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Monday, June 22, 2009

Hey DJ! (Monday) Q&A: DJ RasCue

Posted By on Mon, Jun 22, 2009 at 7:07 AM

DJ RasCue has been hitting the decks longer than most of the kids in the clubs these days have been alive. For the past 26 years, he's spun a mix of everything from Latin to hip-hop to house and rock for little kids and big stars (William H. Macy). Now the local music community is giving something back to the local turntable master.

RasCue has been diagnosed with kidney failure, and undergoes intensive dialysis for his condition while he waits for a transplant from a donor. Like most folks in the music industry, he does this without the benefit of comprensive health insurance. So his buddies--Dialated Peoples, Opio, Pep Love, Rasco, Miguel Migs, J-Boogie, and many many more (over 50! in all) are performing at a benefit called "Rescue" on Thursday, June 25 at Temple. Starting at 10 p.m. that night, you can hand over $12 for RasCue's medical bills and in return get hours of top-shelf entertainment. Learn a little more about the man so many are going out of their way to support in our DJ Q&A below. 

Name: RasCue

Club nights: Fourth Saturdays: Emmy's Spaghetti Shack in San Francisco; Fourth Sundays: Kings of Kings, Shattuck Down Low, Berkeley; Wednesdays: VooDoo Wednesdays at Luka's, Oakland

Styles Of Music: Hip-Hop, Rap, Reggae-Dancehall, Latin (all Styles), House (all Styles), Soul-Funk, Nu-Skool Breaks, Drum-n-Bass, Jazz, Rock

So what's your story, in 100 words or less? Started DJing when I

was 13, admiring local legend Michael Ericson, Cameron Paul, and Marcue

Guiterezz from the KSOL Days. I fell in love with hip-hop and knew I

would be a part of it. My first gigs were school dances, house parties,

and weddings. I settled on a style of mixing anything with everything.

I've amassed a vast record collection over the years: at one time I had

over 30,000 records. I also won Best All-Around DJ in San Francisco for

the SF Clubby Awards in 2000, my highest achievement, done rap

records, and done major international tours, spun for Conde Nast

parties and for major celebrities. I love what I do. I've always been a

slave to the music.

Since your next big appearance is a benefit in your honor--to raise money for your medical bills--can you tell us more about your medical condition?  I have kidney failure cause by hypertension (high blood pressure), something prevalent amongst African-Americans--it runs in my family. I recently got listed on the National Kidney Donor List and am presently seeking a living donor. I've been on dialysis (the process of blood cleansing my kidneys cannot perform anymore) since Dec. of 08 and go three times a week, 3 1/2 hours each session. My health care costs have been enormous and Medi-Cal doesn't cover everything. I'm very humbled and honored for this benefit but more importantly to bring more awareness to organ donation and organ transplant issues. This is much bigger than me.

Do you have health insurance? I have Medi-CAL now, which took forever for me to get, and am waiting to hear from Medi-Care, but not all my bills are retractable.

Do many of the DJ s you know have health insurance? If not, how do most people you know deal with costly medical issues?
I remember a while back in the 90's when a few DJs in America were trying to organize this DJ insurance program, but it never came about. I think that still needs to happen. I assume many DJs still don't have health insurance. It's hard to say how they deal with not having it, but I'm sure moments like this will wake them up to get on it.

Back to the music, what's one big change you've noticed in the DJ landscape over the years?
Obviously technology. I come from the old school where you had to pay your dues, had to earn your respect to get put on. It's ridiculous now. Anybody and everybody can be a DJ and the industry doesn't help it much by putting inexperienced, wannabe DJs in good gigs cause they can pay them less(or no pay at all) and/or their friends who got Serato for Christmas and downloaded someone else's playlist. I'm not a hater but it is very discouraging. Most of these DJs are wack and I'll tell them to their face...YOU SUCK! I come from the age of competition and battling...where you had to search for a hard to find a record. It's a whole different ball game now...I can go on and on about this.

Name of a track you can't get out of your head: Well, at the present time I'm working on four different rap albums: Three solo records (highlighted by a collaboration I'm working on with Red Astaire/Freddie Cruger) and my group Various Blends with my partner Friz-B and vocalist Aiko. So as much as I have many favorites as far as new music, I'm mostly listening to my own.

Name of an artist you're currently championing in your DJ sets:
Laura Izibor...check for her!!

Musical mantra: DJing to me is like a scientific and spiritual experience. This is how I teach it, the science of DJing. There's a passage of taking all the right steps in the right order when learning, to have confidence when you are not good, and to always feel you can still learn when you are good. You don't judge yourself based on someone else's skills, and you use anything as inspiration to be your best. I've been DJing for 26 years, pretty much my whole life. I'm still learning....

Favorite DJ experience: There have been so many: Getting a $200 tip for two requests; DJing in the Hollywood Hills at some mansion with William H. Macy and Outkast (they didn't perform though); My first gig in Sao Paulo, Brazil; performing in Poznon, Poland and people were literally bleeding in the crowd from going nuts...too many to mention...

Worst experience: Too many of those too...I can remember one in particular but I'd have to say DJing a kids party. You would think that would be easy, but they are tough! It is unfathomable to them that you don't have every song ever made!

Worst club faux pas you've committed: Many DJs can attest to this, like getting to your gig, running late, and you forget something obvious like your computer or headphones or even your records (old school). I did a gig recently and brought some records to play and had no turntables!

Most treasured vinly score?
Now I can't give that information away, but let's just say record diggin' in the years of 2002-2005 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. DJs like Pogo, Madlib, Nu-Mark, Cut Chemist, Babu and myself cleaned house!!! Shouts to Nuts and Zegon on that one!!

What other music-related projects are you currently working on? I'm part of a collective called Urban Umpires. We're a full purpose multi media and musical one stop: emcees, DJs, promotions, publicity, video production, audio production, artist management, etc...I'm also working on a new DJ collective called "CityRoxxx" and my rap projects. I aspire to be a better writer and do a book of poetry one day.

What elements would your fantasy club night entail?
I've experienced that already...when a crowd is enjoying your set and you are driving them into a frenzy!! No better experience than a super big club or a hole in the wall.

Question we didn't ask you but  you often ask yourself: Well, I had a few times where I thought of retiring and got real close, so that question would be "How come I'm still doing this?" and the answer is "Cause I love it and it's always about the music!"

Next time we can see you spin: You can see me at the benefit!! Next time I'm spinning? Sunday, June 28th at the Shattuck Down Low in Berkeley w/ DJs Smoky and LadyLu. My Birthday Party!!!!

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Ian S. Port


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