25th Anniv. Moment: Jam Master Jay – June, 2000 [Interview]
King of Rap: Run-DMC’s Jam Master Jay Surprised DJ Times With His Visit to DJ Expo West. So, As Longtime Fans, We Decided to Stalk Him. It Went Like This…
Originally published: June 2000
It’s a Friday afternoon in the college town of Athens, Ga., during the early summer of 1985. Blazing day, classes are over, time for an early start at one of those happy hours that doesn’t draw too many fratboys. The choice is Foxz’s in Normaltown, next to Allen’s, the wonderful bar-and-grill later namechecked by The B-52’s in their hometown paean, “Deadbeat Club.”
Peterbilt and Kenworth cabs line the Foxz’s parking lot, give or take a few pickups. Step inside and it’s strictly rednecks, white socks and Blue Ribbon beer – but no evil fratboys. From the bar’s tinny speakers, country crooner John Anderson eases through “Red Georgia Clay,” which gleefully details a double-murder, as my buddy Bret orders up the first round. Of course, I instinctively scope the 45-loaded jukebox – remember those? – and dump a buck in for three plays.
Let’s see: Hank, Jr.’s “Whiskey Bent & Hell Bound,” Skynyrd’s “Gimme Three Steps” and – hey, what’s this? Oh, cool. Run-DMC’s “King of Rock,” my new favorite song. “Perfect,” I thought. “That oughta liven up the joint.” Little did I know how much. After Li’l Bocephus finished extolling the spiritual merits of Jim Beam, on it came.
“I’m the king of rock!
There is none higher!
Sucker MCs all call me sire!”
Before the metallic guitar riffs and crunching breakbeats sink in, before the second verse even hits, an objection becomes registered from a scroungy redhead at the bar. He stands up and angrily announces, “I’m gonna shoot that jukebox!” Then looking in our direction, “And I’m gonna shoot whoever put on that song!”
Now I’d been around these people all my life, and didn’t think much of it. “Hell, Run-DMC rocks harder than the Atlanta Rhythm Section,” I thought. “He might even end up liking this.” But as I looked at him more closely and saw him actually get up and head for the parking lot, it became time to reconsider things, namely, my continued existence. I quickly thought up a new rule to live by: When a grimy guy with prison tattoos, smoking filterless Camels, and twitching like he’s just inhaled a Big Gulp of bathtub speed announces that he’s fetching weaponry, discretion becomes the better part of valor.
So before my Lynyrd Skynyrd song came on – certainly before the real .45 King returned – Bret and I heeded Ronnie Van Zant’s advice, and “headed out for the door.” As we screeched his AMC “wonderwagon” onto Prince Avenue, I looked at Bret and asked in all sincerity, “Can you believe I almost got my ass shot off over a Run-DMC song?”
Move forward 15 years and I’m at a trade show – our own DJ Expo West in San Francisco – and I’m chasing Run-DMC’s DJ Jam Master Jay all over the hotel like an unrepentant stalker. We gotta set up with website interview. We gotta sit down and actually do the thing. We gotta get him confirmed for the “Meet the DJs” panel. We gotta hook up the magazine interview when we get back to New York. Instead of a fan, I’m now a prescription suppository.
I feel bad because, as a surprise guest at the Expo, Jay’s getting mobbed at every turn. Indeed, when the exhibit floor opens, he’s posing for pictures, signing Expo program guides, offering advice, really feeling the love of DJs who respect him. For example, when ITF battle champ and DJ Times cover boy Vinroc takes his seat on the “Meet the DJs” panel, the usually well-spoken Vin looks at Jay and stammers, “I’m trippin’, man. I can’t believe I’m sitting here next to him.”
Me, neither. I’ve moderated DJ seminar panels from here to Buckhead and back, had people I love and respect tell their stories, but Jam Master Jay is the only one who ever zapped me with a little star power. Why? The reason is simple. Along with MC cohorts Joseph Simmons (Run) and Darryl McDaniels (DMC), Jam Master Jay helped alter the way you and I listen to music.
