DJ Lord of the battle
Among other things, DJ Lord stands as Public Enemy’s man on the turntables. Having earned his stripes in various battles around the US, he stepped up to the plate about four years ago to replace Terminator X – no small task when you consider that Public Enemy are one of the most influential crews in hip-hop history. The Atlanta based DJ took a bit of time out whilst on tour in Spain to shoot back a few words of wisdom over email. Much respect must go to his manager Greg J for putting this in motion.
What have you been doing lately?
What have I been up too lately? I’m touring Spain right now on a Drum/Bass Festival Tour (Festimad 2002,etc.) but before that I was in the studio laying the cuts for our new (Public Enemy) album.
How did you hook up with PE?
I hooked up with P.E. about 4 years ago after meeting Professor Griff. He saw me at a Vestax Battle. He approached me about a few P.E. projects, touring, filling in… becoming a part of the family you know? I was stoked.
How did you get into DJ’ing?
I got into DJ’ing at the age of 15 after seeing my cousin rocking parties and listening to Grandmaster Flash, Grandmixer D.S.T., Jazzy Jeff, Cash Money… Whew… All those dope DJ’s blew my mind but it started with my cousin Bernard.
Who were your influences when you started out?
Again my influences were and still are: GrandMaster Flash, Jazzy Jeff, Cash Money, GrandMixer D.S.T., Jazzy Jay, Mantronix, Tat Money, Grand Dragon, Red Alert, Chuck Chillout…for starters. I was very young but I was a sponge to that sound.
What was it like trying to fill Terminator X’s place? Were there any negative experiences?
It was some BIG shoes to fill- replacing Terminator X. As far as negatives… I would have to say they came automatically. I had to prove myself over and over to myself…. to everyone else of course but to myself first. Hell, I came up on Public Enemy’s music; I imitated Terminator X’s skratches in talent shows in high school so I fit right in. The pressure was and still weighs a ton.
What are the PE guys like to work with?
The P.E. guys are like family to work with. You are taught the hard way, harassed but loved. You’re punched in the chest and then hugged… get it?
What do you think of battles at the moment?
Battles right now are still fine. Battling keeps you on point. It allows you to keep up with the new techniques and really build your mastery in all areas of being a DJ (if you practice to achieve it). But everyone’s so into the technical thing and the NEW skratch or belonging to some crew. All that stuff is cool as long as you remember to have fun with it and not get caught up in battle, battle, battle… chase the new IN scratch… get on someone’s dick… lose sight of your own shit…basically losing the FUN aspect of it. When you start losing that sight it ceases to be fun anymore and becomes a job. Have fun with your job; no fun and it becomes work and people don’t like to work so your creativity starts to lag.
Are you still battling?
YES. I am still battling. I am trying to juggle the DMC’s into my tour schedule this year although I’m going to miss my (Atlanta) regional because of a tour date on June 22nd in Hong Kong. People say to me all the time “Mistalord…Why in the hell are you still battling?”…You don’t need this shit… you are P.E.’s DJ dude… the politics, the getalong gangs, the “if you don’t belong to a DJ crew- who are you?” crap… WHY? I tell them it’s just in me. I love it. It (battling) brings out your inner power and you see creative sides you would never see DJ’ing in a nightclub every week dying of cigarette inhalation.
What do you think of The Allies Allstar Beatdown? How does it compare to the other major comps?
I’ve never seen the actual Allies Beatdown battle but I hear it’s good. As far as comparing to major comps. They are well on their way to becoming a major contender with the promotions, titles and overall dope concepts of the crew. Much respect.
You’ve diversified your sound to include more than just hip-hop. Do you think this is what turntablists need to do to get to the next level?
Hell Yeah. I think in order for you be a well-rounded DJ you have to be able to do more than just the norm. If you claim to be a turntablist that just makes it 5 times harder but it’s necessary to get to a higher degree. My foundation is Hip-Hop but I branched out into drum and bass. So during my shows I fuse the two along with battle routines and just plain weird shit… I am not of this planet.
Where do you think turntablism is at the moment?
At the moment turntablism is moving at the speed of sound. The art form is still young but we are moving faster than the M.C.’s (in my opinion) after for so many years of playing the back, never being seen at the group parties (if you were dope because you were probably at home practicing… like me.), and getting little respect even though you actually control the M.C.’s show. The DJ is now getting solo record deals, doing shows… everything without the M.C. crutch like in the past.
What would be your dream battle to watch?
A dream battle for me to watch would probably be Qbert vs. Tom Morello (the guitarist from Rage Against The Machine) in a Skratch/Sound battle.
Who are your favorite DJ’s at the moment?
I’ve got sooooo many favorite DJs right now because everyone has their thing. If I could build a favorite DJ, that would be fresh.
Have you been doing much production work?
I just finally started with my production. My schedule is usually so hectic I don’t have time to complete my thoughts. I’m currently working on my long over due album, a battle record and the rock band 420 MONKS’ album, which features BONZ formally of Stuck Mojo.
How do you think your DJ’ing has helped your production work and vice versa?
DJ’ing has definitely helped my production because as a DJ you get to actually break the music down because you are spinning records that you must memorize and after a while you get certain rhythms in your head, then more and more sounds get added to your memory banks so you can start creating off that foundation hence start defining your OWN sound. It has to start somewhere.
What music are you digging at the moment?
I’m diggin’ Drum/Bass at the moment. Bad Company, Klute, Tech Itch, Capone, Capital J, Tester, Todd at Rewind, the list goes on…
What can crowds expect from a DJ Lord set?
Crowds can expect the unexpected at a DJ Lord show.
Any last words for your Australian fans?
I’m honored to be visiting my Australian fans and I look forward to having a good time. Oh Yea… I want to remind everyone to bring their space suits because we will be visiting other galaxies during my set. Peace.
DJ Lord plays Sydney on Friday 7 June at the Metro Theatre supported by Kinetic Assassins (live), Bliss N Esoterikizm (live), Cool Hand Luke and Nick Toth.
It’s Melbourne’s turn on Friday June 21 at Seven Nightclub, and Perth’s on June 14th, Metro City. Tickets available at the box office.