Interview: DJ Craze - Still Def
DJ CRAZE interviewed for Hiphop.sh // Street Press Australia.
Interview @ 16.30 AEST - 19th January, 2010
Last September the hip hop world lost a legend in Grandmaster Roc Raida, one of this generation’s most consummate turntablists. His death struck a resonating chord throughout the fraternity. Among the heralded legends assembled for his tribute was DJ Craze, an untouchable DMC Champ even in this company. He felt a real loss without his mentor and leader of the world famous X-Ecutioners. The Floridian DJ readies himself to fill that void before the culture inherited by our next class on the wheels of steel loses it’s history. On another extending tour our way, DJ Craze drops in with Hiphop.sh before the Good Vibrations festivals of 2010.
Crazearoni what up man, hows your day been? Where are you calling from now?
I’m in Miami right now, I’m at home.
You came down to Australia in 2008, how was that and what do you look to in coming back?
Yeah in 2008, (actually 2007) I went there, for I think the Parklife Tour, it was amazing. Some of it I blanked out for, I don’t remember but from what I do remember, it was awesome! I was on tour with Lyrics Born, MIA, Scratch Perverts, Stereo MCs - a whole bunch of people, it was dope.
Do you all bounce creative energy off each other, pick up new acquaintances?
Oh yeah, I’ve always been soaking it in. With Justice and MIA, they’re the people I look up to for creative inspiration. Oh yeah I feed off of everybody.
You went through Asia recently, how is the international crowd response? I guess language never needs to be an issue?
Yeah the crowd responses are always great. Like, every city in the world has a different reaction to certain things. Like the big things always get a feigned reaction, but its cool to see nowadays the kids on the internet rocking out to different kinda styles, youkna’imsayin. So it’s always good.
You’re billed on the Good Vibrations tour coming up, how does a festival or outdoor audience differ to a club stage?
I find that festivals are way more fun to do, because there’s so many people. Like, when you’re doing little clubs is nerve racking. You’ve really gotta make this hundred people go off and that could be hard to pull off. But like with a 1,000 people, you gonna catch a 100 people that are gonna be on your side, youkna’imean. The odds are good and the hater-ation ain’t as high at a festival. Everybody wants to have a good time. In a club, you know a few people can throw a vibe off for everyone. Festivals are way better than the clubs, you can be a lot louder!
You worked with Kanye West’s Glow in the Dark tour, how was life on the road with Kanye? Nas too?
Yeah it was Nas, Kanye, Scribe, Kid Cudi and before Cudi really got large. For me it was amazing being on the road with him, seeing this huge production monster he takes to every show. For me it was like a little vacation, travelling with the guys and the band. The band and other people that I’ve met on the tour were amazing. So it was cool hanging with them and catching all the vibes. And seeing how Kanye was, that was like amazing, it was inspirational because, homeboy is the biggest workaholic I’ve ever seen in my life! He puts so much work into what he does. I wouldn’t do it again, but it was amazing.
Is it too much work to be on the tour, or not enough?
It was not enough. When A-Track was his DJ he was a big part of the show. When I came on he was like really rushing for the deadline to start the tour, so I really didn’t get much shine-time or really anything in the show. Like, a lot of it was all programmed and I would go in and just cue them up. But if i’d have had more input and more shine-time then I would probably do it again. So that was the part for me, I didn’t get enough work.
In your own shows, do you freestyle on stage or is it pretty tightly programmed?
I like to pre-plan a lot of things but I don’t like to pre-plan a set. Like, I know what track would go well with what track, but depending on what kinda vibe the club has. If I’m struggling I’ve got the go-to things, the sure-fires to get them all going again. But uh, that’s about the extent of the planning, because you never know what could go down that night.
We’ve come a log way since Grand Wizzard Theodore started the scratch. How is the legacy you leave behind you as younger DMC champs step up?
I think it’s always good to do some research, I think it’s always good to know your past. So you all know how it started and how you got here. I’m always looking into the future, whether it be with technology or the way the music genres keep changing. As a DJ is a must to know where it came from. Who started what, just so you know and you can do research and have those styles in you. You can take them and make something from them in the future. I don’t really stress that much on the past, I’m more of a future kinda dude.
