djabeats.com


 
posted: 01-13-05
interview : tadah
 
 
 
 
 
Okay, please introduce yourself.
I'm DJ A-Beats, VA's Finest!
Who's VA's second finest? (smiles)
There are lots of cats doing it, but I definitely have to shout my man Rerok. He was running the mixtape game in VA way before I got into it. But he has been chilling and working on his artist Born Unique lately.
Any crew affiliations we should know about?
I'm down with a lot of people, but really rep myself. I'm not an official member of any crew. I just rep good Hip Hop.
So where are you from?
I'm originally from Mexico City, but I've lived most of my life in VA. So I def rep VA to the fullest baby!
How is life there?
Mexico City is crazy. If you sleep for a sec you are gonna get played. But at the same time it is one of the most amazing places in the world. The diversity of Mexico is amazing. There are so many amazing cultures all thrown in one city, I love it.
As for VA: it is definitely much calmer, but at the same time the DC metro area is very fast paced. There are some things I hate about the area, but its where I was raised. So I have a lot of love for the area, because my peoples are here. I will rep VA forever. It's where I'm from and I'm not ashamed to say it.
Now, Virginia is not Texas, but it's still big. So where exactly do you reside?
I'm actually living in DC right now, but I lived in Northern Virginia right outside of DC.
How often do you go back to Mexico City?
I try and go back every year, but I can't always do that. Most of my family is down there, so I try and go see them as much as possible.
Isn't Mexico City the biggest city in the world?
It use to be the most populated, but I think its like number three after Beijing and I believe Sao Paulo is also more populated. Shit is huge; makes LA look small.
DF represent! Distrito Federal is the real name for Mexico City. It's actually named Mexico D.F, like Washington DC.
What do we need to know about you?
I love this hip hop thing. I'm just a dude who is trying to take part of the strongest movement of our time. Hip hop breads life, love and passion.
I know some cats may be like this guy is cheesy as hell (laughs), but I mean every word. Hip Hop is the most influential culture of our generation and I hope to help bring some positive actions to it. I respect the music and the culture and that will never stop no matter how large I get, or if I stop DJing in two years. That's all that people need to know about me.
Any fun facts about you?
I love to travel man, especially eat foreign foods - or even regional food. The best part of traveling is learning about different cultures.
I also love to have fun man, deep down I'm just a little kid. You wont ever catch me taking life too serious. But trust me: I handle my business. However, the day I cant laugh at some silly ass joke is the day I die.
So, what are you plugging right now?
Right now: I've got this mixcd, "The Eastcoast Invasion", that I did with DJ JS-1 of Rocksteady Crew, Ground Original, DJ for Razhel fame. Check djjs1.com. It's hosted by Doujah Raze - check trilogyonwax.com. The response to it has been great and I am very enthusiastic about what doors this project will open for me.
As for the future I have a lot of ideas but nothing is set in stone. But I can tell you what my next project will be. My partner Double J from Trilogy Records - of Doujah Raze fame, trilogyonwax.com - and I will be releasing a Best of D&D Studios CD, hosted by Krumb Snatcha. So make sure you stay tuned to djabeats.com for all the up to date information.
Tell us what you hope we'll get out of this record.
I'm just trying to increase my fan base. It's hard being a mixtape DJ. With the internet anybody can download shit, scream over it, and call themselves a DJ. The market is very saturated, but I'm coming with something different.
If you ever get one of my CD's, I actually mix on them. In today's world, this is a very rare thing. So I'm basically trying to get my name out there as much as possible.
Nevertheless even on your records, the mixing is much tamer than what it used to be. How come?
That's partly due to the consumers. Most mixtape buyers haven't heard old school mixes where everything was mixed and you were judged by your mix, not by the amount of exclusive material. So I like to have a little of both. I definitely want to show some of my DJing talent, but at the same time I need to be able to compete with other DJs. I try and please both.
Plus in my own personal taste, I like to hear a smooth mix from beginning to end without too much trickery. Sometimes all that cutting and scratching takes away from a track.
