Sunday, March 9, 2008
Can You Dig It? Volume 18: DJ Wicked
Name: DJ Wicked
Claim to Fame: I guess my claim to fame is being able to make a living doing music and being successful at it without having to sell my soul. That might not sound like anything worthy of fame in the traditional sense of the word, but it’s my most cherished achievement of them all. Not just anybody can do what they love to do for a living without having to compromise their musical integrity. I feel proud to have earned the position that I play and blessed to have maintained the strength and dignity that has gotten me where I’m today.
As far as my tangible accomplishments are concerned, I have all kinds of product available from CD’s to vinyl to shirts to shoes. I’ve toured and collaborated with a whole roster of talented artists. I’ve been a voice for both hip hop preservation and hip hop advancement for as long as I can remember. I won’t sit here and go on about those achievements, but if you’re truly interested in finding out more about me, just Google search DJ Wicked and all of your wildest fantasies will come true.
Representing: Born and raised in Razorblade City aka The Hate Northwest aka Portland, Oregon to be exact.
Years in the Game: I’ve been both collecting and spinning vinyl on what I would consider to be a serious level from 1992 up ‘til the present. So, if you were to base my years in the game upon those credentials alone, I guess you could say about 16 years and change, although I’ve been into hip-hop, graffiti, and even break dancing since long before that.
Before I get too far ahead of myself in this interview, one thing I’d like to make clear from the get go is that by no means do I consider myself an authority of any kind when it comes to record digging and/or collecting. Especially when it comes to old funk, soul, jazz, and rare groove records. I just don’t have the in-depth knowledge about those genres of music, or the time and desire that it would take to become what I would consider to be an authority. Don’t get me wrong, I do have major respect and appreciation for all of those genres of music, and if you love hip hop as much as I do, then you absolutely have to have that respect for them. After all, it’s that old funk, jazz, and soul that has made hip hop what it is today.
For me personally, it’s actual hip hop records both old and new that have always been my passion. Yes, I still spin records, and solely spin records….and I mean real records, not time coded Serato discs. A lot of cats got lazy and fell off the record digging lifestyle as soon as the whole era of the laptop DJ became popular. Not me. I’m still representing for the few remaining vinyl purists out there....for now anyways (Laughs).
Best Digging City or Town: It’s hard to say. Believe it or not, Spokane, Washington has always treated me really well. I’ve got my little spot out there that I like to frequent when I’m in the area. I also found some pretty cool stuff while I was over in this little coastal town in Spain called Alicante. I found some fun old disco 12”s over there and even a wacky import version of Sir Mix-A-Lots “Baby got Back” (Laughs).
My hometown of Portland has also been pretty good to me over the years. We have tons of record stores here. I remember picking up DJ Z-trip from the airport around 2001 when he came to Portland to perform at some show. He was telling me how dope he thought the Portland area record stores were and how every time he’d been to Portland, he would always come up on some good scores at our record stores.
Most Prized Piece of Wax: That would have to be the We’re in this Together album by Low Profile. This definitely isn’t my most valuable piece of wax, but it’s probably one of my all time favorites. Low Profile consisted of one emcee, WC, and one DJ, DJ Aladdin. They released We’re in this Together in 1989 and in my opinion, not only were they way ahead of their time, but to me they represented everything pure about hip hop, know what I mean?
They lived up to the now clichéd phrase “Two turntables and a microphone”. They were both phenomenal at their craft, and it really showed in this project, as they were able to create an album that was totally solid from start to finish. There wasn’t one filler song on that record. And they were literally “in this together”. It wasn’t just a DJ backing up an emcee. It was more of a team effort, and both the emcee and the DJ got to shine on almost every track. That album featured classics like “Pay Your Dues”, “Funky Song”, and “Aladdin’s On a Rampage”. That album was amazing to me and it’s still one of my favorites to this day. It definitely influenced my perspective of what a hip hop album should be.
Favorite Album Cover/s: Just Ice always had the dope album covers. That Kool and Deadly cover with him smiling with the gold fronts is ill.
Of course Ice-T’s Power was dope.
Schooly D had the super recognizable, hand drawn, graffiti influenced covers. LL Cool J, Biz Markie and Public Enemy always had the illest album covers too. There’s so many, I don’t know if it’s even possible to pick a favorite!