As hip-hop pioneers, Run-DMC broke down musical and cultural barriers nationwide. I’ll never forget the first time I heard “It’s Like That” in 1984 on WOKS, a Columbus, Ga., “soul” station. Hearing those distinctive voices chant and chime over those boombastic beats, it was as exhilarating as discovering the Sex Pistols. Those first three singles – “It’s Like That” b/w “Sucker MCs,” “Hard Times” b/w “Jam Master Jay,” and “Rock Box” – left indelible marks and the group’s first two Profile albums, 1984’s Run-DMC and 1985’s King of Rock, were brothers from another planet.
And while playing Run-DMC on a redneck bar’s jukebox isn’t exactly crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge, looking back I still view the experience as somewhat indicative of the time, considering that not even African-American culture had fully accepted hip hop yet. Crazy as it sounds now in an age when DMX and Nas can move a quarter-million units in a week, in the early to mid-1980s there was a certain resistance from urban radio to fully embrace the new style. Run-DMC helped change that.
They hit the road with a show that was as in-your-face as Metallica, as uplifting as Al Green. Outfitted in their black-hats-black-jeans-&-Adidas uniforms, Run and D played the crowd, while Jam Master Jay toasted, scratched and kept the beat flowin’. It was bold and ballsy, but mostly it was new – the sound, the look, the attitude. They bumrushed MTV with the original rap-metal anthems “Rock Box” and “King of Rock” – and then it all broke loose with 1986’s genre crossover Raisin’ Hell. With a little help from Aerosmith, “Walk This Way” opened the next legion of suburban ears and hip hop has never been the same.
Run-DMC’s career has taken some turns since then. As detailed in a VH-1Behind the Music segment, Run endured a legal harangue and later became a Christian minister. DMC kicked an alcohol problem, became disinterested in the current rap scene and continues to struggle with vocal problems. On consecutive Christmas holidays, Jay was involved in a car crash and then suffered a gunshot wound to the leg. Not exactly Motley Crue territory, but Run-DMC’s career story certainly carries the requisite drama, which is plenty.
Through it all, Run-DMC continued to play hundreds of shows each year. In 1998, that dedication paid off further when New York-based remixer Jason Nevins put a house beat under “It’s Like That” and the track became a worldwide smash – save America, which for the most part still doesn’t get house music. Twelve-grand gigs went to 20, 50K festivals turned into 70 large. Coupled with the recent rap-metal breakouts from Kid Rock and Limp Bizkit, Run-DMC’s sound was back on the pop radar screen – at least enough for Arista’s Clive Davis to take a chance. And if he can blow up a long-hitless act like Santana, who knows what he can do for the pioneers of a genre that’s become America’s greatest musical export?
When it’s sorted out, Crown Royal will be the result. According to Jam Master Jay, its recording was difficult, given that DMC’s only vocal contributions are looped up samples from previously recorded material. At times, Run does rip it and the album’s guest list (Nas, ODB, Sugar Ray, Everlast, Kid Rock, Fat Joe, and Limp Bizkit’s Fred Durst) should attract a broad appeal. Tough to fully judge from the very uneven eight-song sampler I got (no Everlast or Kid Rock), but Crown Royal does offer at least one potential hit, a Beastie-like joint with Durst called “Them Girls.” Alas, at presstime, the final mix for its release remained under debate.
After DJ Expo West – where Jam Master Jay pushed his new referral service/website venture NationwideDJ – we did re-connect with the 35-year-old native of Hollis, Queens.
We discussed Run-DMC’s old days and the old school, the new technology and Crown Royal, Kid Rock and the “new” rap-metal. And when it was over, I gurgled like a star-struck fan. Pathetic, I know, but at least I was no longer a clingon.
DJ Times: What inspired you to be a DJ?
Jam Master Jay: I just wanted to be a part of the band. Actually, that’s what inspired me. I was a drummer and I played the guitar. At the time, that was the hottest thing to do. We were doing stuff by Slave, A Taste of Honey, songs like that. Then I just moved into being a DJ when that turned into the hottest thing.
DJ Times: What were the DJs in your neighborhood doing that interested you?
Jay: We would have block parties. I was so young that they were the only way that I could go and have a good time. The DJ was just in between the bands in the beginning. The band would come on and everyone would run to the stage and then the band would stop and the DJ would just play music, you know, in a close-and-play situation. Later on, to me, after the band stopped the DJ would get a little more live. The records he would play would get a little better. And instead of closing and stopping, he would blend the records and keep it going. And he’d start talking on the mic, asking the people to come party with him. After a minute, the band faded out and it was totally the DJ and just the DJ as the main attraction.
