The Unknown DJ
by Jason Birchmeier

The Unknown DJ pioneered the mid-'80s style of electro popularized by the Egyptian Lover ("Egypt, Egypt") and the World Class Wreckin' Cru ("Surgery"), then went on to produce the trailblazing gangsta rap group Compton's Most Wanted at the end of the decade. Born Andre Manuel, the Unknown DJ recorded only a few 12" singles during the mid-'80s for two small-run West Coast labels, Techno Hop and Techno Kut: "Beatronic" (1984), "808 Beats" (1985), "Let's Jam" (1985), "Basstronic" (1988), "Breakdown" (1988), "X-Men" (1988), and "Revenge of the X-Men" (1988), the latter two also produced by DJ Slip (Terry Allen). These few 12" singles didn't attain much commercial success, yet they proved highly influential, particularly among the techno bass scene that would later emerge in the 1990s (see the Electro Boogie series). Beginning in 1989, the Unknown DJ and Slip put aside the electro they had been producing and joined Compton's Most Wanted, a gangsta rap group that resembled N.W.A. As part of Compton's Most Wanted, the Unknown DJ enjoyed considerable success for a few years as he and Slip produced a trio of popular albums: It's a Compton Thang (1990), Straight Checkn'em (1991), and Music to Driveby (1992). Following these albums, CMW's lead rapper, MC Eiht, embarked on a long solo career and the group dissolved, and with it the Unknown DJ's decade-long stint as a producer.

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