featured interview

DJ Spinna A Branch Of Boom Bap Avid record collector, all-round producer and devoted DJ, Brooklyn’s DJ Spinna is known from his hip-hop endeavours with groups Jigmastas and Polyrhrythm Addicts, his critically acclaimed underground productions on the Rawkus imprint, but also from many adventures beyond hip-hop. One of those is BBE Music’s ’Best of Perception & Today Records’, released April 24th and compiled by the music addict himself. The record is a delightful overview of the Perception Records catalogue, a label that flourished in the late sixties-early seventies, and offered some of the finest in jazz, R&B and soul with signed artists such as Dizzy Gillespie, The Fatback Band and Astrud Gilberto…

Perception Records has a very eclectic discography, from funk over soul to R&B to jazz. A joy for you, right?

A definite joy. I've been listening to records from the Perception catalog since I was a young boy. Once I started collecting, it was one of the labels I always looked out for. All of the genres Perception covered make up who I am today.

Many hip-hop artists have sampled from the Perception catalogue. So you didn't find some samples used in hip-hop that you weren't aware of?

Not really. I'm on top of my game when it comes to that.

So how hard was it to select the tracks, did you feel like a kid in a toy store?

It was easy for me because I was already familiar with most of tracks I selected. I did have to do some research and dig a little to find a few albums that were pretty hard to obtain like the Madhouse, and Eight Minutes. Digging is always fun for me though. It just means more records in the collection.

A well-known name on the record label was Astrud Gilberto. She equals 'The Girl From Ipanema' are you a fan of the song?

I'm a fan of that song for sure. It's a classic.

Jobim, Joao Gilberto, Donato, people who are a bit into Brasilian music, are familiar with them. But could you name a few of your personal favourites?

Joyce, Fuzi 9, Azymuth, Carlos Dafe, Ana Mazotti, Toni Tornado, Antonio Adolfo, Di Melo, Ivan linns, Arthur Verocai, Marcos Valle, Ed Lincoln, Tania Maria,... the list goes on and on. I'm a serious Brasilian music collector and have been for years.

Madlib and Dilla have been always interested in Brasilian music...I remember their trip to Brazil a.o., did you go record digging in Brasil yet?

I haven't been to Brazil yet. I'm can't wait to get there! And when I do it's going to be on and poppin' with the digging. I have got a lot of records from dealers in Brazil on eBay but that's about it so far.

Are there still Dilla productions of which you say: 'how did he flip that sample?'

So many. He was the king of sample flipping, hands down. In his late years before his untimely passing I marvelled over the beat amicably known as 'Dancing Dilla' where he destroyed The Jackson 5's 'Dancing Machine'. The first time I heard it, I couldn't believe what I was listening to, and I still have that big question mark over my head.

You were an underground go-to producer in the nineties, the Rawkus era, after that you focused on genres outside hip-hop, what made you step away from hip-hop more?

I got burned out and bored. I was producing a ton of records in a short period of time. At one point the hip-hop scene changed so much to where the style of beats I was making became less of a demand. Not to mention, the underground hip-hop scene started getting really crowded with wackness. I've always wanted to do other things so I felt it was time to venture out.

But then on 'Sonic Smash' you took it back to straight-up, no nonsense hip-hop. What was your motivation?

Well I never completely stopped making hip-hop. I just slowed down. Honestly though, Dilla's passing was one of my inspirations for taking it back. The fact that he kept working so hard throughout his illness and making so many burners made me feel like I had to step my game up. Especially after he passed, I felt like there weren't too many producers from our generation left that understand 'records', the art of digging and flipping records the way we came up doing it. My goal for making 'Sonic Smash' was to fill a void.

Your beats sounded less spacey than before...

The spacey thing was an era for me. I feel like I still have my sound but beats nowadays don't need a ton of things going on to get the point across like before. I occasionally still implement elements of spacey electronic vibes in my beats but definitely not as much as before. There's a time and place for that sound. Sometimes I feel that raw vibe too. The way hip-hop used to be.

The Jigmastas album is how close to being finished?

We're about 75 percent done. It's one of those things where we want to keep recording to keep the material fresh and new. At some point we need to stop and bring the project home.

There's an album coming with Shabaam Sahdeeq too right?

Yes, and I'm also working on albums for Dynas and my man Oxygen (SPOX PHD). My brand of boom bap is underway in abundance!

What records are you listening to a lot nowadays?

Not many. I would glimpse new projects here and there a few times, then move on. As far as hip-hop, the last thing I picked up was this Eric Lau and Guilty Simpson album. Pretty fresh stuff there. I've also been digging Damu the Fudgemunk's music, he keeps it funky. Another album I've enjoyed recently is J Rawls 'The Hip Hop Effect', he gets it. My man Gensu Dean also gets it, his album is dope as well.

MCA of the Beastie Boys recently passed away. He was from Brooklyn just like you. How do you remember him?

I love the Beastie Boys. The first record I bought from them was 'Cookie Puss', this was when they were still a punk band. It was such a youthful fun record, and I realized even back then how important it was to be yourself as an artist, which MCA and the Beasties have always done. I'll remember MCA as a humanitarian and the MC with one of the illest voices in hip-hop of all time. He was so raw on the mic. This is a huge loss in the world of music. He's a legend and will be missed.

Astrud Gilberto's now a painter, what would you see yourself doing after your music career?

Music will always be my career until I'm in the box! Even if I slow down one day and possibly score films, teach music history, or DJ. I know DJ's that still travel the world who are in their early 60's. I will always be involved with music.

 

POSTED 05|14|2012
conducted by cpf

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