Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Reflections of the love you took from me...

So, I've just taken some time out to reflect on things. Basically things are good, but you know life is really what you make of it. I'm struggling and striving to do more every day. Maintaining focus and clarity are probably the two hardest things for me to do besides, quitting smoking and quitting procrastination. I'm glad to be alive to be going through it with all of you. I don't really have anything profound or even interesting to say today, except:

RIP Aaliyah!!! I wish I could have known you...XOXOX!!!!!!!!


A Fan

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Skateboarding Analogy

So I've been having a lot of discourse with my non-deejay friends, about my open letter to deejays blog. I don't want to be jaded, so I felt the need to better understand exactly what has happened. Was I really over-reacting?? Was I right on the money?

The feedback I got was overwhelming from my deejay friends. They all applauded it. But it was my non-deejay friends that still didn't get it. After a lot thought, I've come up with what I think is the most appropriate analogy. So ladies and gentlemen, I give you my skateboarding analogy...

The following was pulled from my post on the the turntablist network's message board...

Read original thread

My problem with the current paradigm is that somewhere along the way someone came along and altered the rules... Your "look" or "image" became more important than your skill set or your talent as a producer/composer. DVS systems have only stood to reinforce this trend, because no longer did your average dj have to start at the bottom, spending lots of money buying records and countless hours learning how to mix. He could simply jump ahead in the line over the djs with superior music knowledge and the collections to match. It made it easy for them to learn to mix records. It's also allowed promoters to start calling the shots instead of the djs themselves. Even worse is the promoter/dj who thinks he's a better dj than anyone he could possibly book. Somehow, someway the integrity has been stolen from us.

I believe it happened so fast we didn't even have time to react. Or we possibly just blamed it on a "new trend" as we all scrambled to get Serato, Final Scratch or whatever else was commercially available at the time. While most of us were spending our time arguing about traditionalism or purism on message boards such as this one, these people were re-writing the rules to include themselves.

This has been a sore subject with me lately and I've done plenty of arguing about it.

The best way to understand what has happened is by using a skateboard analogy.

A skateboarder starts out at the bottom of the sport. Then by practice, dedication, and lots of studying, he begins to progress. As he is progressing, the sport is also progressing along with him. Therefore, it becomes a lot harder with each passing day for the skateboarder to become recognized and a whole helluva lot harder for him to become famous. Eventually once he has matured or developed his own style, he begins to seek out the approval of his skateboarding peers. Either he starts going to contests or he makes his own "sponsor me" video to send out to companies. That becomes his first foray into marketing. Not until YEARS into his career does he ever become concerned with trying to market himself. And he surely wouldn't have anything to market if he hadn't spend a good chunk of his life dedicated to the sport. If he couldn't do any tricks or he didn't have any style do you think he would ever win a contest or get sponsored or gain any sort of acceptance from the "Old guard" skateboarders????

Why is skateboarding like this? SKATEBOARDING is run and policed by other SKATEBOARDERS or former SKATEBOARDERS. There is a system in place to prevent outsiders from changing the rules.

Essentially what has happened here, is akin to a gang of skateboarders that become pros and took over modern skateboarding simply because they bought skateboards. Instead of learning tricks, they just learned how to market themselves. Instead of going to contests or making sponsorship videos, they just started acting like they were already pro. We've essentially been gotten over on by a bunch of posers. A whole bunch of people who walk around holding their skateboards that are talented enough to ollie onto a curb have basically taken over and made doing fancy tricks and actually having talent obsolete.

Think about it. Prior to the DVS trend, it was the dj who had the most talent and or records that would get to dj the big parties. Why? They earned their position. What we've got to figure out is HOW DO WE TAKE THE POWER BACK?? How do we change the rules back to the way they used to be?? What do we have to do to restore the natural order in the dj game??

Thus is the crux of my argument... Now let's get to work on fixing things...

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Michel Gondry, your videos are awesome...

I feel the need to big up one of my favorite music video directors... He's the director of The Science Of Sleep and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind... He's brilliant!

Hope you enjoyed that as much as I did!!! Also check out the Daft Punk's Around the World video. I would've added it, but I couldn't embed it.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Bionik Brown Videos...

