Last summer the Beat Junkies were honored with an invitation to DJ Jazzy Jeff’s 2nd annual Playlist Retreat – a private invitational hosted by the Magnificent himself at his home in Deleware. Man. As you can imagine it was a beyond amazing week of collaboration and inspiration, all in the company of wonderful, talented people. One of the many highlights at Jeff’s retreat were the exclusive first looks at the newest DJ hardware from the music industry’s leading companies, which is where Roland officially introduced the new DJ 808 controller.
I’ve been DJ’ing since 1988 and have always played on turntables throughout my enitre career. That being said, I have for years been reluctant to step outside of my comfort zone where digital technology is concerned. I’ve never played a set on CDJs nor been the least bit interested in making an attempt to perform on anything other than turntables, if for no better reason than sticking to what I know. However, thanks to the good folks at Roland, the Beat Junkies were gifted the new DJ 808 controller and were asked to choreograph a performance showcase on their behalf. As an artist, the last position you ever want to be in is unprepared for a live performance, so it was imperative that I learn the DJ 808 and had a thorough understanding of at least the very basic functions, for starters… Essentially this meant I would need to reprogram myself as a DJ in a few ways, probably the most significant of which was to acquire a feel for 2 jog wheels that do not move (as opposed to a motorized turntable). As with any new instrument, the DJ 808 can be intimidating at first glance – 4 channels, multiple effects, faders and buttons everywhere, a drum machine sequencer that syncs with your tracks.. It’s certainly a lot to make sense of all at once. However, after dedicating a few days of practice I was able to get comfortable with the general functions and overall feel of the unit, and within less than a week I was able to exercise all of my turntable techniques on the DJ 808 and felt confident I could compose a “Beat Junkie Style” set that would include both creative mixing and scratching.
I have since had a few opportunities to showcase the Roland DJ 808 at various events, and other than “how do you like it?”, the question I get asked the most is about digital latency. To be completely transparent, there is a very slight adjustment that we as DJs need to make where hand control is concerned. Apart from that, the DJ 808 responds very well and is extremely accurate in translating DJ techniques. In fact, to all DJs worldwide, I can say with 100% certainty that the new DJ-808 is without a doubt worth consideration for everyone. Roland has created something special and is truly an organization that respects and appreciates the art of DJ’ing. Special thanks once again to DJ Descry and the entire team at Roland for continually creating new ways for us to play and make music. Let’s all keep an open mind where technology is concerned and keep pushing the art.
Join our very own Beat Junkie Ambassador Dynamix and special guests as he host’s, a portable skratch session from 3pm- 7pm at Wax City 7/10. There will be FREE give aways courtesy of The Beat Junkies and appearances by the Artifacts & Ed OG.
Kehinde Wiley – Los Angeles native and New York based visual artist, Kehinde Wiley has firmly situated himself within art history’s portrait painting tradition. As a contemporary descendent of a long line of portraitists, including Reynolds, Gainsborough, Titian, Ingres, among others, Wiley, engages the signs and visual rhetoric of the heroic, powerful, majestic and the sublime in his representation of urban, black and brown men found throughout the world.
By applying the visual vocabulary and conventions of glorification, history, wealth and prestige to the subject matter drawn from the urban fabric, the subjects and stylistic references for his paintings are juxtaposed inversions of each other, forcing ambiguity and provocative perplexity to pervade his imagery.
Wiley’s larger than life figures disturb and interrupt tropes of portrait painting, often blurring the boundaries between traditional and contemporary modes of representation and the critical portrayal of masculinity and physicality as it pertains to the view of black and brown young men.
Initially, Wiley’s portraits were based on photographs taken of young men found on the streets of Harlem. As his practice grew, his eye led him toward an international view, including models found in urban landscapes throughout the world – such as Mumbai, Senegal, Dakar and Rio de Janeiro, among others – accumulating to a vast body of work called, “The World Stage.”
The models, dressed in their everyday clothing most of which are based on the notion of far-reaching Western ideals of style, are asked to assume poses found in paintings or sculptures representative of the history of their surroundings. This juxtaposition of the “old” inherited by the “new” – who often have no visual inheritance of which to speak – immediately provides a discourse that is at once visceral and cerebral in scope.
