DJs do it better (Jam Master Jay tribute with DJ Muggs interview)

DJs do it better (Jam Master Jay tribute with DJ Muggs interview)
Andy Warhol. Jimmy Hendrix. Allen Ginsberg. Franklin Roosevelt. These are American classics of the XXth century. The list could go on longer but at the end of the day it’s not that long, compared to many other countries. Most importantly those names are not celebrated enough. The kids in today’s society mostly learn of Warhol’s revolutionary art or Ginsberg’s incredible intense poems only as a part of a school course. Hendrix may have arguably left the century as the greatest guitar player but those 70’s are just too far away for the Lil Wayne fans. FDR is a narrow highway by the east river in NYC more than the World War II President.

So, what does one do to remain in people’s hearts and minds? Unfortunately there isn’t much that can be done. So, most of the living legends tend to simply do what they want to do and care little about the longevity of their craft. If you know, you just know. If you don’t, there is nothing that can be done to help. Library cards are rather symbolic among kids. CliffNotes replaced the need to really hit the books. Internet is filled with information but it’s the small bits and pieces that people care about. Slogans, catchphrases, declaration and good intentions resonate far greater among people than actual solutions, workable implementations or expert opinions. Slogans are what President Bush used to get the entire US to want to invade Iraq in 2003. Slogans are what Barack Obama is using to get the same country to support him.

Not too many artists are avoiding slogans and the popular approach toward people. In Hip Hop almost all rappers are stuck with a choice: make commercial music or do shows in some other country. All American kids wanna hear is pop music, even if it’s Hip Hop pop music. The unusual exceptions are some of the Hip Hop DJs. Yes, there are those DJs that almost exclusively make commercial music. Timbaland is probably the best known case. Scott Storch is another one. Kanye manages to mix it between lending beats to Dilated Peoples and T-Pain. He produced Common’s last 2 albums and by no means would anyone call Common exclusively commercial. His own album, Graduation, sold near 1 million records in first week alone and was filled with club hits.

Still, to this day, the best interviews WORDSnTUNES has conducted had been with DJs. Thoroughly meticulous and beyond measure excellent at what they do these classic DJs don’t always play it to the crowd and largely remain in the shadows but still produce some of the best music born nowadays. DJ Premier. ?uestlove. DJ Muggs. Listening to Prem’s description of how he made Classic with Rakim, KRS-1, Nas and Kanye was phenomenal. ?uest’s take on music seemed like a magician making something straight out of thin air. Mugg’s dedication to music as an art form was breathtaking. If you need proof that these superstars do not focus on commercial work, take this into consideration: DJ Premier’s latest venture is a group called NYGz. Ever heard of them? ?uestlove loves to spin off the wall themes from TV series. DJ Muggs curses at the very mention of making music for the radio and loves his work with GZA.

Check out these interviews from WORDSnTUNES’s collection:

One DJ WORDSnTUNES unfortunately never interviewed was Jam Master Jay. R.I.P. to another XXth Century classic. Now there is JMJ Foundation for Music. 2007 J.A.M. Awards was a phenomenal show to commemorate his memory. De La Soul, Dead Prez, DJ Muggs, EPMD, LL Cool J, Everlast, Kid Capri, Mobb Deep, Papoose, MOP, Snoop Dogg, Marley Marl, Raekwon and more legends came out and performed. Melle Mel, Kool Herc, DMC, Biz Markie, Grandmaster Caz and others attended. It was truly an extraordinary night of music.

So whenever you listen to music, please remember: there is something else out there. It’s raw. It’s superb. It’s real. It’s different. It’s there for you.

Dmitriy Goldin