Don't get me wrong: I love and appreciate DJs that cut the shit out of records, but I don't like my mixes to sound like that. I like them to be smooth and continuous.
How do you get all the songs that are on your mixcds?
I get tracks a lot of ways. Sometimes artists send me material, record labels send me stuff, promotion companies send me stuff, or I get an artists to do a song/freestyle exclusively for the CD.
You release mixtapes with quite a regularity. I assume you like the frequency, but could it also be too fast?
Shit, I wish I could release them more often (laughs). I release a CD about every three to four month. To me that's not too much. But hey, different people have different opinions.
What's the average life span of a mixcd?
It depends what type of CD you do. For example my next CD, "Unforgettable: The Best of D&D Studios" is going to be timeless because the material on that CD is classic. But other CDs usually have a life span of two to three months; or even less. It all depends on the listener.
How can you make a mixcd timeless?
Doing a "Best of…", or making an amazing mix. You got to bring you're A game to create a timeless mixcd.
You got nominated for one of your mixtapes. Tell us about that.
It was a huge surprise. I really began taking the mixtape game serious in the start of '03. And I got nominated for a CD in the Fall of '03. It was nice to get recognized in a fairly quick manner. It just motivated me to work harder and to put out better CDs.
And make sure you go to themixtapeawards.com and vote DJ A-Beats for Best Underground DJ and Rookie of the Year! Sorry had to throw that in there (laughs).
Did that nomination change anything: like is it easier to approach guys now?
It helped with recognition. More people know my name and my CD is in more stores. But like I said: it only makes me want to work harder because I have a long way to go in this game.
Why do team up with someone, rather than do it yourself?
It helps with reaching people in different regions. If you have two DJ's out there hustling and getting the CD in stores, that is way better then just one guy doing that. It can also help one person more then another.
For example take my newest CD with JS-1: I have been creating a buzz with my mixtapes, but by no means am I as big a name as JS. So it helps me to be associated with a bigger name. The CD speaks for itself, but a lot more people will recognize JS's name versus mine. So it just helps me to gain a larger audience. But at the same time it helps JS get his name out as well, because I'm out there grinding and getting the CD in as many stores as possible. So it's a win, win situation.
How does someone get Grafh on one's record?
Contact his management at Black Hand Ent. Real good people. Grafh is mad cool as well. A lot of cats have big heads, not Grafh. He will work with anybody as long as you approach him the right way.
And pay the right amount of money?
(laughs) Some people might say that as well, but I wouldn't know. I've never paid a guy a cent to be on my CD and vice versa: I've never charged a cent to get on one of my CDs.
Speaking of money: how much money is there in hustling mixcds?
There is a lot of money. You just got to do it right. Green Lantern is doing his thing right now. That cat moves like 10,000+ a CD. He is seeing some money of the CDs. But where he is really making money is from all the attention he makes from the CDs. They are a way to create a buzz for yourself. To get your name out there and get more gigs/ sell some beats/ etc. They are really just a stepping stone to real money.
In your 'year end wrap up' (read it here) you do mentioned doing beats: what can you tell us about that?
I just got started. I'm using an MPC2000XL and I need to spend more time with it. But I will most definitely have some heat for y'all in '05.
Now, as much as I know, your brother does your artwork, right? Say something about that.
Yeah my brother does almost all of my artwork. He is an extremely talented artists who has stepped into graphic design. He has a company R5 Creative. So if y'all like the work he's done, just shoot me an email and I'll get you in touch with him. He is very talented and extremely diverse.
Sorry for the plug, gotta help out fam whenever possible.
How did you get into this lil' culture we call hip hop?
Man, since the day I was introduced to hip hop I became part of the scene. My family moved to this country when I was about 7. We lived in a mostly Black neighborhood in Richmond, VA and I was introduced to hip hop rather quickly.
My brother is definitely the person responsible for getting me hooked. He would come home with Run-DMC, NWA, Erick B & Rakim tapes and play them for me. He would dub them from friends at school or he would buy them with the small amount of money he had. I wasn't exposed to tons of it at first, but it definitely sparked my interest. I had never heard anything like it before. I started to search for it myself, and by middle school I could recite all of BDP's LPs. The rest is history.