Without shying away from the complicated socio-political histories relevant to the world, Wiley’s figurative paintings and sculptures “quote historical sources and position young black men within the field of power.” His heroic paintings evoke a modern style instilling a unique and contemporary manner, awakening complex issues that many would prefer remain mute.
Kelela – is an American singer and songwriter. Her 2013 debut mixtape, Cut 4 Me, earned praise from music critics and contemporaries such as Solange Knowles and Björk, and was listed in various publication’s year-end lists. Seeking to make the mixtape sound like a remix album, Kelela added her own vocals over instrumental tracks by DJs from Fade to Mind and Night Slugs.
A first-generation Ethiopian American, Kelela was born in Washington, D.C., grew up in Gaithersburg, Maryland and graduated from Magruder High School in 2001. She has been based in Los Angeles since 2010. After transferring from Montgomery College to American University, Kelela began singing jazz standards at cafés.In 2008, she joined an indie band called Dizzy Spells and tried to sing progressive metal after meeting Tosin Abasi, whom she later dated.
Having moved to Los Angeles, Kelela connected with Teengirl Fantasy and contributed to the group’s 2013 album Tracer on the song “EFX”, which led her to meet Prince William from the label Fade to Mind.He introduced her to the sound of the record label and its sister imprint from London, Night Slugs, which Spin has described as “one of the most distinctive sounds in U.K. dance music, a mutable hybrid of grime, house, electro, R&B, techno, hip hop, and dubstep.”In May 2013, she appeared on Kingdom’s “Bank Head”, and five months later released her mixtape Cut 4 Me for free. Harriet Gisbone of The Guardian has described the album as “an experiment for the production team, the first time the production crew had used vocals on their club tracks.” In March 2014, Kelela was featured in Bok Bok’s song “Melba’s Call” for his new EP.
On March 3, 2015, Kelela announced the forthcoming release of her Hallucinogen EP with a video for the project lead track “The Message”, produced by Arca (who’s also produced for FKA Twigs).
Elaquent – Canadian-based producer Elaquent is certainly no rookie in the thriving beat scene. Known for his smooth, soulful style; his off-kilter, neck-break beats; and his obsession with Batman and Sega Genesis, Elaquent is finally beginning to reach his full potential. Elaquent, or “eQ” as he is also known by, has been making his mark on the independent beat scene in a big way over the last few years, with a large discography of well received instrumental albums. Since the ninth grade, eQ has been mastering his production techniques, creating a sound uncommon to the crop of other local producers. Citing J Dilla and DJ Premier as some of his earliest influences, eQ has become much of a fan favorite among beat afficionados in Toronto. After a string of successful releases, including “The Scenic Route” , “Green Apples and Oranges”, and most recently, “Good Karma”, eQ has taken his show on the road, armed with his trusty SP-404sx loaded full of beats. Having toured all around the United States and many parts of Europe, eQ shows no signs of slowing down. Signed to HW&W Recordings (based out of Los Angeles), the prolific producer is already planning a number of albums, live shows and collaborations. Needless to say, Elaquent is on the come-up. Video Interview with the man himself:
For more on Elaquent, you can check out his Social Media pages, bandcamp/soundcloud or website: elaquent.com
Mick Jenkins – On January 13, Mick released his first mixtape, The Mickstape. In August 2012, he Released his second mixtape entitled The Pursuit of HappyNess: The Story of Mickalascage.Listed producers include After The Smoke, Swisha House, Chris Calor, Quincy Banks, Chuck Inglish, Vanilla, and Dijon.
In the Fall of 2012, Mick returned to Chicago and began attending YCA (Young Chicago Authors) a youth center where his first a cappella verse caught the attention of local artist and leader of Chicago’s Pivot Gang collective, Saba. Shortly after, the two collaborated on Heaux for Saba’s 2012 mixtape GETCOMFORTable. Jenkins is a member of a hip-hop group called Free Nation. Other members include Prop, J-Stock, Burman, and Maine The Saint. Free Nation promotes creative thought without accepting narrow views imposed by the powers that be. This group believes that when you find a way to combat the status quo, you are free.
