The legendery Hijack producer and DJ talks about getting into hiphop, his music releases, a forthcoming film, how the scene compares to back in the day, the state of the culture and more.
Could you introduce yourself to our readers?
DJ Supreme, UK. Founder member, scratch DJ and producer for Hijack , 1986-1992.
What was your first experience of hip-hop and how did you come to be creating it yourself?
I got into hiphop in 83 when the Buffalo Gals video and Bambata's Planet Rock hit London. I got hooked from then and emerged myself in the culture. Popping, breakin' and graffiti first. I discovered DJing a couple of years later in 85. At that time I had no idea I'd be making records one day. That came unexpectedly. The ultimate goal for me was having street cred or hip hop fame, not only in my neighbourhood but around the world! I wanted to be in the hip hop history book next to Flash, Theodore, Chuck Chill Out, Whizz Kid, Jazzy Jay, Africa Islam, DST, Cash Money, Jazzy Jeff, Cheese, Mixmaster Ice, Q-Bert, D-styles etc etc. Shortly after starting my crew, The Turntable Trixters, in 87, we got a recording contract with Music of Life records, and started creating our own material as Hijack.
Give us a run through of what you feel are the most significant releases you've been a part of throughout your career.
Personally, everything I've done from Hijack to ripped off beats and stolen scratches. The Brother record, as well as the releases with Icepick, and up to the hiphop CD I put out last year. Everything I do, I do with 110% effort so it's all significant to me.
Do you have one particular record or moment which you favour above the others?
I would say Hold No Hostage/Doomsday Of Rap. That was my first try at producing. But so is Hijack the Terrorist group. But I also favour Phantom Of The Opera, Airwave, I had To Serve You, Badman. Man…I love that whole album, and the phenomenal Criminal 12" with Icepick is also a favourite.
How do you think the hip-hop climate of the eighties compares with what you experience of the culture these days?
The main difference is how huge it has become. It's mainstream now and it has flourished to become the dominant music genre on the planet. But, if you talk about the culture, meaning all elements i.e. mcing, djing, breakin, grafitti, then this has been forgotten by the mainstream, and forgotten by many of today's hip hop headz. The previous hip hop generations loved hip hop in all its different guises and phases i.e. old school/new school/native tongues/gangsta rap/east coast/west coast/dirty south etc. Another difference is that people don't get involved like they use to. Back in the day everyone you knew in hip hop was either a DJ, MC, into graffiti, breakin, a producer, promoter, selling urban wear… and doing it for the love too. These days people don't get invovled unless they see something in it for them, like a record deal. But that's cool though. Hip hop continues to evolve and no one can stop evolution – all you can do is contribute and try and leave something behind for others to build on.
What producers and artists are you rating and what's the hottest record you've picked up recently?
Lyrically – Nas, Mos Def, Talib, Fat Joe, Kanye West, Dead Pres, Mobb Deep, MOP. Musically – Dre, Storch, Oh No, Jay Dee, Kev Brown, Peter Rock, Premo. Fav record right now is Move Pt II by OhNo feat. Talib Kweli.
What hip-hop personalities do you think are giving the most positive contributions to the scene right now?
Hmm, positive rap? To me all rap is positive depending on how you look at it. For example 'gangsta rap' (g-unit, mop, mobb deep), although looked upon as glorifying violence, has substance to what is said as it actually represents one reality in a multi faceted society. On the other hand you have Native Tounge/Urban Poets (Common, Talib, Dilated, Mos Def, De La) that represent the struggle or uplifting of the community. So, to me it's all positive as it creates a balanced picture. A ying and yang thing. Unfortunately today, we have an imbalance in the scene and the more destructive side is over exposed and dominant. This fact has nothing to do with the artists/music but more with the record labels and industry moguls that decide where to invest time and money. All the groups I mention, I like equally. Sometimes I want to be mentally lifted and other times I like to get gutter.
Could you tell us about the Turntable Trixters film and when it's coming out?
The Turntable Trixters film is coming out in August 2005. It's something I wanted to do for a long time, but I never had the time or the right people to work with. I thought it would be cool to tell the story of how everything got started and the kind of impact we had on the scene. I really wanted to make this film as a gift to all the people that still show me and the group much love to this very day. It's also a way to answer a lot of questions people have like: Who's who on the LP cover? How did you do the scratches? Did you really have a fight with EPMD? Why did you really break up? and Will there be a re-union? Hopefully the film will answer all those questions and more, and also give them some inside knowledge on what Hijack was really all about.
How interested and involved are you in film production? Do you think more projects will follow?
Except for my own project, I'm not that much involved with films. However, the idea of scoring a film one day would be a real exciting project for me and it's something I've always been interested in. In fact, I've just been invited to do music for a grafitti film to be released on DVD in Germany, so lets see how things progress from there.
What hiphop documentaries of past and present would you recommend people check out?
Looking For The Perfect Beat (not sure of the title) by the BBC. Wildstyle, Style Wars, Beat Street, Freshest Kids, Men And Their Music (coming soon at nu-skratch.com)
Are you still in touch with Ice T and do you think you'll ever work with him again at some point?
I recently got back in touch with Ice. He's in The Trixters film. We've already talked about doing some tracks together, but its all a question of time.
What can fans expect from the Whodini tour which you'll be a part of this summer?
Arghhh. The tour would have been dope but it got cancelled at the last minute. I spent the free time relaxing instead.
What's the all time greatest live hiphop show you've been to?
Damn…Maybe when I saw Kool Keith (Ultras) live at Brixton Fridge. They pushed him on stage on a trolley, in a strait jacket and mask like Hannibal Lector as his intro to Papa Large! I went bananas….that was crazy!
Have you got any words of advice for anyone out there dreaming of becoming a DJ?
Simple. Be original. I know everyone says that. But we say it because its true. Originality is where greatness hangs out!
What were the first decks you used and does it matter if a kid can only afford belt drivens. Can he still make it big?
I started out on belt drive turntables and I still managed to achieve something so, if you're determined enough, the simplest set-up will help along the road. If you want to get serious about it then get some practice on some pro gear. If not your own, someone elses!
What's your opinion of the huge market of DJ mixtapes at the moment and do you find people with the wrong impression of what a DJ actually is?
I guess you mean DJ mixtapes that don't have mixes on but just tracks and a lot of shouting? Those are cool for what they are and I think people know what they are paying for when they buy em. I mean, if you're buying something by Big Mike, or Track Masters you know there's no mixing, but if you pick up something from Tony Touch or Spinbad you know its going to be cut the fuck up, you get me? Today we have the 'party dj' and the 'dj'.
Do you respect groups like Ugly Ducking and Dilated Peoples who make a point of having their DJ as an important part of their set up, rather than for show?
Yeah. This is definitely good. Keeping the hip hop elements in balance is always good.
Do you wanna make any shout out's or promotional plugs to wrap this up on?
Not really. Just drop by my site www.djsupreme.com for more info, and give me a shout on my guest book.