SATURDAY NIGHT IN THE LIFE OF AN OLD DJ

10:30pm

2 boxes and 1 bag fully loaded. Thought about taking Kwame and Bahamadia,but decided to leave em. Was gonna take the Donny Hathaway Live, but then remembered I had already packed the greatest hits LP, which has the live version of “The Ghetto” that I fucking love. Packing for two parties. Two crowds. limited space. Decisions decisions. Visible: Schooly D “Saturday Night” 12″. Vicki Sue Robinson. Maybe that’s in the wrong jacket.

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Car service arrives outside my building. I live in a converted loft building on Tillary and Flatbush. Downtown Brooklyn. No man’s land, really. Nestled between the police station, the firehouse, Fort Greene Projects, and the most fucked up deli on planet earth. Anne and I call it “the belligerent deli”, cuz there is always mad drama going on in there. Somebody fucked up somebody’s sandwich or some shit. Lots of yelling. Arab dudes fed up, not taking ANY shit.

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11:04pm

Touchdown at Frank’s Lounge.

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Tyrone and the Frank’s door crew looking sharp. It’s Tyrone and Terry’s birthday. The annual “Taurus Affair”. Love all of these guys.

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11:17pm

Set up my crates. Visible: De La Soul “All Good”. Take Six “Spread Love (bootleg remix)”. Kurtis Blow “The Breaks”. Mims “This Is Why I’m Hot”. Records below mine are Tyrone’s that stay in the club.

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First record: Herb Alpert “Rotation” from the Mastercuts Jazz/Funk series. In walks my man DJ Samir. We catch up over 2 Redstripes while classics are played and people filter in slowly.

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Samir says he hasn’t DJ’d in a few months. Got a government job at the VA Hospital now. Trying to put a party together with DJ Center. Tells me found a 12″ of Tom Browne “Thighs High” for $5 at A1. Damn. Tells me he first heard me playing at Don Hills in 1996. Long time ago. Still in my 20s. Damn.

I play more shit. Patrice Rushen “You Remind Me”. Kellee Patterson “Turn Out the Lights”. The Jacksons “Show Me The Way To Go”. Patti Austin. The older women get it.

11:50

Crowd starts moving. Mary J Blige “You Bring Me Joy” really gets them up. Musiq “For the Night” keeps the pace. Should play something recent but nah. Fuck it, Not feeling it. More R&B. Then “Gin and Juice”. Then “Bitch Please” bootleg w/Xibit (pictured here).

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My man Dom Nice shows up. We used to DJ together - doing house parties in Fort Greene/Bed Stuy around 1988-1992.

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One time we threw a “Free James Brown” party at a brownstone. Jimmmy Fingers, before he was known as Jimmy Fingers, arranged it at some other kids apartment. There was so many people jumping up and down on the third floor, the ceiling started to collapse. One of Jimmy’s roomates ran upstairs in hysterics, yelling that the walls were buckling, which they actually were. There was a big split down the ceiling of the 2nd floor. Plaster evereywhere. Whoa. Close call. I think it was during Todd Terry’s “Samba” (House of Gypises). Love that track. Break down the walls.

12:15AM

I’m sharing the turntables tonight with another Brooklyn cat, DJ infinite. Not solo like usual. Special occasion – “The Taurus Affair”. He takes over. I take a break and run upstairs to see DJ Disciple.

Disciple is already in his groove. Such a beautiful person. Always glowing. Disciple is a legend among house DJs in Brooklyn. Rep’d hard back in the early 90s. Went overseas a lot. Still does. Still beating it.

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The upstairs room is filling up. The great thing about Frank’s is you only need about 20 people dancing for it to feel like a party. Anything beyond that is just icing on the cake.

Amu in the house (bald head, arms in the air), feeling it. She tells me she’s too sweaty to hug me. Fuck that. I move in close. She’s the sexiest woman alive I swear to God.

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Back at the booth.Two legends discussing a third legend. Disciple and Strafe (yes, “Set it Off on the left, y’all” Strafe) pass around a book of get well wishes for Camacho. Everybody writes in it.

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Camacho is one of the original underground NY DJs to blow up. Laid the foundation overseas for cats bringing the raw NY sound to the masses. Diabetes is doing a number on him, but he’s fighting. Another soldier. Hanging on. I think about how he represented all of us back in the day. Putting in work, For real. Stay strong bro. We need heroes.

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Back downstairs. Cake frosting ceiling. My favorite thing about Frank’s. Digging this bartender. Seriously. Get another Red Stripe, get back on the decks, and keep it moving.

