DJ Craze is a musical trickster, but it's not his ability to manipulate beats with a magician's touch that makes him one. As 1998's DMC champion, his command of hip hop is well established, but Craze is not only hip hop's reigning champion -- he's a master junglist as well. In 1995, while honing his hip-hop skills in Miami clubs, Craze picked up on jungle's busy beats well before it was popularized by Goldie and others. Slowly, over the last few years, he's begun to follow in the footsteps of DJs like Spooky and the Baroness, who go for the eclectic rather than the static, merging styles into finely crafted sonic palettes. Routines that once masterfully flipped hip hop now move easily between styles, blending the best of both genres to create a unique sound that pushes both turntablism and DJ culture forward.
Craze sets are crafted in layers. With a turntablist's touch, he cuts hip hop over a solid jungle beat, yet never loses the frenetic flow inherent in the latter. Then, turning on a dime, Craze flips styles so the jungle falls over deep hip-hop beats like fine dust. Although this merging of styles is quickly becoming common in clubs -- the Justice League did a series of Crewsade parties blending the two genres last year -- most nights are geared to the junglist. Craze's appearance will be a full-tilt house party for hip-hop fans and, more importantly, a good chance to catch the unveiling of his latest turntable tricks.
-- Robert Arriaga
DJ Craze plays Friday, Jan. 22, at 9 p.m. at the Justice League, 628 Divisadero (at Hayes), S.F. Zion I and J. Boogie open. Tickets are $10; call 289-2038.