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DJ Doo Wop proves that you can have longevity in Hip-Hop

DJ Doo Wop has been holding it down for more than 20 plus years in the mixtape game. In celebration of the huge milestone, Doo Wop held a huge concert last week that featured performances by The Lox, AZ, Smif-N-Wessun, Royal Flush, Mic Geronimo and many others.

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Doo Wop is more than just a mixtapes, he’s a respectable artist on the mic, a beatsmith and a club DJ that travels across the world. The man has a resume that would put other DJ’s to shame. He’s credited for giving birth to the format of mixtapes that you hear nowadays.

We had a chance to catch up with DJ Doo Wop and find out his thoughts on the major accomplishment of 20 years in the mixtape game, DJ’ing across the world and today’s Hip-Hop.

You celebrated your 20th anniversary in the mixtape game last week with a huge concert here in NYC at Stage 48, Congratulations! How do you feel about the accomplishment?

Great, but it’s funny because a lot of people who follow my mixtapes know that it’s more than 20 plus years, I really came out in 1990, but the thing we were celebrating was my big break in 1993, when I really started messing with the big leagues, and the industry started knowing who DJ Doo Wop was. The first few years was just the grind and trying to get the name out there, so thats why we did the 20 years. I just wanted to clear that up real quick, but it’s ill because it’s not easy to be in this game. Someone told me the other day, there’s rappers that don’t even last 8 months in the game, I didn’t really see it like that, but it’s very true. I’ve seen cats come and go, not that am saying am still poppin like it was 1995 or whatever, but am still DJing, this is still my lively hood, and am able to tour around the country doing what I started doing 20 plus years ago.

You were one of the DJ’s that birthed the format of mixtapes. How would compare the mixtapes of the 90’s to the mixtapes of nowadays?

Totally opposite. It’s more like we were a brand back in the days. You didn’t need a tracklist because you knew you was purchasing the DJ. Everybody had their own niche, I was one of the few DJ’s that rhymed at the beginning of a tape. I had guest rappers on the tape. SNS was the dude that would break new records, as Clue did a few years later, so it was a brand that you was really buying. Now, they don’t even want to hear the DJ talking. They used to like the DJ shouting over records, but now it’s gotten so overstated that it annoys the people. The listener nowadays just wants a nice cover with the tracklist and they don’t really dont care about DJ, back then they were buying us.

You’ve worked with a list of respectable rappers throughout your career. Who were some of the artist that you had a close relationship with? And the easiest to work with?

It started in 95, as far as my relationship with these rap artist. When I came up with the concept of doing 95 Live, back then, no one had major artist on their mixtapes, but I took a shot. I got a hold of Fat Joe, who was a friend of mine since 93, and I told him about my idea, and if he would be down, so he put me in contact with Raekwon and I was kind of nervous because I didn’t think these cats would know me like that, so I hit up Rae, and at this time Only Built For Cuban Linx had dropped, so when I got in touch with him he was like “Hell yeah I’ll come through,” and when he said that it gave me this boast of confidence to then try to get in touch with these other rappers and make this tape happen, so it started with Fat Joe and Raekwon and then on the same tape, I ended up getting Q-Tip, Keith Murray, M.O.P., Guru, even Ill Al Skratch, so since that time on I started becoming cool with all these artist. But if I can mention two rappers that have always been very genuine and humble with me I would say Raekwon and the late Guru.

You’ve worked on several mixtapes, but which one did you have the most fun working on?

It had to be this joint called Gangsta’s Paradise that I did in 2001. At that time I was signed to Universal Records as an artist. I was going to make a record with me rhyming alongside other artist. While I was supposed to be recording that album, Universal was having problems internally, so I knew my album might not see a release because the guy that signed me to Universal was about to leave the company. Then they started telling me that they wanted my album to be like a DJ Clue type of album and I wasn’t with that. I decided to ride out with the situation and I started recording new shit on their time, so I would call a whole bunch of artist to come by the studio and record. In one session I had Big Daddy Kane, Lord Tariq, Nature, Fat Joe, Remy Ma and Prodigy, that night was phenomenal! We were there from 2PM till like 5 in the morning, just vibing. Prodigy was the last one to record that night, and that’s when he did that verse that sparked Jay-Z’s “Takeover.” When I put that tape out, Roc-A-Fella called me and said “You got the new tape with prodigy right?” I was laughing because I knew what they were talking about. They asked me if I could send the tape since The Roc’s management and Memphis Bleek were talking about it, so I seen it bubbling before it even hit the streets.

You’ve DJ’ed all across the world, what would you say is the best spot to DJ at and why?

Everybody has to hit Japan at least once! I’ve been there four times. Japan is ill because of the language barrier it’s something that is challenging. If your a DJ and your on a Japan run, your definitely going to hit Club Harlem, it’s one of the staples out there. It’s so ill because you could play Jeru The Damaja, you can play Wu-Tang, you can play whatever, and once you drop that record your going to hear the words from the crowd, and if you close your eyes you really feel like your back home. It’s a bugged out feeling because you can’t even converse with the people out there, but they know all the words to our music. They love the Hip-Hop culture out there, from the sneaker shops to the record shops to the way people dress.

What do you feel is missing in todays Hip-Hop?

Balance, would be the correct word to explain it because there was a time in Hip-Hop that you were able to hear some gangsta shit you put on N.W.A. and at the same time you wanted to hear some friendly type of rap you would put on that De La Soul or ATCQ type of vibe. You were able to hear Fresh Prince and then hear Big Daddy Kane or Rakim. All that music would be on the radio at the same time, that’s the difference I see now. They don’t give anything else a shot, except for whatever is supposedly hot in the clubs at the moment. I love the trap music, I love Rick Ross, so when I talk, I don’t talk as the old school bitter guy. When I do clubs, I give the people what they want, if I go to a club and it’s 18 and over, I know what I got to play. Am not going to beat them in the head with the old school shit, am not there to teach them a lesson about Hip-Hop. You were to have a variety of Hip-Hop back then, Now your kind of forced to listen to what the radio wants you to hear. That’s the only thing I have a problem with Hip-Hop right now.

Roger Krastz @walldoe

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