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Room is really moving now. Slick Rick ‘Mona Lisa”. Everybody sings the Dionne Warwick rif. “Walk on by-y-y”. Everybody knows it. Gotta come back strong. Something hot.

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1:45am

DJ Infinite doing his thing. Plays that Swizz Beats “chillin in my beamer, listening to ether” shit. OH MY GOD that beat is crazy. This girl in the green danced in that one spot the entire night. Beautiful. Knows her rockers and her soca. Her man is whatever. Not feeling him at all. I need another Red Stripe.

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I run through a bunch of reggae. Dom Nice gets on the mic and starts hyping the West Indians up. Funny how them Jamaicans turn on the accent when they get on the mic. Four Supercats. “Mud Up” into “Don Dadda” into “Nuff Man a Die” in to “Dem No Worry We”. Then Capleton “Number One Pon The Look Good Chart”. Somehow end up on “Chase Vampire”. Then “Kimbo King”. Always gets a reaction. Shabba Ranks “Wine Wine”. “Bonafide Love” – “you may not beeee…a movie sta-ar”. nNfinite played all the super-fast new stuff, so I can go strictly classics.

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2:20am

Records all over the place. Visible: Mega Banton “Sound Boy Killing” (the original on the One Drop riddim). Best of Reggae 2007 LP. Bunch of other dancehalll 12s. “Tell Me”, “Tingaling”, “Living Dangerously”.

I gotta bounce at 3:45 to make it to my next gig, Melting Pot. I run through as much reggae as I can. That’s kinda what I’m known for at Frank’s, and the crowd keeps asking when I’m gonna “RUN DE CHOON!” Break out the “Joyride” doubles. Drop the drumroll. Bass hits. BOOM. Crowd like “ooooohhhh”. Run through 16 bars of 7 songs. No more no less. I think I gotta change my needles. Pack up my shit with the quickness.

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3:44am

Out on Fulton street and hail the first car service I see. Hoping for a yellow but no luck. Egyptian dude. Rolls down his window
“Where you going?” he says.
Me: “Canal and Mott”
“How much you pay?”
yellow cab would’ve been $10 with tip.
“$12″ I tell him.
“No sir. Must charge you $20”.
FUCK. Got no choice. Got to get to Melting Pot by 4am. It’s 3:44. $20 it is. FUCK let’s go.

Zip past a deserted Junior’s Cheescake. Brooklyn landmark. Pride of the boro.

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Manhattan Bridge. Trying to take photos out the window without dropping my new camera. Driver getting pissed off cuz the camera flash keeps going off in his rear view. Leave me alone and just don’t wreck the car.
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4:05 am

Get to Melting Pot. Just made it. Room is packed. NYC underground veteran Loose is on the mic, bidding farewell to Nicky Siano who just finished. Damn I missed his whole set. I’m gonna say right here that I somehow don’t have ONE picture of Loose. It’s a fucking tragedy. Dude was always dancing with 3 chicks. Lucky bastard.

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Space looked great. Tons of balloons. Did Loft Kid Luis do them? Hmmm. I hear he’s out of town. Damn. Wanted to see him more than almost anyone. His mom took him to every Loft party since the early 70s. David Mancuso must be his Godfather or some shit.

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Kervyn Mark gets on, working Soul Ascendants “Tribute”. The turntables keep skipping. Not on rubber bands. Too many people dancing too close, shaking the ground.

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FUCK. With skipping turntables, I can’t play any of the vinyl I brought. Was gonna lead off with “Say No Go” just to catch people of guard. FUCK. What now? Gotta play CDs only. This messes up my whole vibe. Damn. Plus I have no idea what songs the other DJs have already played. FUCK.

Rhina makes me a Tequila on the rocks. No charge. Sweet. I hate Cuervo, but fuck it, I’m already 6 Red Stripes in and it’s after 4 so some moderation is in order.

I get on. First record: Fela “Opposite People” (a short-ish edit I did with the “Ebioso” drums). Crowd feeling it. I crank up the booth. People nearby cringe and give me a “seriously?” look. I’m fucking deaf.

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Anne, Andreas, and Ayo show up. She’s been dancing with a company in the south of France for 8 months. Can’t believe she made it!

Kerri Chandler “Rising the Sun” – another 10 minute edit. I pretty much have to play this just to feel comfortable. I drink a Red Bull. Run the 83 West vocals from“It’s The Spirit”. Bass down. Mid up. Can’t seem to lock the tempo. Fuck. Do two verses. Still have 4 minutes left. Eject. Put in Kem. Run Kem vocals on top. Herb Martin is right in front of me. Kamala and Kervyn to my left. Lil Ray comes up and demands “KILL IT JULIAN! DO IT!” Orders from the general. Can’t fuck up now. Pressure’s on. Lot of Shelter heads in the place. I give them my CDs all the time. Now I gotta deliver. And no vinyl. FUCK. There’s alwaysa curve ball. Nothing is ever easy. Not for DJs.