DJ Times: Does anyone in particular come to mind?
Jay: I could say Davey D, Kurtis Blow’s DJ. He was the one in the neighborhood doing his thing. But really it was just overall being a part of the music that was firing me up more than one particular individual – I heard tapes more than anything. It was the overall vibe of the music, of the DJ setting up the speakers, of the actual bringing the equipment out, being a part of the party, being the band. That was more of what inspired me.
DJ Times: Do you remember your first DJ gear?
Jay: The first thing that was my own was my mom and pop’s turntable with the phono and the tuner button on it. I’d go back and forth from phono to tuner. I definitely entertained on that before and that was the same thing that I used to make my pause tapes on. My dad saw me doing that and he allowed me to get a turntable – an SL-10, I think it was. My partner had a little Gemini mixer. Then we used to DJ on these other guys’ equipment, who had better gear than us. That was actually in the parks. He had the big Gemini mixer with the equalizer on it and he had two belt-drive SLs.
DJ Times: How long did it take you to get the skills
to play in front of people?
Jay: I was better than the DJ who had the equipment from the first day. I actually came out of my house better than the people who were actually doing it – not better than Davey D, but I was better than the people around me. If I started at 13, by the time I was 14 I was already good enough to play in front of people. I started off playing drums when I was 5, so playing in front of people didn’t matter – not a problem.
DJ Times: When you started out DJing, where were you playing?
Jay: Busting the lamp posts open and playing in the parks. Then I got a gig with an older friend who had the equipment and he played in this bar. They would bring me in the bar through the backdoor and I would DJ in the back room most of the night. Then they’d take me out the backdoor, so I was never really in the bar. That was really my main gig. The bar is a church now.
DJ Times: You promoted your own parties, too.
Jay: I had a party at this club called Dorian’s when I was 16. I used to promote with my friends from the neighborhood. We wanted to throw parties for people my age – the other gig was for older folks. So we threw one party that was so successful that the guy who owned the bar said I could throw a party every week. So me and some friends would charge the girls a dollar and the guys three dollars. The biggest party I had was the night Run and D went to the studio and made “It’s Like That.” I wasn’t there. They didn’t know that they had to go to the studio that day. Run was already telling me that we were a group and I was like, “Whatever.” So on the big day of my party, I wasn’t letting anybody rhyme because Run and D were the only ones from the neighborhood I would let rhyme. But I was the type of DJ who would let you rhyme at the right time, but overall I’m here to rock the crowd. I’ll let particular rappers infect the crowd and let the party jump.
DJ Times: But Russell [Simmons] kept Run and D in the studio that night, right?
Jay: Yeah, it was an all-night thing for both of us. So the next morning we talked and I’m mad at them. But then they played the record for me and I was like, “O.K.” I mean, I think they did the right thing [laughs].
DJ Times: What’s your stage-show set-up?
Jay: I use the Technics 1200s and have been for a long time. But I’ve been working on those Vestax [PDX-a2S] turntables, the ones with the two stops on each side. You can stop the record from both sides. Since I left the DJ Expo in ’Frisco I’ve been messing with those new Vestax. I tried them out and liked them. When I got home, I got a couple. And I’m working with them tonight for the first time. For what I do in the show, I always have to chase that stop button. That part is eliminated with these. They’re really sturdy. They’re perfect for me.
DJ Times: And your mixer?
Jay: I’ve been messing with those Vestax 05-Pros or the 07. I like them both, but the 07 is better with the crossfade, the couple of reverse functions and the three-band equalizer for certain parts of the show. I don’t go through a tricks stage, besides a little backspinning and scratching our names. I backspin my name, but I’m not a trickster DJ.
DJ Times: I noticed you checking out the CD players at the DJ Expo.
Jay: I think they’re hot. I definitely want one in my studio. I like the way you can speed a record up and keep the same tone. I saw what the guy was doing at the Pioneer booth and that was incredible.
DJ Times: What do you think about CD DJs?