R.I.P. Nate "Bionik Brown" Woods : The day all of New Orleans Hip Hop cried...

August 11, 2008

I'll never forget where I was when I heard the news. I was sitting exactly where I'm sitting now, doing exactly what I am doing now, same desk, same job, same laptop, same cup of coffee to my right. I was checking my myspace and I saw Quickie Mart's status that Bionik had passed away.

"This has got to be a joke!" I said to myself...

I messaged Quickie and he got back to me later that day, and I found out that, NO... this was NOT in fact a joke. It was a tragedy. I first met Nate as a fan. When I lived in Lafayette, we would drive out for his shows. He became one of the emcees that I most admired, for his talents and his lifestyle. His talent was evident, but few knew that he was a man of God who never touched drugs nor alcohol nor cigarettes. I remember talking with him at length after a show at Twiropa and being impressed with his no nonsense take on the world. I could speak volumes about his music and the amount of times I'd listened to the Lucky Stiffs Mixtape, or the Darkness and the Light. New Orleans lost an ambassador, a son and a friend that day one year ago to something as senseless as drunk driving.

Nate and I really didn't begin to become friends until after he moved to Denver. The year was 2007, he was about to go on tour and was looking for a tour dj. I eagerly through my hat into the ring. I knew that working with Bionik on a daily basis would be a huge honor. This came at a time when I had given up alcohol (entire calender year 2007). I felt like it would be a good fit for me and possibly some of Nate's spiritual well-being would rub off on me also.

We talked about once a week or so for a while. I don't even know how seriously I was even being considered, but I never did get the occasion to work with Nate. When I heard the news I was crushed. I could only imagine how devastating it was to his family, and his close musical brethren Quickie Mart, Know One, Impulss, Soapbox, Truth Universal, etc...

I always wished I could've thanked him for sharing his gift with the world. It is my hope that today we can plant seeds in his name, remember his art, and make art in his name. Let's make AUGUST 11 of every year, BIONIK BROWN DAY!!!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

DMC US Finals Weekend (THE BATTLE)

So I climb up onto the stage, with my baggage in tow, at Santos Party House. I grab my clipboard with the judging sheet. I exhale, knowing I'd finally really gotten here, with time to spare.


A couple of people came up to greet me one was Dj Revel (aka Max Pounder), the other was Dj Steel. Steel introduced me to the rest of the Brick Bandits including SOLO, who I also knew from Geo's board. All this was completely surreal. After my miserable morning, then frantic traveling, I couldn't believe I was finally here. I'm really doing this. I'm a judge goddammit!!!

Growing up as a battle dj, my greatest ambition was to win a regional and make it to the US Finals. Well, I never thought it would come to fruition with me making it to New York as a judge. Basically the long and short of it all, is that this is one of the biggest honors of my life. There's not much more that could match this outside of my own championship.

As I step on stage, I immediately recognized Marcus Pinn and Donnie Dee. I battled in Austin the year that Donnie Dee won. I remember how shook up he was that he won. It was pretty touching. I felt like I'd already had met Marcus Pinn. I mean he was one of the reasons I started posting on Geo's Board. We were friends on myspace & facebook. I subscribe to his blog. I'd followed him through a kidney transplant, and the horror of the Manhattan based architecture firm of which he's employed. Marcus is one of the people that I most admire.

To my left was Dj Slyce, the 1997/2008 DMC US Champion. He finished 2nd in the world in 2008, and he's another person whom I only know from Geo's board that I greatly admire. WOW!! I saw "Baby Fatfingaz", but where was Fatfingaz?? Where were the rest of the judges? Dj Precision tapped me on my shoulder to shake my hand. This is getting more major by the minute. I looked straight ahead to the turntable setup in the center, there was Lord Finesse. Yes, people THAT Lord Finesse. Then I saw OC coming up on stage to holler at Finesse, "dude it's OC for crissakes!!!" Then there was Kool Dj Red Alert... The man, the voice, the legend had me buggin' out from just his voice. I would look down, to jot something down and I would just be like... "Maaan, Red Alert!!! WTH??!!"