In April 2013, Mick released a mixtape entitled Trees and Truths. It quickly became a local favorite, buoyed by acid jazz-influenced production, biblical allegory and lacerating lyricism. The project was by far his most lyrical body of work and caught the attention of Chicago’s incipient gatekeepers. A few months after its release, a collaboration with Chance The Rapper and Vic Mensa came in the form of a single entitled Crossroads, which received attention and praise.
2014 – July 2015: The Water[s] & Tours
In July 2014, Mick received significant attention after the release of his single/visual Martyrs, which juxtaposed harsh societal truths with a catchy hook. The thought-provoking single held various underlying messages and subtle notions. Martyrs has led people such as Timbaland, among others, to reach out and praise Jenkins for his musical talent and intricate lyricism. Mick continues to find creative ways to convey his message and on August 12 released his project The Water[s] which has garnered national attention. Centered on the idea of comparing water to life’s truths, The Water[s] serves as Jenkins’ breakout project and has received much critical acclaim. Shortly after releasing the project, Jenkins announced he would be touring during the fall on the 2014 Smoker’s Club World Wide Roller’s Tour along with Method Man, Redman, B-Real, Trademark da Skydiver, and Berner. He had his first official tour in February 2015 with Kirk Knight,Noname Gypsy and Saba Pivot. He was on tour with Joey Bada$$ and Denzel Curry for Phase 1 of their World Domination Tour.
On July 20, 2015, Mick Jenkins announced an EP titled Waves, which was released on August 21, 2015.Mick Jenkins began streaming his new project in full via NPR’s First Listen on August 13, 2015. Wave[s] is the follow up to Jenkins’ critically acclaimed 2014 mixtape, The Water[s]. For Wave[s], Mick continues to keep the collaborators confined to those within his inner circle. The project features the likes of Sean Deaux, Saba, and TheMind. Mick will also be North American tour with French producer STWO from the end of August through the beginning of October.
Teeko – While Teeko’s notoriety over the last decade may come from his superhuman Turntablist repertoire — DMC, ITF and Guitar Center champion, co- creator of the Vestax Controller One, recording for Mark Ronson, D’Angelo and others, his creative prowess naturally extends to his work as a keyboardist, writer and producer. He has also received accolades by the world-renowned Berklee School of Music in Boston, receiving the Milestones Innovative Producer’s Award. Teeko has also been recognized by the prestigious Monterey Jazz Festival, being the first DJ/Turntablist invited to perform. In recent years, he has teamed up with acclaimed fellow bay area producer B.Bravo to form the modern bass/funk outfit, Starship Connection. Hitting festivals across the country bringing new elements of live performance in the electronic music scene. His recent culmination of skills on synths, turntables and production have taken his live sets to new hights including several exciting collaborations with Dj Craze, Salva, Dj A-trak, Ruckazoid and more. All in all, the man is at one with his art, no matter what his device his sound continues to take exciting new shapes while effortlessly blowing minds and breaking necks.
“Teeko is a constant innovator, one of the rare DJs who pushes boundaries of what turntables can do musically.”
– DJ A-trak
(Fools Gold / Duck Sauce)
Are We There Yet? shortcuts for success in the internet era
These days the internet has definitely thrown a monkey wrench into the way artists rise, fall and survive. You can have a great video or song and dance go viral at any time and in less then 24hrs garner millions of views. You could get remixed by a well known and established artist athen get picked up to their label/signed overnight. You could even have music placed in a 30second commercial or picked up for the theme song of a online tv show and get offers from licensing companies and residuals for the life of the show.
It’s really crazy to see the wave of advancement, adapation and transformation the entire music industry has gone through over just the past decade, it’s pretty incredible to say the least. The rise & fall of tidal, applemusic, soundcloud, bandcamp, tunecore, and the hundreds of other sites out there are really reshaping the music world.
