One day in the okayoffices, we kept smelling wax. We swore it was just Common burning some candles, but then we heard all these ill cuts and scratches. We fled our terminals to find the source of the perfect blends, and it turned out to be DJ Babu. A member of The World Famous Beat Junkies doing a show just for the okaystaff?!! We almost didn't want to stop him to do a quick interview, but we were scared he was going to ask us to battle.
We just played it cool and shut off the main power switch.
OKAY: Sorry about that. With all the computers and stuff, sometimes we blow a fuse. Uhm, let's just talk until the lights come back on. So we hear that you got down with Dilated after the group was already formed. How'd that come about?
Babu: When I hooked up with Dilated, it was around the time I was really heavy into my DJ battling. I'd moved out to L.A. to take a management position at Fat Beats. I had already known Rakka (Iriscience) through a mutual friend. He was always buggin' me to come and build with his partner. Rakaa would always say, "We've got this crew...". I'd heard of them through this one Immortal Next Chapter compilation they were on. It was really hard for me 'cause I lived 45 minutes out of the city, but when I was geographically near them, things would start naturally tumbling. I would start running into Evidence, start going by Fat Beats, burn some spliffs together in the back, listen to his new music. That was around the time they dropped the first 12" on ABB Records. Around that time I was heavily spinnin' on L.A.'s 92.3 The Beat. Every week I was burnin' my favorite song, "Third Degree" by Dilated Peoples. When I met them, it started as, "Hey, why don't you come down to the recording studio and scratch on this?... why don't you come do this little show with us?..." and it just snowballed into me just being lucky enough to DJ with my favorite rap group.
OKAY: Who were some of your influences as a DJ coming up?
B: Aww man. Even before I knew that I wanted to do this, there were the forefathers: Bambatta, Theodore, Kool Herc, Flash, all those cats. But those who heavily influenced me when I knew I wanted to be a DJ were DJ Scratch of EPMD, Freshco and Miz, Low Profile. Later on, I would get more into DJs like the X-Men, the Skratch Piklz, but I was really heavy influenced by that time by like, Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince, Freshco and Miz, Cash Money and Marvelous, when the DJ was a focal part of the group. He wasn't just a cousin or a homey. That's really what drove me, I think. Then I adapted on to more little current DJ styles, but I have always kept that traditional kinda flare in my style.
OKAY: What is the difference you've experienced being a signed artist, as opposed to being independent?
B: I can't speak for other groups, but in our situation, it's... we're still very hands on. It's just that being signed, we have more of a resource and more things we need to follow up on and look after. You know, it's a double-edged sword, we have more resources to get our music heard, but at the same time there're more personnel, more things we have tie down. We know what we want to do with our music and the label respects that. Sometimes they take initiatives and it's not exactly what we want, but it's all working out. By this time next year, Capitol is gonna be in the Dilated frame of mind on how our music is gonna be out there. Anybody else who happens to sign to the label are gonna be lucky, because they are going be coming through a grassroots format. We're trying to have that whole department have Dilated's back. Third eye open for all our employees.
OKAY: When people come up to you, do they point to anything in particular about your style?
B: To tell the truth, It's weird, usually when people come up to me, you know, they just want to give me a pound and say wussup, they like what I'm doin', they like my sound, and I don't know if it's anything in particular. It kinda weirds me out, nahmean? I'm still adjusting to people knowing me off the street, or me going to a hip-hop club and cats recognize. It's all a big blur to me sometimes, man. It can get my head spinning and it's incredible. I' ve spent too many years in the bedroom, you know, and for this shit to be a reality now is like, "Wow". So I'm glad that anybody likes any part of my style. Before there were videos, I would listen to records, and I would try to decipher what they were doing just by listening. DJ Scratch doing "Funky Piano". I don't how may times I rewound that. I don't how may times I rewound Aladdin's "On A Rampage", or "We Don't Play" by Freshco and Miz. When videos came out, I could see what dudes were doin. I could see a DJ battle, I could see how cats were marking their records, doing the smart things, and I could also see the bad things that DJs were doin'. So that taught me a lot, and it meant a lot for my exposure. Like DMC, and ITF battles that I was in, people probably wouldn't be seein my stuff, and I probably wouldn't be in the position that I'm in now with my own deejaying thing.
OKAY: What's the concept behind the album cover and the liner notes?
B: Well, our whole thing and the title of it is "The Platform", and we have a statement that we run on the back of the CD if you look closely, it says "All movements begin underground". And the subway, you know, we were taking pictures of the L.A. subway, we used the L.A. subway map as guides to each of our songs, so it was visually representing that statement. We're a grassroots group. We're starting from the bottom floor, nahmean? We're not trying to jump any levels. We're also trying to get out there that "underground" isn't a quality, when we say 'underground', it's a state of mind... and it's a mentality. We're trying to have our shit as sonic as Timbaland, but at the same time it's dirty. It's a mentality that we approach, and how we chop our shit up.
OKAY: Right-handed or left-handed ?
B: I'm right-handed, but I scratch with my left [lights come on]
OKAY: Well, we didn't mean to bother you. We're sure okayplayers have more questions for you. We'll catch you later. Thanks for the private show. Peace.
B: Peace. [starts mixing]
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