I heard someone yelling at me from the wings, it sounded like some girls. It was! Marilyn from Mix Revolution who I talk to on twitter all the time and Sally Mclintock or Sally DMC. I jumped up from my seat to give them a hug. I couldn't believe all of this.

As Lord Finesse warmed up the crowd with the classic tunes, Kool Dj Red Alert warmed the crowd up on the mic. He kept making cracks about Poo Poo juice in his drink. I'm guessing that was some kind of inside joke about brown liquor. I was starting to get anxious about the battle.

The order was:

1. Lodus (L.A.) - Angry Ex's
2. Mista B (S.F.) - 4OneFunk
3. Concept (Fl) - Fader Ballistix
4. Fascinate (NH)
5. Q-Base (TX)
6. Ty Handswell - (Bmore)
7. Ohm One (NM)
8. Steel (NJ) - Brick Bandits
9. Shiftee (NY) - Lo Lives
10. Shmeeze (LA)
11. As One (DMV) - Rockvillians

The time was upon us. When Lodus led off on the right setup, we all noticed that the sound was pretty terrible. I hoped the sound guy, who looked like a cross between Rick Rubin and a bicycle messenger, would fix it... He didn't.

Next up Mista B on the left setup! Mista B came through and straight up rocked it from the beginning with some serious Cali Funk. I had been watching Mista B youtube videos all week, and I was particularly looking forward to seeing him rock it. He delivered in a major way. His sound was so clear an unique. I felt sorry for whatever dj had to follow that...

Concept was up next. I already knew Concept from the New Orleans heat. He chilled at my house before the battle and practiced his routine along with Steel, and Rugged. I knew what to expect, but no one else did. Concept was playing on the right setup (the setup with the percieved sound problems). Once he got up to perform, he immediately noticed the sound problems. He tried get the sound guy to tech it before he performed. They tried, but to avail... The only thing the sound guy managed to do was to eliminate the hum on one of the turntables. Once Concept started I could immediately see the disdain on his face. He had a look on his face that said, "FUCK!!! THIS SOUNDS TERRIBLE!!!!" At one point he stopped his routine altogether looked at us and was like, "The sound sucks on this setup!" He threw his hands up and looked at the sound guy like... "Dude are you going to fix this?? I mean it IS your job." He reluctantly finished, but he was NOT happy.

After some deliberation, we decided that the first two routines on the "bad setup" would have to be re-run. That also meant that the battle would go on with just one set of turntables which would seriously impede the flow of the battle, but Red Alert is a pro and so is Lord Finesse. The crowd wouldn't even notice.

So up next was Fascinate from New Hampshire. He came through with a heavy metal styled routine, complete with a Pantera juggle so y'all know I was feeling it. He kinda lost me with the second half of the routine, but the first half was fresh. I wish he would've continued with metal for the entire routine.

INTERMISSION... During this intermission Lord Finesse rocked the crowd while Rick Rubin's illegitimate son worked on the right setup. No dice... Continue with Plan B.

Lodus' Re-run... FRESH, FRESH, FRESH!!! For a cat who placed 3rd in his region, he certainly looked like a top finisher. Every one of the judges was impressed with him, and we were all glad that the sound issue was cleared up and we could go on with the battle.

Concept's Re-run... Like I said I already knew what was up. I caught some of the judges asking "He came in second???" like they couldn't believe he didn't win. I've got a feeling that Concept will enter Supremacy next year, and do really well. He's got the right look for it, and his cuts are definitely at that level.

Q-Base was up next. He was the second place finisher in San Antonio. He was solid, but not on the level yet of being able to compete for a top slot. It was evident to everyone. I hope he'll be back though. You can only get better from year to year.

Ty Handswell was up. I know Ty from the Geo's board, myspace, and Facebook. I knew pretty much what to expect from him also... Combo juggles. For everyone not in the know, a combo juggle is a beat juggle using two different records as opposed to using two copies of one record. Well, Ty came off... He had a good crowd friendly routine, and he got the most crowd response since Mista B, although Mista B still trumped everyone thus far.

Dj OHM One was next on deck. SOLID. That's as simple as I can put it. He was good in all aspects, his intro, cutting, juggling and transitions were all where they needed to be. For his first US Finals, I think he made a great showing. I look forward to seeing him next year. I think he is really one to watch out for in the future.