Jay: I was overseas and I had some DJ gigs that popped up on me in the middle of a tour. And I didn’t have all the new jams because I was out. So this DJ who was out there with CDs, so I think I played three or four joints off the CD in the middle of my DJ set. Actually, that’s the day that I found the respect for the CD DJs because when I came to the party – it was in Frankfurt, Germany – I was just in another room and I couldn’t see the DJ. People were dancing. I could see that the dancefloor was rocking in each room. I’m hearing some scratching going on – chuk-chukka-check-this-out, one-two-tukka-three-tukka hit it! Then another song would come on and I was thinking, “Damn! This muthafucka’s getting busy! He must have three turntables.” But he had two CD players and one turntable and he was doing a little scratching on the turntable and he was letting the CDs keep rocking. I mean, I went up to DJ booth with my records and he had one little suitcase he was using all night. He had a million CDs…
DJ Times: And no chiropractor bill.
Jay: [Laughs] Right! I was like, “Yo! Much respect for that shit.” Then there was a couple songs I didn’t have and my partner was like, “He’s got it.” And I said, “I don’t know how to use this CD shit, you know what I’m saying?” But it was simple [laughs]. I just needed to get my little pitch together, stop the record and pop some shit. Get the crowd happy and press play. And then mix the other record into it. I just stayed in the mix with the CD. With this CD technology, you can just remix a record right there on the spot.
DJ Times: How would you compare today’s DJ industry to when you were coming up.
Jay: The technology is just so far gone. It’s just like back in the day you needed a suitcase just to have a cell phone. The battery was so heavy, it was like carrying a gallon of soda around with you all day [laughs]. Back then, I was breaking mixers. I would have to use the GLIs because they were sturdy. But they weren’t really made for DJs like me. The crossfader was so wide that it was definitely slowing you down. But for sound purposes, I stuck with the GLIs. And turntables, you can’t even compare. Back then, to get Technics 1200s, you had to be rich or work at a radio station [laughs].
DJ Times: Do you remember when you got your first 1200 decks?
Jay: When I got my first 1200s, man, I was the best muthafucka in the world after that [laughs]. I just got so good. Waking up in your drawers is really a whole lot more fun. Going to your set with the headphones on in the middle of the night so that your parents don’t know what you’re doing when you’re supposed to be asleep is great. I was rocking the bedroom. That was so much more fun when I got the 1200s. It was like, “Eeee-yah!” I got faster, stronger! But today kids are starting with 1200s or better starter turntables. Also, the technology with the mixers is so incredible. The way they got the crossfader now is like all you have to do is touch it one notch and it’s fully on.
DJ Times: Why do think so many kids want to be DJs now?
Jay: I just think that what happened with me is happening with other people. I wanted to be a drummer because that was the shit to do. Now when you see every band – from Limp Bizkit to Kid Rock to N’ Sync – they all have a DJ. Bands have DJs now.
DJ Times: Chris Rock has Grandmaster Flash on HBO.
Jay: That’s right, Chris Rock. Television shows have DJs. I remember when I was coming up, the music stores where you could get guitar strings was where I got my records from. Now the place where you get your records from is where you can get your DJ mats and your mixers. You can’t find your guitar strings and drum sticks in those spots no more. Now that space is used for mixers and turntables and DJ mats and lights and microphones…
DJ Times: What did you take from your experience at DJ Expo West?
Jay: It made me realize actually how important the DJ really is. I’ve been going to a whole lot of conventions in the music industry, in the clothing industry – just doing this for 17 years – and this was something that was strictly for the muthafucka like me. There never, ever could’ve been this 17 years ago [laughs]. And I know how many DJ pools have grown and I know how DJing has grown in the overall, but that was the technical side of it to me. DJs were rolling around, looking for stuff to buy and looking to see what was in the store when they get there.
DJ Times: I noticed a lot of love in the room for you. People were all over you.
Jay: Yeah. Being there, knowing that the majority of the people there were better than me, that’s how I was feeling because they’re younger…it was like when I got my first 1200s. I was faster, stronger and nobody could fuck with me. A lot of people were going through that part of life. For me, it was like Julius Erving at the All-Star Game, knowing damn well that Allen Iverson will kill your ass out here. But Julius Erving’s still knowing that he can still dunk and make jump shots all day long. I mean, I still can play [laughs].
DJ Times: What’s the most important thing for a DJ to remember when trying to work a crowd?