What is it about this culture that influences and inspires you?
The diversity of it is amazing. Hip Hop offers something for everybody. And it never stops growing. It is continually being adopted all over the world and being transformed into something special. Everybody takes it into their own hands and makes of it what they want. It's beautiful.
Speaking of growing: how's the Mexican hip hop scene?
It needs a lot of help. There isn't really a big scene. I think the problem is that there is no access to records or turntables. I mean Mexico City is one of the biggest cities in the world, but there isn't a single place where you can go buy new Hip Hop records. So if you can't buy records, you don't have DJ's. And trust me you don't want to order wax online: the Mexican Postal System is the most unreliable in the world. And I ship CDs worldwide.
So if you have no DJs it's really hard to get a scene started.
Back to you: What had you start participating, rather than just watching and listening?
I've been a fan since I was introduced to it and my participation was gradual. My brother is a graph writer and started at a very young age, so that influenced me a lot. I started breaking a little in highschool, nothing serious, just fucking around with some homies.
But I really got started participating in middle school when I would make pause tapes - rerecord my favorite tracks on tapes with skits and shit - and give them to all of my boys. I did one every couple of months. I guess you could say they where my first mixtapes.
The transition from that into real mixtapes was easy, once I learned how to DJ (laughs). But I really got serious about DJing when I started to work at the radio station at my alma mater, James Madison University. That's when I realized I would be DJing for the rest of my life.
If you weren't an DJ though, what other job would you like to have?
See, I don't see it as a job. Well at least not yet. I love this shit and I would be doing this anyways, even if it was in my basement by myself. But something I really want to learn and can see myself doing is learning more about engineering. Eventually I would like to have my own studio.
Who would you like to work with the most? Dead or living? Why?
Man there are so many people.
Living I would say KRS, Ghostface, Nas, Jigga and Redman. I know those are big names, but I see it happening one day.
As far as others: I really would have loved to collab with Big L. I think he would be running shit right now. To me he had enough commercial appeal to crossover, but he would have done it tastefully. He was the shit, RIP.
Outside of Hip Hop there are so many people who have inspired me. People like Santana, Tito Puente, Prince, Michael Jackson, etc. These are all people with insane musical talent and I think they would make - or would have made - some amazing Hip Hop music, especially Tito. That guy would have brought some crazy ass rhythms. Imagine if someone showed him how to us an MPC or an ASR. That guy would have been a genius. Well, even more then he already was. (laughs)
There's a lot of fans, especially young rap fans, that don't listen to anything but rap anymore. However rap as a much - and you apparently too - grew up by listening or mixing with other genres. What's your stance on that and how do you think will it effect rap music or the hip hop culture?
I have a lot of issues with young rap fans. They have no knowledge of the music. Now I know I'm making a general statement, but your average rap fan has no idea what happened ten years ago. That wasn't the case when I was younger: you heard constant references to groups that came before.
The problem is that hip hop is no longer a music, it's a business. So the people with control of the radio and MTV/BET want to sell you a product. Don't get me wrong: I like some of this product. But it all comes down to making money. So you hear the same twenty five artists over and over until the masses think that these are the only groups that exist. So in return, these young so called rap fans have no idea that there are literally thousands of other groups out there and that these groups have influences outside of rap.
It's definitely hurting rap because you have cookie cutter music that the following generation of musicians is trying to create. But I think it will change and you will hear more diversity on the radio and TV.
File sharing on the internet: I do it too, or I'll do you if you do it?
Nowadays everybody gets shit from the internet one way or the other. I'm not the type of dude that goes to places and downloads mad music, but at the same time I get so much music emailed to me, and I'm sure some of it is not authorized by the artists/labels.
Now, I see the whole internet downloading as a catch 22. It can really help you create a buzz for your music. Because it gives people access to your music. Otherwise a lot of people would have no idea who you are. But the problem is when material is released that wasn't meant to be release. Like unfinished/unmixed songs, or songs that wont make the final cut of the LP. Shit like that. It's crazy how much that can harm an artist.
