is. The city was a hell of a lot worse when I was a kid growing up.

When did you start to hear the music that people are now calling  B-more?
Just from being a DJ in Baltimore, it was interesting because hip-hop was not the first choice in a party situation. Whereas you go to most parties, even back in New York in those days, it was all about hip-hop, reggae, or whatever. Baltimore was like its own little world. It had a huge nightclub scene in the late ’80s – they were playing hard house, Chicago house, a little Louie Vega and Kenny Dope. Baltimore just favored house music a bit longer than everywhere else. I remember going to clubs and you’d be lucky if you heard like five hip-hop records all night, and it would be only the biggest records of the moment. Everything else was basically growing out of the house era.

So you came up more with dance music? Or was it more hip-hop? What were you listening to at the time?
My first thing was hip-hop, ’cause I started DJing, in a way, before B-more club got started. I was a young DJ at the time the first record came out. There was a time when the music that’s defined B-more club was not made in Baltimore.

What would you say was the record or artists that really started off the whole B-more sound? Was it [2 Live Crew’s] Luke Skyywalker? Was it earlier than that?
It was a mix of things. You would hear a Masters at Work record mixed with a 2 Live Crew record mixed with a Chicago record mixed with a really uptempo hip-hop, sort of mashed-up break, mixed with – a lot of it came from early ’88, ’89, ’90 UK rave, UK breakbeat. Which is funny because that UK music, a lot of it was the origin for this really ghetto urban hip-hop music that became Baltimore club. That’s what they were dancing to in these clubs when I was a kid.

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