Jay: You really need to be on the edge and you have to keep your eyes open. For me, to be able to vocally reach them and make them participate will make you. There’s no way that if you get participation out of a person can they say you didn’t rock it. That’s why, to me, the Kid Capris really get busy. Along with his scratching skills, he knows how to talk to the people. They might be mad at him sometimes because he didn’t let their record play more than 40 seconds and that was their favorite record, but he gets busy and he talks to you. He makes you part of the show.
DJ Times: When you do club gigs, you mix styles – rap, reggae, R&B, etc. How do you know when to change up styles?
Jay: For being down for 17 years, that’s how you know the different genres. Sometimes, the communication level can be off between you and the promoter. With me he might think that it’ll be an all-hip-hop night or something. But I look at the crowd. Like one time in Atlanta at the Cobalt Club I had a crowd that was 95-percent white and I knew that they wanted to hear Jam Master Jay from Run-DMC play some old-school shit. But when I play old-school joints like from Guru, and it’s not as big as a “White Lines” or Kurtis Blow, that means that these people are more into pop. So when I come out of that, I know I can’t come out too hardcore. I come out of it and I’ll try to pull out my Michael Jackson or an Elvis Presley – just to be fucking with you – and do some shit that’ll make me special for the evening. But if I knew the crowd ahead of time, I could’ve done more for them. The Guru would’ve never even lived.
DJ Times: Over the years with the group, what would you say is your biggest contribution to Run-DMC?
Jay: I’d say my style. The black hats is mines. The Adidas, that’s me. How I dressed in high school is the way we dressed. My vibe is our vibe. I was put in the group because of my thuggish vibe. And musically speaking, I made “Peter Piper.” That’s my legendary shit right there, aside from the joint they did about me called “Jam Master Jay.” And they did that because nobody knew who the hell I was.
DJ Times: How did you come up with “Peter Piper”?
Jay: I just took my Roland 808 drum and I just DJed on top of it, and I scratched and they said a couple of rhymes. We would rhyme and stop, rhyme and stop. They said the first thing and then I scratched on top of it.
DJ Times: What’s in your studio now?
Jay: I’ve got keyboards. I’ve got a hot Rhodes keyboard, the new [Korg] Trinity, an [E-Mu] SP-12, an [Akai] MP-3000, a Roland 2080, a Kurzweil 2800 sampler/keyboard. I’ve got a fully automated Mackie joint.
DJ Times: When Run-DMC first went on the road, the promoters must’ve been shocked to see a DJ and two rappers show up to the venue.
Jay: We were on tour with real bands, but we were the headliners because “It’s Like That” and “Sucker MC’s” was so hot. Nobody knew who we were, but the records were blazing. They’re on the radio all day long. Then we’d get to the venue and the promoter is paying us a G or something. The same promoter might’ve paid The Temptations the same thousand a week ago. They were a whole band, plus The Temptations are his shit [laughs]. So we’d come in and back in the day we had one Calzone with one big-ass GLI mixer in it. So it comes out and the promoter says, “Where’s the rest of the equipment? Where’s the band? They’re coming on a bus or something, right?” I’d be like, “Yo! I am the band.” He’d be like, “I ain’t going to pay no DJ playing records with a record player no thousand dollars!” But we ripped the crowd every night.
DJ Times: What is your opinion of the evolution of hip hop since Run-DMC broke out?
Jay: I just feel like it’s gotten larger and larger. But we always felt like all kinds of styles were going to happen. People were going to rap faster because we were rapping faster. DJs were going to get fast as hell. We were making rock-n-roll records, people were going to make jazz records, R&B records were going to come out. So basically, I’m not surprised one bit it’s gotten this big.
DJ Times: What advice would you give DJs looking to hook up with an MC?
Jay: It’s cool to make sure that you’re attaching yourself with some positive people who have the same vision, same views. You respect one another. As a DJ, you are the producer, you are the producer of the show or you are the band. Even if your MC is the producer, you are the band. I don’t say that I produce all of the show, DJ Run does that, too. It’s a team.
DJ Times: Why do you think Run-DMC connected so well with people?
Jay: I think it was more of our image. I think it was a combination of everything. We were real to people. The shit that they were saying was “everyday.” We were just doing our Cold Crush shit – so what was the difference between us and them? It’s not that the rhymes were a billion times better. So I think it was our whole image, the way we look, the way we sound, what we’re rapping about and what we’re rapping on top of. That “Sucker MC’s” record was so raw that it just cut through.