I could talk forever about this shit, it gets me beefed when people don't respect other peoples music. But lets just go to the next joint. (laughs)
What was the last album/showcase/experience that had you go: man, I better step up my skills before I step out with something again?
Hearing DJs like Z-Trip. That guy's creativity is amazing. I wish I could come up with a quarter of the ideas he has. If you have never seen him spin, you need to. That shit is hot. Other then that, I don't really get shocked by too many people, I like to do me and that's it.
What do you really enjoy listening to right now?
I've been banging the Foreign Exchange LP, still banging the Ghost LP, Prince LP, Green Lantern + Siegel mixtape. This compilation by Neblina Records; I did the intro to that, go cop it at neblinarecords.com. Sorry had to throw the plug (laughs). And a lot of joints that I have and can't put on CDs cause artists have sent them to me, but they're like: "hold that homie." So I got to respect their hustle. But best believe the DC area has some unbelievable music coming shortly.
Can you at least name names though? Also other artists that we need to look out for and why?
No doubt: my man Doujah Raze is someone who is gonna make some noise in '05. He is a really talented guy and has some unbelievable music. Peep www.trilogyonwax.com for some info. Then there is the whole Low Budget crew: Kev Brown, Critically Acclaimed, Kenn Starr, Oddisee, Ken Wood, Kaimbr, DJ Roddy Rod, Cy Young. These guys are very talented. They got some heat for your ass. Can't forget about my homeboy Born Unique, this guys has some crack for y'all! And this is just in the DC area.
When you hang up your superhero artist cape, what else do you do for fun?
Chill man. I love to have a good time. I might just chill watch some movies with my girl, or watch some games with the boys, or go drink, play sports, I mean whatever. I'm just a regular dude that loves music and is pursuing that love.
State of hip hop: good or bad?
Good man. I hate people that complain non stop. I mean, yes there are major problems with hip hop, but lets not always be negative about shit. As much as I don't like the LP, Talib Kweli has sold over 100,000 units, that's wonderful.
There is a lot of garbage out there and the mainstream media shoves it down your throat and it can be blinding at times. But if you just look under the surface there is a lot of beautiful music being made. The current state of Hip Hop allows a lot of people to be extremely creative, break boundaries, and feed their families at the same time.
A perfect example is Little Brother. They are cats from North Carolina. Yes, backwoods country, making dope music and on a major label. If you think that's because hip hop is in a bad state then do you. But I look at it as a positive thing man. Lets just build on the positivity and see where the future goes.
As someone that puts together a mixcd, do you only pick songs you like or do you also put songs on there that you don't like, but know the are or will be big?
Naw man: if I don't like it, it's not going to be on my CD. After all it's my CD and it speaks on me as a DJ. If it's on my CD then I'm feeling it.
All these mixcds are a promotion tool, do you agree?
Absolutely. I spoke on it above where you asked me how much money the mixtape game has to offer.
Do you feel comfortable with the position of potentially making an artist?
Yeah man. I put their music on my CD because I like it. But at the end of the day I'm just a DJ that plays music. And it's up to the listener to make a decision about the artists he/she hears. If I help break some artists, then that means I did my job.
What do you want to achieve before you retire?
Wow, that is a crazy question, because I've never thought of retirement., I just started this shit (laughs). I mean I would like people to respect my name.
Ultimately I would love to have respect. Not just respect by fans, but by other artists. That's when you know your doing something right, when artists start to get at you and say "your shit is hot." I just want to be able to make a positive impact on this culture and have fun at the same time.
You must have a website, right? What is it?
Yeah man: got to be linked with the world. It's djabeats.com. That's the official spot. It's real simple right now, but I hope to have a full launch sometime soon. So go there to peep all the new releases.
Comments or shout outs?
Too many people to shout man, plus it always gets me in trouble because I forget people (laughs). But on the real, thanks to tadah and urban smarts for a dope interview. You guys flipped it because interviews can be monotonous. But you asked some different questions. Also shouts to all the supporters. If it wasn't for the people that support me I wouldn't be where I am today. So keep on supporting indie DJ's! Peace!
 
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