DJ Chronicles – 4: Keep The Turntables Turnin’…

Well, somebody must have been paying attention to me while I was trying to make my mark in the Minnesota turntablist scene. One of the first gigs I got asked to do was to provide music for a house party over by the U of M. Boy was that an adventure. It was during my first Minnesota winter, and it was in the basement of somebody’s house, in the corner, on a couple of belt-drive turntables and a $50 Gemini mixer. And the whole setup was under some pipes that started dripping directly onto the equipment (which I’m glad wasn’t mine) once the room filled up with people. I escaped that non-paying gig with my life, and figured there was nowhere to go but up from there.

I also got invited to guest DJ at a few clubs around the Twin Cities. There was never much money involved, but I figured I needed to get my name out there. I was still hoping to get my very own club residency somewhere, but the spots I managed to get into were either unpopular, or in the parts of Minneapolis-St. Paul that no one knew or cared about. My name wasn’t enough to pack the venues, and after a few weeks of me playing to empty or nearly-empty rooms, the managers told me not to bother showing up.

4-27-15-dg-1-LeBaron-dance floor
“Somebody say ‘HO-OH!’ Somebody? ANYBODY??”

After opening up a couple of shows for some local Hip Hop acts, an MC who went by the name Capaciti asked if I’d like to be his show DJ. I’d done a little bit of that when I was in L.A.; I was the DJ for some shows for Droop Capone and The Black Love Crew, which allowed me the opportunity to be on stage at the Whisky A-Go-Go and the Roxy on the Sunset Strip, among other places. So, I did a couple of shows, and I had my little solo moment to show off the skills, and through that, I managed to land my first radio residency.

Radio was also something I really wanted to do. Whatever part of the country I was in, I would scour the radio dial, searching for mixshows that allowed the DJ to cut, scratch and trick-mix, in addition to just blending from one song into the other. I sent out a few demo tapes to radio stations to see if they wanted a real DJ with real turntablism chops to do a show. I heard nothing back. So, when noted Hip Hop aficionado Kevin Beacham asked me if I’d like to be one of the rotating DJs for RSE Radio, I jumped at the chance.

Minneapolis is the home base for Rhymesayers Entertainment (RSE), the record company that’s home to artists such as Atmosphere, Brother Ali, and others. They had a weekly 2-hour block reserved on KFAI-FM every Saturday night, starting at 9 p.m. They had the on-air personalities, and the DJ for each week rotated between myself and five to seven of my DJ friends. We did the shows live for the first few years. I loved being a part of it.

I also loved that when RSE decided to put on a Hip Hop festival called Soundset in 2008, They had me and all my colleagues DJing between acts. It was only about a half hour set, but I loved being up on that big stage. I had hoped they would ask us back in the coming years, but that wasn’t the case. I did manage to talk myself into a spot at 2009’s Soundset, and it almost turned out to be the biggest mistake of my life.


To Be Continued…

Featured Image: Bassist Joe, MC Capaciti, and DJ J. Love The Soundsmith (Me).

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