In business and people, this idea goes hand in hand, you need to have the basics in order to proceed to the intermediate and advanced areas of whatever you’re aiming to do. Walking before you run, not putting the cart infront of the horse or biting off more then you can chew. In music, I’d say the basics are having your Name and the meaning behind it, secondly your logo and branding, third would be your bio/story fourth would be your online presence and last would be an overall branded package.
Having these things will give you a solid foundation, and from it will innately bring structure, which would be followed by your own leadership ( unless of course, you’re at the point where you need management, representation, an agent, etc ) | which by no means, am I suggesting those last things (mgmt/agent etc being a requirement)
So that was:
1. NAME / reason for it
2. LOGO / colors/theme (there’s a reason corporate standards come in with big companies using the same colors on everything they do)
3. BIO / background – we’ve all got stories, highs and lows, and this is a brief look at you.
4. Social Media / this is just getting your accounts in order and making sure they have matching names, so you are found the same way across any network, much like a website that is ‘responsive’ and visible in the same manner, across any device (phone, desktop, laptop, tablet, etc)
5. #EXCLUSIVE HASHTAG / this will help you archive as you go, and it will let people also take a peek into how far you’ve come, where you’re going, and how relevant or recent certain posts or articles are. This is your online signature if you will.
6. WEBSITE / websites are very important because they are like a brick & mortar store, except visible from anywhere in the world, 24hrs a day, 7 days a week, 365 a days a year. This is the sign outside of your store, this is the wallpaper inside your store, this is the music in your store, this is the merch in your store. This is literally a store hahah. It should have all the things listed prior to this point, some content of your best video/photo representation, and then a contact page.
7. Electronic Press Kit – This is everything on your website, wrapped into one comprehensive package, while an EPK is great for sending out to blogs, PR people, magazines, talent bookers and more. The point would be to get it down to “onesheet’ therefore it can also be printed on a nice cardstock and physically mailed to more valuable potential clients and partners. It should be easily downloadable on the website into a PDF file type. This is an easy way to get looked at as being a serious artist / professional because you’ve got all of your other ducks in a row. It’s much more appealing to a label, manager, agent, or booker to scoop someone who has it all together with the stuff mentioned above, as opposed to having to do a ‘development’ situation which requires someone else to produce all of these things for you.
8. BUSINESS CARDS – I’m pretty good with organizing business cards based on what field of work they are in, and transfering the information to my phone and spreadsheets to make sure I can keep in contact. While some people think cards are dated, I probably get asked for 5 per week in my outings here in Los Angeles. This is just another opportunity for you to extend yourself to others. Less expensive and faster then printing the epk to hand out to everyone like a resume, and cheap enough that you can leave them with check presenters when you pay bills, drop them into tip jars, let a few go at once, etc etc.
That’s all the “busy work” that are prerequsites in my opinion for you to become successful in the music world. Now sure not everyone needed or had these things to make it, but it definitely separates who’s ready to get to the next level and who isn’t, alongside who has their shit together, to put it bluntly. The DIY route is also not the best suggestion for this, get all of this stuff professionally done in collaboration with someone you trust who does high quality work, otherwise you’ll end up redoing everything in 6 months and wasting time/money. Buy once, buy right.
Finally, so like it, love it or hate it – those are the breaks and above are some of the best ways I can suggest for you to streamline your own success. The music is equally important, to the image you portray. This isn’t difficult stuff to do, and not too expensive, so why not?
As the saying goes “Remember that it takes 13 hours to build a Toyota and 6 months to build a Rolls-Royce.” The idea being that if you want to achieve big goals and accomplish your dreams, you’ve gotta significantly invest in yourself.
That said, I’m now offering web & graphic design services and branding packages to all of you… ( kidding, kind of 🙂
Beatjunkie / bēt jƏNGkē /: A driven and creative individual, inspired by the art of music.