STEEL : I'll be brief about Steel, because he is the homie and I don't want it to seem like I'm biased. He did the same routine from New Orleans, and he executed. This time he wore shoes. His juggles were the freshest of the entire competition in my opinion.


This was the go to the bathroom, get a drink, smoke-break, judges break. In this time Shiftee was practicing his routine. Also I must add that Shiftee was wearing a DMC Champions jacket, a 1999 Thailand Champion's jacket. Now Shiftee was probably 13-14 in 1999, so we all just shook our collective heads and laughed. It turns out Shiftee collects champions jackets. He has three more at home. This guy is crazy. Well Red Alert actually calls him out for wearing the jacket and makes a joke to the crowd. I'm wondering why no one has called him out for wearing a bomber jacket in the middle of the summer in New York City... Oh well, the jacket serves it's purpose for sure.

So, next up is Shiftee... He came in to the building to WIN. He did not disappoint. From the very beginning of the routine, he had the crowd eating out of his hand. At one point, he stopped his routine to solicit applause from the crowd. Everyone went nuts. Shiftee had it all together. He used all of the mixer, his entire routine was completely stacked with bangers... There's not much more to say besides SHIFTEE KILLED IT!!!!

Next up... Shmeeze!! Shmeeze brought the Dubstep out to the finals. Super dopeness!!! He along with Mista B had the most distinct sounding routines. His cutting was on some next level isht. He's a strong competitor and I expect him place for sure.

FINALLY, AS ONE!!!! I had been looking forward to this for a good while since I found out in my previous interview that he had a custom set made up that he didn't get to showcase in the Fairfax regional. As One also rocked it. The highlight of his routine was an Inspector Gadget piece that was soooooo funky and completely indicitive of the DMV turntable style. I was impressed.

Now next were showcases by first I-Dee, then Precision. For the sake of brevity, I'll just say that either one of these cats would give any dj in the world problems in a battle. I-Dee has some of the best stage presence and presentation of any deejay I've ever seen. Precision (whom Red Alert kept calling Precise... SMDH) has the best juggle patterns in the US, possibly the world. He is an X-Ecutioner...


AND THAT'S A WRAP... Coming up next... My adventures in New York with Matt and Alex!!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

This is about where I'm at as far as Saints Season is concerned...

Ladies and gentlemen... I give you Supa Saint, in Supaloose!

DMC US Finals Weekend (the trip that almost never was PART TWO)

Delaney arrives to pick me up from the airport at around 9:30 A.M. and she's apologizing. I'm emotionally shutting down in a confused mix of denial, frustration, and anger. In the back of my mind, I haven't lost hope. Most of you who know me know I'm a pretty optimistic cat that never gives up. I called up Christie Z to tell her that, regrettably, I couldn't make it. She was understanding and wondered if perhaps I could still work something out to make it to the battle. I informed her of my airport nightmare and pretty much closed the door on making it to NYC. I called my mom to let her know that I could help her move this couch. She offered to pay the $800 ticket for US Airways to get me to NYC. I couldn't take her up on the offer. That amount of money for a one way ticket cannot be justified in my mind, no matter what the occasion. So we travel home, and I try to find something to occupy my day. All the anticipation and excitement seemed to have turned into anxiety and depression. I walk through my house trying to find some semblance of a day to salvage so that I might forget about my ill fated trip and my chance to partake in this ONCE IN A LIFETIME opportunity. No chance!

My phone starts ringing. I contemplate not picking it up. It's my mom.

"Hey, where are you at?" she asks.

"I'm at home. When do you wanna go get that couch??" I ask.

"Uhhh, I found you a cheap flight on Continental. It leaves at 11:55 it's a direct flight. You'll be flying into Newark. The plane arrives at 3:55. Happy Birthday!! We're on our way to come get you now!"

OMFG!!!! NO WAY!!!

So apparently my sister had her Continental Airlines rewards card in her wallet (my Mom and my sister fly A LOT), and they called Continental directly and reserved the flight. I'm gonna make it after all. I remembered Christie Z's words. Maybe you were supposed to miss the flight for some reason. Maybe something terrible would have happened on the flight or on your way into the city.