Dollar Bin Miracle: When I was first getting into DJing, I happened to have this older OG homie of mine who was into all kinds of illegal activities, but also happened to be really into music as well. He even had a pair of turntables and lots of old records that he said he had acquired from his parents old collection.
Anyway, having just purchased my first pair of turntables myself, I really wanted to get my hands on some records so that I could start playing around and learning how to cut and mix. After a little bit of persuading, I eventually talked him into giving me two full crates of vinyl in exchange for these two little .25 caliber Saturday night special pistols that I had. There was all kinds of shit in those crates and at the time I had no idea what any of it was. It just looked like a bunch of old dusty disco records to me. It wasn’t until years later that I realized what I had actually gotten in those two crates. There was some Earth, Wind & Fire in there, some Blackbyrds, The Meters, The Commodores…all kinds of good shit.
Total Records Owned: Man…I have so many records that it would be nearly impossible to try and guesstimate even an approximate number. It’s overwhelming just thinking about it. Put it this way…I have enough records to completely consume an entire house and at this point in time, my records are doing precisely that. It’s at a point where I should be seriously considering renting some sort of separate storage unit for them. In fact, it’s well beyond that point.
Best Digging Story: There’s this record store in Portland, Oregon called Platinum Records. They sell DJ gear and all kinds of vinyl ranging from 80’s to underground hip hop to current top 40 crap. It’s owned and operated by a couple of partners that were both former DJ’s back in the day. Anyway, little do most people know, but Platinum Records also has an attic up above the store which is filled with thousands upon thousands of old records. Most of them are from the owner’s old personal collections.
Unfortunately, the records in the attic have been pretty picked over at this point, but a few years back there were all kinds of gems that could be found up there. Back then they would occasionally let a few select people up into the attic to dig. I happened to be one of the fortunate ones that got to go up there and do my thing from time to time.
One day back in December of ’03 I stop by Platinum records around noontime and ask the owner if it’s cool if I go up into the attic to do some digging. He says. “Cool, have fun up there”, and he escorts me into the attic and shuts the door behind me, then he returns back downstairs to the sales floor. I’m up there doing my thing, all bundled up in my down jacket and winter gloves. It’s cold as fuck up in the attic. Not only is there no heat, but some of the windows up there wouldn’t shut all the way either.
So I’m up there freezing my ass off, but it doesn’t discourage me one bit because I’m just stoked to be surrounded by all of these amazing records. I got my portable turntable going, I’ve got stacks upon stacks of vinyl picked out, I’m listening to tons of cool old shit…I’m just in that zone, you know? I get so immersed in my own dream world up there that eventually I completely lose all track of time. I think I snapped out of my zone when I realized that my finger tips were so cold that I couldn’t feel them anymore.
I glanced at my watch to see what time it was, and it said 7:30 pm. I though to myself, “Wait a minute, Platinum closes at 7pm…that was half an hour ago. Oh shit!” I rushed downstairs and pushed the door open into the actual sales floor part of the store, and it’s completely dark in there. I’m talking pitch black. The store had closed, everyone had gone home for the day, and I was locked inside. Not that being trapped inside of a record store overnight would be the worst thing that could happen to a DJ, but it was cold as hell in there, plus I had to work at the club that night. I decided to try the front door and see if I could somehow let myself out. I took one step toward the door and the motion detector set off the alarm.
So at this point it’s pitch black, the front door is locked, the alarm is blaring like a god damn air raid siren, and now the cops are gonna show up and think I’ve broken into the place. I run back up into the attic where there was actually some light, and I remember that I have the store owner’s phone number programmed into my cell phone. So I give him a call real quick and explain the situation. He said that he had totally forgotten that I was up in the attic when he had closed down the store earlier. Luckily for me, he had only gotten about 10 minutes from the store when I called him, so he was able to get back in time to shut off the alarm and let me out of the store before the cops showed up.
From that day on, I’ve always made sure that I only allow myself a certain amount of time when I’m digging somewhere. I always set the alarm on my watch to warn me when my time is up, because you really can lose all track of time when you’re in that digging zone.
To find out more about DJ Wicked check out his website or MySpace.