THE WORLD FAMOUS BEAT JUNKIES The Beat Junkies, internationally recognized as an unparalleled musical phenomenon, innovated an original DJ art form that continues to entertain and inspire all realms of the music sphere. This crew of DJ virtuosos is comprised of eight accomplished musicians: J.Rocc, Melo D, Rhettmatic, D-Styles, DJ Curse, Babu, Shortkut, and Mr. Choc. Stemming from various mobile DJ units throughout Los Angeles County and the Bay Area, these artists came together in the early ’90s, and introduced a masterful musical style that transformed the DJ art form throughout the world. Talented veterans in creating original compositions, the Beat Junkies introduced their unique DJ forte to audiences on every continent. Their signature music formula, which has become internationally labeled as the “Beat Junkie Style”, encompasses a practice that takes years to attain. The practice of precision, along with a driving imagination to create music incorporating the DJ techniques such as the blend and the scratch, have become the main factors in defining their distinguished expertise.
In 2015 the Beat Junkies transformed their passion for the “Arts” into a lifestyle brand that caters to all Artists inspired by music. The innovative designs are a play on the History of hip hop culture and its influence on the Beat Junkies. “What is a Beat Junkie? Simply anybody can be a ‘Beat Junkie’ if music has influenced his or her life in a special way. It is not just for DJs, it is for the creative artists from all walks of life.”- The Beat Junkies
Click Here To See Beat Junkie Lifestyle Look Book 1.0
No introduction needed for one of the best to do it, DJ Premier ! His signature sound has helped define Hip-Hop and inspired the DJ Community World Wide. Rhettmatic recently had the chance to get caught up with our good friend DJ Premier/ Preemo after his show at the Yost Theater in Santa Ana. Shout out to Keebler, Jeff, and the whole team at Headquarters. Special big up to the Man himself Preemo, for giving us a ton of exclusive music for the Record Pool. Make sure you go to our Record Pool section for the latest releases from DJ Premier’s own record label “Year Round”, and that Classic Premier Sound.
When did you know you wanted to be a producer?
DJ Premier: I knew I wanted to be a producer actually when I started reading the James Brown produced music. It always had a James Brown production. I did not know what a producer was, but it seemed like it fit what I thought it was once I became one. They must be the ones who are setting the whole tone how it is suppose to go down. He may not be playing everything; he may not even be playing any instrument; but he is going to be like “do it like this, or no no no, do it like that.” That is how I am, “put that there, and no that is in the wrong spot,” and it does not always have to be Hook/Rhyme, Hook/Rhyme or Verse/Hook, Verse Hook. Sometimes it can be unorthodox. You can do it any way, if you just feel it a certain way. That is why I like how James Brown says, “If it feels good, then it is good.” You do not want to follow a certain pattern; how does it feel when you do it? And that is how I do it! I do all my stuff organically and on the spot. I never knew about making beat tapes and stuff like that, and that just wasn’t me. Him (James Brown), Quincy Jones, Marley Marl is my all time Idol. I feel like he is the James Brown of Hip Hop production. It was just so funky with the records he made. It was just like, Yo there is so many great records, but he just had a style like so unexplainable. That is what made me say, “I got to do it!” Where somebody like him would say “I’m doing it right without being a biter!” No biting! We’re from the era where biting (pauses).. MAN!!! We saw many fights where people were going, “you bit my shit!” We witnessed beat downs over biting. Now you can sound the same and everybody will be like “yah, yah, just turn it up” and it’s like nah, nah, sound like your own self, so I can like your shit or otherwise your like a loaf of bread that doesn’t have a brand, you know what I am saying and I already got Wonder Bread.
Out of all the songs that you produced for Biggie, Jay-Z and Nas, which one is your favorite?
DJ Premier: (Exhales) Man! I like them all the same in different ways. I mean there were certain scenarios that gave birth to certain records. Certain Nas records were amazing, when we did New York State of Mind. Showbiz was there when I was cutting it. Showbiz was the one who put me into D&D. He was doing a session with Lord Finesse remixing “Return of the Funky Man Remix” and wanted me to scratch. So I went there to lay my scratches and they had to leave. So he was like “Yo when they finish the mix, make me a CASSETTE” and I made me one. So I hopped in my Mazda MPV and popped it in and it was just thumping. So I said “this is where I am going to make the next Gang Starr album “Daily Operation” at D&D, which is now Headquarters Studios.
How did you connect with Biggie for “Unbelievable?”