Speaking of the future, what do you think of the Auto-Tune craze that spread last year?
I think it’s cool! A lot of dudes came through, it was a part of that time. It had to happen at that time so we can move on to something else. Like nobody was really messing with the Auto-Tune thing until T-Pain came out and he made it huge. It was all for good fun until… It didn’t become wack until it was motherfucker jumped on it. Like Jay-Z said, as soon as he heard it on a Wendy’s commercial, he said that’s enough. Exactly, its like with everything. You get onto something good then everybody wants to do it then it kinda like fades away then something else comes along. But you know, it’s an amazing tool (from a technology point of view) Kanye made a whole album from that, it was huge.
On Twitter you mentioned a need to wear ear plugs? Has all the full volume put a hurtin’ on your eardrums?
Man that’s the ONLY thing on my mind right now. I know last night I have that ringing that comes and goes. I remember I went to the audiology clinic in Miami and she told me, ’ look your right ear is in the red zone. There’s nothing you can do about it except take care of it. Like, always wear your ear plugs in the clubs, stay away from the bass.’ She’s telling me stuff like that. And my dumb-ass being drunk in a club, I always take ‘em out. I’m like, ‘Nah fuck that I wanna feel this shit!’ Last week I came home from a gig and my ear was hurtin’. Not ringing but hurting. The next day when I woke up I had that ringing and it stuck with me and it never went back to normal. I’m in the studio right now and I gotta take a break every thirty minutes for the ringing. So now I’m really worried. I’m gonna get it checked out tomorrow. But, it’s my fault, like I haven’t been taking care of it. Years of doing clubs like Fabric and standing right next to the bass, I loove bass.
Good thing you’re in Miami then.
Yeah, exactly. So now I’m aware of this and I’m starting to take measures…I’ve gotta take care of myself.
So if you could take it back, would you turn down the bass, look after your ears or never regret?
Definitely I would rock them everyday. I’m rocking them now as I’m just chilling. I don’t wanna like mess anything up. But you know, it’s like I know in years to come I might have complications due to smoking, I’m not gonna learn my lesson, I’m one of those guys. If I could go back and change things I would, but I can’t, so it’s cool I’m livin’ my life.
We lost a legend in Grandmaster Roc Raida late last year. Losing a hero of yours, do you feel like it’s the end of an era and you’ve gotta carry on the legacy for the new school now?
That’s a good question, because being at the tribute made me really sad because that was the end of an era. Not just of his passing, that was an end to the old school turntablism. If it wasn’t for Raida we wouldn’t have developed the turntables in the way we have. I was sad because it took losing someone like him to get everybody together in one room. I’m said because I don’t feel that turntablism will ever feel the same again. With the passing of Raida, as hard as it is to fill that void, I wanna get to the top. I wanna rep turntablism. I’ve taken it to the top and I still cut it up. But being there in the moment, It made me think ‘hold on, i’m a bad motherfucker on the decks.’ And I don’t really show it off like I used to, but being there and feeling that vibe, I wanna show people that I’m still doing it and I can fuck people up and it was because of him youkna’imean. And this is how I can pass the torch for the next generation to show ‘em how we did it back then.”
Music is so much more accessible now, is this a little like a baseball league full of juiced athletes for a DJ of your calibre?
It is kinda unfair for people like people who go on Youtube and watch clips whereas I used to go the clubs and watch it live. But now it will be the next kinda DJ that will take that and make it something else, youkna’imsayin? Like that’s one thing to have everything accessible to you, but show me what you can do with it. A big part of our time I picking out the record, but if you’ve got the record online, cool go making something of it. So it’s what they do with it that matters.
Slow Roast coming out this year, what’s the latest on that?
Yes, Slow Roast is gonna come out this year on Fool’s Gold Records. I’ve got big things planned for this year! Big fan of what’s coming out from this, co-founders me and Copenhagen I can’t wait for him to put out his album and I can’t wait for my music to come out. I think it’s gonna be a good year for Slow Roast.