DJ Times: That image thing may have been true in New York. But when I bought your first two singles in Columbus, Ga., I had no idea what you looked like and I didn’t care. I’d never hear anything that sounded like “It’s Like That.”
Jay: With Run being amped and D being low, I know what you mean. To you, you haven’t seen me and you dig me, but in all reality that’s why you’re with the DJ Times and it might’ve just been you who bought that first record. You might’ve been the person in the neighborhood who had to put everybody else up on that record. You had no idea what we looked like, but it was that vibe, see what I mean? But those second songs – “Sucker MC’s,” “Hard Times” and “Jam Master Jay” – was more of the vibe that we was on. But that’s why “Rock Box” was created. It was our image, our vibe. We didn’t want to be R&B. We wanted to be hard. We didn’t wanna be disco because in the beginning “It’s Like That” was kind of a funk record. “Sucker MC’s” was because Russell and Larry [Smith] – the people who were in charge – respected what hip hop really was on the raw side. We were just saying what was on our mind. That was the vibe.
DJ Times: A few months after those records came out, everybody was wearing your gear. I remember visiting Manhattan in 1984 and seeing people on the subway in that Run-DMC uniform.
Jay: My first show was in a black high school in North Carolina. My next show was for all punk rockers in the Danceteria. There were about 60 weird niggas in here and some weird-looking motherfuckas, a whole lotta punk people. For us, coming from the Hollis ’hood to this, it’s ill. But we projected our vibe and we built that vibe until the Raisin’ Hell album. What makes Run-DMC the shit is our vibe and I think it’s our overall. It’s like hip hop – the sound, the look, the vibe.
DJ Times: Since Run-DMC’s “Rock Box” started the rap-metal sound, I’m curious what you think about the recent success of that sound.
Jay: Man…that’s some normal shit to me. Once I heard one white boy rap over some guitars I thought that was a wave. When I heard the Beastie Boys doing it, I knew it was a wave. It was a done deal. So it’s hitting the charts now. It just takes a minute for people to get caught up in it. I knew it would 17 years ago.
DJ Times: What did you think of the Jason Nevins’ remix of “It’s Like That”?
Jay: I loved that version. I love it like a remix, like it is. When I first heard it, I heard it like a remix of a Michael Jackson or a Janet Jackson record – a big record that somebody put a house beat behind it. It was cool. But in Europe, it was a crazy, crazy smash. I read a remark from Jason Nevins. Somebody asked him if he thought the group was appreciative and he said that he didn’t think we were. We were appreciative, but he made a remix of a record that we do every night, something we already know is a hit. He made it a bigger hit. He made it fit into a different genre. It’s the same tempo and everything, but he put a kick drum under it. It wasn’t the hardest thing for him to do that and it wasn’t the hardest thing for the radio stations over there to make it the biggest thing in the world. House music is so big in Europe and he made it a house record. He didn’t make a deal with us when he made the record. He made a deal with Profile. We don’t even own the record. Profile might’ve given a few Gs to him.
DJ Times: Profile owns the publishing?
Jay: Profile has half the publishing and they control and administer the publishing and distribute and own the records, so our group is a 10-point crew. But we got a lot of money off of the shows. I mean, we’d get the occasional $20,000 show, like a festival, but when the Jason Nevins remix happened that turned into $50,000. We even had one joint that was $70,000. But it wasn’t just because of that one song. It was because of the history of Run-DMC. It was because of the Gap commercial. It was because we were on television shows and the fact that we toured before that without a hit record and we ripped up shit. So when we made a hit the promoters were making offers we couldn’t refuse.
DJ Times: What was your approach to the new Crown Royal record?
Jay: That’s ill. At the beginning, it was me, Run and D, but D’s voice is messed up. Run is still battling muthafuckas, shorties, anyone come into the studio. And D is one a whole ’nother level. In the beginning, he was cooperative, but the shit we did didn’t sound right. So D was like, “Nah, let’s put some other shit on there.” It wasn’t like he wasn’t feeling what we were doing, but he hadn’t been listening to hip hop. He was listening to soft rock stuff. His CD selection is a whole different type of thing. What he gets out of hip hop is when he comes and does the shows.
DJ Times: So if his voice is off, how does he do the shows?