DJ Premier: Unbelievable came about by, I don’t want to say luck. Ummmm it was by him (Biggie) catching me at the right time. I was really busy at that time. You know Pete Rock, Large Professor, Showbiz, and me. We were all so heavily busy. We would all see each other and be in the same circles of music. Diamond D you know. The whole D.I.T.C crew, all that stuff. We were around all that, Tribe and De La (Soul) you know even Mr. Cee and (Big Daddy) Kane. We were all in the same circle of parties and events of things going on. So we all talked to each other about what we were doing next.
So it was like a fraternity?
DJ Premier: Yeah, yeah! Like all the time. So BIG and them were younger dudes. Even Jay-Z was a younger dude to us, not a lot younger, but young enough where we were glad to see them be next chapter of them bringing it in right. And then they did it, and I’m so happy for their careers. All that stuff there was a time when you had to do it right to be given a thumbs up everywhere you go and a salute. Street music man! It could go as mainstream as you want it to, but it had an origin. And I like the origin of the purest form, which is dope beats, dope rhymes, and scratching.
You’re pretty much the innovator of the Hook Scratch?
DJ Premier: That is just from watching people. When Terminator X did stuff, when Jam Master Jay and Cut Creator and Bobcat and Joe Cooley and you know what I’m saying. Even (Dr.) Dre was cutting shit up back in the N.W.A, ahh the Arabian Prince, and World Class Wreckin Cru days.
Are there any young producers right now catching your ear?
DJ Premier: On the young producer side, not really. Even though I study every one of them to see what they’re doing. I like the effort they put into staying in the game like the way we do it. The sound just does not grab me like the sound I was influenced by. I’m not being selfish or anything like that. It is just that I like what I like. So the newer stuff just doesn’t grab me. I like some of the artists, I like J.Cole, I like Drake, I like….ah some of Big Sean’s stuff. I’m not always into the production, but they got lyrics. So if we ever click, let’s get it in and I will give you a dirty one, but you know I just like raw lyrics. I’m from a certain funk! I’m a descendent of the funk! Like George Clinton and James Brown.
What is one song you wished you produced?
DJ Premier: I always say I wish I produced “The Bridge” by MC Shan. That record with just the drum roll, the echoes, just everything about that record as simple as it was. I remember hearing it at a RUN-D.M.C concert at my college Prairie View. Dana Dane and Clark Kent opened up and RUN-D.M.C was at the ‘apex of apex’ and they came to my school during the “Raising Hell” time. Like that was one of the most amazing things to witness, especially down there. It was one of the illest things; and when they were switching turntables to set it up and make sure the sound was right they were playing a 98.7Kiss mix from Red Alert, and I just started hearing, “Ladies and Gentlemen (beat boxing), we got MC Shan and Marley Marl in the house tonight (tonight) (echoes). They just came from off tour and they want to tell you a story about where they come from.” I was like, “what the hell is that?” I thought they were saying, “the breaks, the breaks, the breaks, the breaks,” and Kurtis Blow was already popular with “The Breaks” six years prior. And I was like, “what is like ‘the breaks, the breaks, the breaks?’” I went to New York for the summer and went to a record store and I was like, “what is that record ‘the breaks, the breaks?’ and the guy was like, “nah it is ‘the bridge, the bridge’ and it was on Bridge Records.” It looked like a ghetto, gutter, hard record, the green label and Bridge Records. And then I already knew Marley Marl from Dimples D and Roxanne Shante‘s early music. So to see that I was like, “he got another one, but it don’t sound like a drum machine programmed record.” It sounded like the record (Impeach the President, by Honey Drippers), but how is he making the record loop like that? I did not understand that and I was like, “I got to learn that science. Whatever that science is I got to learn that because that is dope!” And that is what made me start doing it.
Thank you to Power 106 for letting us drop by to announce the launch of our new site and cut it up with the Power Mixers. Word up to all the DJS at Power for their support. Ever, E-Man, Nick Ferrer, Eric Dlux, Big Syphe, Justin Incredible, Cokee, P-Jay, Inferno, Carisma, Reflex, Fuze, Vick One, Epic Twelve, Sourmilk, Felli Fel and Ingwell.