Yeah, maybe I would've gotten mugged and the universe was trying to keep me alive so I could catch this second flight. I don't mind the plane ticket being my birthday present. I just wanted to be in New York.

So my sister comes to get me and I'm off to Louis Armstrong International Airport for the second time that morning. I arrive at the airport and I get my e-ticket at the self-check in terminal. Ok!! Now it's 11:00 by the time I get through security.

"Yeah, on time plane leaves in about an hour! I'm gonna make it!" I thought to myself. I was elated, relieved and grateful that I would be going. This emotional rollercoaster was pulling in to the stop to let me off.

I get an overpriced hamburger from the Kiosk right next to the gate. I eat quickly, still frantic an nervous from the morning's events. I had never flown into Newark, I was not really sure how I could get in to New York. I guessed that a cab would be upwards around $100,000 and I'm not terribly familiar with the transit system at the Newark airport. Whatever, I'll cross that bridge when I come to it. The important thing is that I've got a boarding pass. I'm in time for my flight, and I'll be getting to NYC in time for the battle. I care about nothing else.

I call Christie Z, and update my twitter feed letting all my NYC people know that despite prior reports, I will be arriving God willing. The flight begins boarding, and of course my group is the last to board. I can't find a spot in the overhead bins for one of my carry-ons so I just hold it in my lap. I'm to the no bullshit point where there small stuff really just doesn't matter. My focus now is to land in Newark and find the quickest and cheapest avenue to get me to Santos Party House before the start of the battle.

Once I settled in and buckeled my seatbelt, I seemed to relax. The anxiety washed from my body and the calm of exhaustion took over. I fell asleep before the plane took off only to wake up for lunch service and fall back asleep.

When I arrive in Newark, I've to take the AirTram to the train station then take the train directly into Penn Station in Manhattan. I dash, trying to make up for lost time.

"Where's the AirTram??? Where's the AirTram??"

I find it after asking a Homeland Security Airport dood. I jump on the AirTram, turn my phone on and hit up my twitter. I get to the train platform and the next train will be 15 minutes. I go into the bathroom and change into my clothes I wanted to wear to the battle. I splash on a little cologne, wash up and I'm good to go!!!

Next stop, the train into Penn Station. New York City, here I come!!! Seems like I'm making pretty good time on the train. I text message my people letting them know I was coming to town, I update my twitter feed. I check my email (what did I ever do before smartphones?) even play some PacMan on my phone as I await arrival into one of the greatest cities on Earth. I'm peeping all the graffiti along the way and I'm people watching. There are these two Jersey bammas obviously en route to the Mets game. I deduced this from the fact that they were dressed head to toe in Mets attire, I could be wrong, but if the shoe fits...

I arrive at Penn station and begin to make my way to the surface. I get in the line at the cabstand, and the time is about 4:45 PST. The battle was supposed to start at 5:00, and I've absolutely got to be there for 5, when the judging starts. Being there for the battle really was enough for me. It would just be a huge blessing if I could actually take part in the judging. I know that events like this NEVER run on schedule. So I'm not worried. I jump into the cab and I text Christie Z to let her know my status. I'm not expecting her to delay the battle, I just wanted her to know I was en route. I was really looking forward to meeting, As-1, Marcus, Slyce, Fatfingaz, Sally Mclintock, Marilyn Sasha, Dj Revel, Precision, Solo, Doug Coen, Mista B, OHM, Lodus, Cj Sanchez, Baby Fatfingaz, Kool Dj Red Alert, Lord Finesse, and Dj Supreme.

I'm on my way. I'm anxious. I'm relieved. I'm thankful. I'm nervous.

I arrive at the Santos Party House. And thankfully the battle hasn't started. I check in with Christie Z, and with all of my bags in tow I settle into my role as a judge.

DMC US Finals Weekend (the trip that almost never was PART ONE)

So, I was asked on July 10th if I would like to judge the DMC US Finals at Santos Party House in New York City. I graciously accepted the honor. And since that day July 10, 2009 the day when all of our lives were changed by the DMC New Orleans Battle, I'd been looking forward to flying to NYC and being a part of an institution that has had such a profound influence on my life.