Jay: He’s just doin’ the shows. We doin’ the shows. He says he just can’t do all the screamin’ he used to do.
DJ Times: So what’s up with the record?
Jay: It’s some hot shit. We just started to get other people on certain songs. I’ll use an old verse from D that was real hot that you never heard and Run’ll hit a blazing new verse. Then we’ll get, like, the ODB to come in.
DJ Times: I’ll bet that was an adventure.
Jay: Yeah, he laid on the fuckin’ floor [laughs]. Shit. There’s a song called “Queen’s Day” with Nas, Run and my man Pras from Mobb Deep.
DJ Times: So you were sampling things D did in the past?
Jay: Yeah, sampling what he did in the past. See, we could’ve made a Run album, but at the same time, D’s our man. A whole lot of money was given to us. So we were just giving him a part of it. And we’re doing a whole lot of shows together. We’re going to split this money. We’re going to work this out. It’s still a family.
DJ Times: You also have Kid Rock and Everlast on the record. What did you get out of them?
Jay: Everlast is like the homie from around the way. Kid Rock is an amazing nigga. He just did everything. He was scratching and breakdancing, playing a guitar and coming up with rock-n-roll riffs. Nigga was playing the drums and programming the beats with me. He was DJing and scratching on the records. He was a DJ, so that’s why he was incredible to me. More than anything else, when the muthafucka was a good DJ, I was like, “Yo! I like him” [laughs].
DJ Times: Run-DMC are his idols, right?
Jay: He was on tour calling us up for a year, “Please, let’s do a record. Let’s play together.” We were like, “Who is this kid?” Then he’d call, “Yo! I got signed, I got a record.” Then he was blowing up and he was doing a show in New York with Limp Bizkit and he’s calling, “Please, please.” So we’re like, “OK, if we like him, we’ll do the show.” We come in the rehearsal spot and he’s got all our records.
DJ Times: Had you listened to him before?
Jay: They send us his tape and I’m like, “OK, he’s on some ‘King of Rock’-type shit.” So I go to the rehearsal and he does “King of Rock.” So we’re like, “OK, we can get with him for a minute.” He gets with Run and D to work out some shit and wanted to rehearse it a whole lot of times. We don’t want to, but we appreciate him wanting to. You gotta be tight. We don’t need to practice our shit a lot, but please, y’all, please rehearse our shit a whole lot [laughs]. So we ripped shit, but we heard that it was a highlight for him on the tour. Then when we did that shit with him and Aerosmith on MTV, that was Kid Rock’s dream.
DJ Times: Tell me about NationwideDJ.com.
Jay: Our site should be up June 1st. It’s a referral service for DJs and it came about because I do a lot of DJ gigs, but a lot of times promoters want me to do a lot of work for them, and I can’t because I’m doing a lot of Run-DMC shows. Promoters will be asking me, “Yo! Do you have the numbers for Kid Capri, Biz Markie, Lovebug Starski?” people who are celebrity DJs or DJs that have a name and can rock a party. Sometimes I’ll know them, sometimes I won’t. Sometimes I’ll know a kid who doesn’t do anything but work at a record store – but the nigga’s the bomb. He’ll blow up a party. So Nationwide is a website for DJs and we’re going to do a whole lot of things for the DJ. We’re going to teach people how to hire a DJ. We’re going to give DJs the opportunity to promote themselves around other DJs like myself, who can’t take all the work anyway. And I’m not just looking for hip-hop DJs. We’re looking for house DJs, Latin DJs, all different kinds. Now I’m hitting the pools, trying to find the good DJs. I’m looking for the ones with the good gigs. If you’re DJing at the Run-DMC show, you definitely have the mentality of a Nationwide DJ. You have the skills, the records, you have the talent to be down.
DJ Times: You’ve been DJing for over 20 years now. What are you most proud of?
Jay: Believing in something and being a part of something you believe in and watching it work and coming from it. Back in the day, if someone said that hip hop and rap was a fad, that was a joke to me because they just didn’t know what they were talking about. In reality, there were so many people who didn’t know what they were talking about it. So I like being a part of something that you believe in with your heart and seeing it grow into where we have The Source magazines and DJ Times – because it is so big. Now it is on the No. 1 this, No. 1 that. And it wasn’t just about making hip hop; we were able to make hip hop for everybody.