The Spinzone

For the DJ's Spinning Vinyl, Beat Diggers, Hip Hop Culture, Vinyl (Record) Junkies, Fashion & Lifestyle.

Saturday, September 30, 2006


The Spinzone

September 30, 2006
Sony Connect

This blog is for the DJ's spinning vinyl on the ones & twos in the clubs. For the mixshow DJ's that are still using the old school vinyl on the radio or wherever those turntables are spinning. Also for the Beat Diggers and Crate Diggers. I know you are out there. With the growing popularity among DJ's to utilize digital technology, CD's, mp3's and programs such as
Final Scratch and Serrato Scratch Live the DJ spinning vinyl is fast becoming an extinct breed. There are still some DJ's out there spinning the vinyl and this blog is for you.

Let me give you some history on how I became interested in the DJ game.

I started listening to music in the 60's! I remember the first time I saw
James Brown on the show that the great Dick Clark hosted before American Bandstand. I can't even remember the name of the show because I was only about 6 or 7 years old at the time, but it was a TV show that was taped on the beach and I was mesmerized by James Brown's performance.

My Mom & Dad had one of those big bulky console stereos with the radio and record player housed in what looked like a big piece of furniture with the top that lifted up in the middle and a lot of wood. . . and the two speakers in the front. I really used it a lot as a kid once they trusted me to operate it without damaging it. I would play the 45 records that my Mom and Dad purchased and the one record that I absolutely played to death all of the time was "Fingertips" by Stevie Wonder. I really thought Stevie Wonder was remarkable because he wasn't much older than I was at the time and he could play so many instruments and was a fantastic musician and songwriter. I am really dating myself. You can probably guess my age (if Stevie Wonder isn't much older than I am).

I had an Aunt that would care for my older sister, younger brother and myself that had a massive record collection. It was at her house that I really fell in love with vinyl records. My Aunt would not allow us to touch her records, but she was very good at playing all of the hottest songs that were coming out at the time. We didn't even have to make requests because she knew what we would like before we did! She was quite a selector! She should have been a DJ, but she had so many children and grandchildren that she really didn't have the time. She is about 90 years old now and her health isn't the greatest, but she remembers who I am even if I don't go to her house for a year.

By the time I entered junior high school one of my favorite groups were the Funkadelics! George Clinton is STILL the man! James Brown is the Godfather Of Soul and George Clinton is the Godfather Of Funk! Just check the number of times both of them have been sampled by hip hop artists! All through junior high school and high school I listened to a lot of different music. I liked groups like Brass Construction, B.T. Express, Cameo, Earth, Wind & Fire, Kool & The Gang and many more, but when Parliament Funkadelic, Bootsy Collins or any of the other many groups that were spawned by the Funkadelics (Brides Of Funkenstein, Parlets, etc.) came out with something new I had to go to the store and spend any money that I had to get it. I purchased my own stereo system at about the age of 15 and started collecting records. That was in the early 70's!

After high school I went to college for a couple of years and the one thing that really fascinated me during those years were the parties on and off campus and how the DJ's would keep the party rocking by mixing back and forth on 2 turntables! I grew up in Michigan and one of the most innovative DJ's I can remember hearing on the radio as a teenager was a guy by the name of
"The Electrifying Mojo". I actually heard The Electrifying Mojo when I would visit my sister in Ann Arbor, Michigan when she attended the University Of Michigan. I was about 17 at that time and the thing about Mojo was he would play whatever he felt was hot and didn't play the same stuff all of the time like a lot of radio DJ's would. The streets LOVED him for that. He would play stuff like Devo, David Bowie, Prince, Parliament, James Brown and he was an official Ghetto Superstar in the Detroit area.

I grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan (home of
Al Green, The De Barge family and "Pretty Boy" Floyd Mayweather), which is on the west side of the state. I went to college in the fall of 1975 in East Lansing, Michigan at Michigan State University, which is located right in the middle of the state. I couldn't help but notice that when I went to the parties I would hear music that wasn't being played on the west side of the state in Grand Rapids on radio or in any club (remember in 1975 an 18 year old kid could go the bar and buy a drink). The music was coming from Detroit. Detroit is a music mecca. It is the birthplace of techno music. The beats that were created in Detroit by Juan Atkins, Kevin Saunderson and Derrick May were the precursor to what is now known as "Rave music". These guys were doing the same thing almost 30 years ago that Rave party promoters are doing today. They were way ahead of their time and definitely influenced my decision to become a DJ.

During my freshman year at Michigan State University, I worked as an usher for a student run company at concerts called, "Ebony Productions". During my sophomore year, I was promoted within that company and became the Director of Ushers at all of the R&B concerts that were held at MSU that year (that meant free tickets to the shows and actually working at the student union the day that the tickets went on sale to extremely hot events at that time)

I would go to the record store in East Lansing and buy the hot songs that I would hear coming from Detroit and return to Grand Rapids and if I went to a party at home, I would take those records to the party with me and usually the person giving the party would know me and would let me play the records that I brought with me. I applied for a summer job at a General Motors plant in the Grand Rapids area during my sophomore year in college, got the job in the summer of 1977 and never returned to school. After about 2 years on that job, the people at work started asking me to play records at parties they gave. By this time I had enough money to purchase 2 direct drive Technics turntables with pitch control on them and learned how to beat mix pretty good and was introducing many of the people who hired me to a new way of dancing to the music. I learned how to pace my sets and watch the crowd and figure out when to slow it down and how to save my best sets for the end of the party so they would always want more at the end of the night.

Around 1979, a record was played on national radio by a group called "The Fatback Band" called
"King Tim III (Personality Jock)". I'm quite sure this wasn't the very first rap record, but it was one of the first that was played nationally on the radio. My younger brother was going to Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan and called me and told me that a concert was coming to Detroit and I could come there and work as an usher. The concert was headlined by Kurtis Blow and The Fatback Band was also on the bill. Of course I was right there and got paid to watch a great show and was hooked on hip hop ever since.

I am still hooked on
hip hop music and culture and even though both the music and culture have changed dramatically over the last 25 years there is still some hip hop music that remains true to the roots. Anyone who has been observing the development of this raw form of entertainment understands that once corporate america gets a grip on anything it is never the same. However, there are hip hop groups that have changed the game. For example, The Roots have brought back live instrumentation along with the DJ providing the backbeat to create a collage of sound hotter than New Orleans gumbo. Another aspect that cannot be ignored is the success that hip hop artists have achieved when crossing over into television and film. Ice-T, Ice Cube, Queen Latifah, Ludacris, Snoop Dogg, Bow Wow, Master P, Redman & Method Man, Xzibit, DMX, Nas, Sean "Diddy" Combs, 2Pac and many other hip hop artists are regularly seen on the screen.

I hope you find this blog interesting. My personal story is probably quite boring but I will continue to update my blog on a regular basis with as much information as I possibly can. I left out some details but will fill in the blanks later. It is now about 5:00 AM and I need to rest to recharge my batteries so I can come back soon and give you more information. Come back and check me out later this week and please
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