So Delaney takes care of making my reservations and accomodations for the weekend. I fly out of MSY on Northwest Airlines Saturday August 1st, 7:00 A.M. CST, I arrive the same day at 11 A.M. into LGA. Bus from the Airport to the 7 Train into Grand Central Station, check. White House Hostel, 340 Bowery, check. It's an late check in, 3 P.M. but the Hostel is a 17 minute walk from the venue according to Google maps. Should'nt sweat it, no big deal... Doors at Santos at 4 P.M. Seems pretty straight forward.

Yeaaaaahhhhh!!! Plans are made!

The days leading up to the battle end up being pretty hectic. I had all intentions of going to bed early on Friday, so I could be fresh for my flight. Weeellll THAT ISHT DIDN'T HAPPEN!!! Me and Delaney decided to go out drinking at THROWBACK so she could check out the crowd for this Friday's Mash-Up Edition of THROWBACK because she's guest djing and she's the kind of girl that likes to be prepared. In retrospect maybe the Jager shots were a bad idea, but we ended up getting home at around 3:30A.M. Now I remind you that my flight leaves at 7:00, so I need to be at the MSY for at least 6:15, best case scenario, 5:30 but I wasn't checking any bags, so it should be a problem. Right???

So Delaney decides to sleep on the couch so she could "get up", because apparently she sleeps really light on the couch. I sleep in the bed, and I plug my phone on the charger by the couch in the living room.

"Should I set an alarm in the room baby??"

"No, I've got an alarm. I'll wake up."

"You sure??"

"Yeah, I'll wake up!!!"


So I went into the bedroom, and I couldn't be bothered to correct the time on the blinking clock that had begun blinking the prior Wednesday after a brief power outage. It takes me about 12 seconds to go to sleep. And when I wake up it appears as if the sun has already risen. I panic, the clock is blinking something completely absurd like 3:38. So I run into the foyer and check the atomic clock. OH SHIT, it's 6:20!!!!!!! I wake Delaney up. It turns out that when her alarm went off, instead of pressing snooze she dismissed the alarm by reflex and went back to sleep. Now we're frantic!

I rush to throw everything in the car and put on my travelling clothes, so I can get there while the plane is boarding. We rush, Delaney is driving... fast!

We both hope against hope that I get there in time to board the plane. I get there at 6:45 so automatic check in is out. I check in at the counter and get my boarding pass and the Northwest Counter girl screams "Hurry!!!" Well I have to wait in the Security Line which isnt very long, so I'm thinking that I'm going to make it. I'm furiously checking my watch in line. Damn! Damn, damn! Hurry up line... So I get through security at like 6:57 and put my shoes on and dash for the gate. I get to the gate at 7:01 and the plane has already backed out of the terminal.

I'm crushed. I rush back to the counter and see if there are any other flights to NYC through the airline. There is a fully booked flight with a layover in Nashville which would put me in NYC at 6:40... NO F*CKING WAY!!! The next flight after that is on Sunday, what good will that to me?? Nothing... I'm going out there to judge, if I can't make it out to judge what's the purpose of me going at all?? I want to go just to be there, but at this point it doesn't even look like I can get on the 11:45 Nashville flight. I am beside myself.

So I begin to run frantically through the airport to the US Airways counter. It seemed that a couple traveling with a young son had missed their flight and possibly could get me on a US Airways flight. Well I go and check, no dice. I could buy a seat but that would be over $800, and I don't have that kind of money to poop out every time I miss a flight. So I rush back to the counter, trying to possibly get on standby, but by the time I get to the counter there are already 5 people in front of me on the waiting list for a booked flight. It's not looking good for the Skratch Man.

All they can do is shake their heads and look at me silly. There's apparently nothing. I explain to the guy at the counter that I have to be in New York for 5:00, and I was under the impression that they would try to help in any way to get me to my destination. So much for assumptions...

So I do a lot of frantic pacing, until I finally make the call to Delaney to come and pick me up. That was one of the hardest calls for me to make because in essence I was giving in. The dream had died.