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DJ James Vincent in the house (below). A DJ who dances. Thank god. I tell him how excited I am about doing the Bedford Hill’s party next month. “Just Us” in to “Let Me Show The Way to Go”. Even Herb is dancing. That makes me feel good. Big ass ankh pendant swinging. Now what?

How deep can I go? “Little Boy Blue” - an album cut by Chaka Khan. FUCK IT. Jamie 326 and Richie Rich from Chicago turned me on to this. Changed my life in just that way a song can. Been listening to it for 2 months straight. Song starts. Floor stops dead in their tracks. FUCK I guess not everybody is feeling this. Actually almost nobody. DAMN. Then a guy runs up almost in tears he’s so happy, and bows to me gratefully. That made it all worth it. Some Shelter heads way in the back losing their mind. Reeling Lofting. OK. Don’t sweat it. Damn those strings sound nice. Phil D. in the house. Dude always has a record bag. ALWAYS. Wayne with the sound. My man. Gotta find another record.

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Play a couple more house tunes. Black Magic. Robert Owens. FUCK. Gotta do something original. Can’t just play safe. Robbi says the Black Magic record is the best song of the night. FUCK IT. Drop Jesto Funk. You know, the B-side mix with the crazy long sax intro. Floor stops and looks confused. Bass drops like a bomb. “Come With Me…..Tonight’s The Night”. One of my favorite early 90s jams. Grooving at about 108 bpm or something. Crowd digging it. What the fuck goes with this? Kim English “It Makes a Difference”. perfect. I actually wrote cue at 8:50 on the CD to skip the whole intro. Thank god I did that. Crowd really feeling it. Such a great song. Ray runs over “Now you GOT em!” Maybe I do. What next? Two Tons of Fun “Just us”. No doubt. I can run the intro drums over that acapella part at the end of Kim English. Works fucking perfect. “Just Us” BLARING. Women run up and bless me.

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5:15am

Look around the room. People giving me the “c’mon man, give us something!” look.

I transition back in to house. Boobjazz “Midnight Ceremony” seems about right. Red Bull has me wired. See Ken from Shelter. This guy wears a Superman shirt EVERY time he goes out. No exceptions. He’s also a photographer. Wonderful guy. He’s in my CD loop. Always have to hit him off. He tells me that Club Shelter just got closed by the cops. Some new Sergeant giving them grief. DAMN. I was gonna go there right after this. 8am is when it really gets jumping. I’m also on the guestlist at Pacha for some 24 hour S+M party. Fuck that.

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I run some more house. Cute girl in her 20s comes up and asks “who is this wonderful singer?” Kenny Latimore, baby. I play the long instrumental first, where it builds up from just the keys,. Then the vocal. Crowd jumping again. Live drums! Thank you Masters at Work. Kervyn tells me I’m done at 5:30. FUCK. Though I was playing til 7. Damn. Should I have played differently. Second guessing again.

I end with Mos Def “Umi Says”. Everybody sings “I want my people to be free to be free to be free”. And I’m done. Just like that. Seems like I barely played 15 records.

I get another Tequila and dance to that Jenifer Hudson song. “What about what I need”. Love it. Birthday cake for Loose. Lots of long hugs. Can’t BELIEVE I didn’t get a photo. FUCK. Kervyn plays some nice tunes. DJ Kamala gets on and plays The WhatnautsHelp Is On The Way”. Damn homegirl is cute.

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Kervyn plays “Endgames”. I do some sloppy Spanish Hustle with Anne. VERY sloppy. Legs tired from standing since 11pm. Crowd is thin now. Gracious thanks to my man Kervyn and his partner Kamala. Rhina. Maggie. Cute girl with the glasses at the door. Get my money and I’m out. Dude yells out of a parked car as I head for Canal “NICE SET!”

7:20am

Jump back in a cab. Back on the bridge. Sun coming up. Gloomy day.

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Heading to the crib with Anne and Sal Paradise for a smoke. Sal had also played at his regular gig in the village last night. Came straight to Melting Pot just to hang. I would have included his photo, but he looks like too much of a burnout in the photo and I’m a nice guy.

8am

Can’t sleep. 5am Red Bull was a bad choice LOL. Guess I’ll post this on the blog. Until next time…


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