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Friday, July 23, 2010

Oakland Faders' DJ Platurn on Why Song Requests Suck and the Rise of Bottle Service Hip-Hop

Posted By on Fri, Jul 23, 2010 at 3:00 PM

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How do you feel about the success of hip hop artists like Drake, Lil' Wayne, and Jay-Z?

I honestly don't knock those guys at all. Even those three dudes you mentioned are smart guys and talented in their own rights. I don't love all their music by any stretch, but they put out pretty dope stuff on occasion. They're playing the game properly. They understand that especially nowadays, rap music is generally a young person's music. It's more about having fun and being in the club. It's not really for older folks who were into hip hop back in the day and can't relate to [today's] music as much. Dudes like Drake and Lil' Wayne are talking about popping bottles in the clubs. For a dude like me who's been around for a while, the age of hip hop that I come from talked about that a little bit -- partying and having fun in the club -- but it wasn't the only subject matter. I grew up in an era where Public Enemy was the Jay-Z of their time. They were a political group. A hundred thousand people would come to see them. They were talking about really risky stuff that people were scared of: bashing the government, talking bad about the president and society. They were not saying "Fuck the US;" they were confronting the issues and saying what needed to be fixed. 

You don't hear that much in music these days. It's something I miss. I love to party myself -- I'm a party rocker DJ -- but it would be refreshing and kind of cool if these big rappers, just once in a while, and even in a big radio song, talked about something important. There have been examples like Jay-Z and Young Jeezy's "My President is Black." They were talking about relevant, social things that needed to be discussed. That's where my stance is. There's more to life than partying.

Which rappers do you find socially relevant today?

When I stopped hearing subject matter that I could relate to, I stopped listening. When I DJ and whatnot, I'll definitely play some hits, but those are dumb songs out in the club that people love and have no meaning at all. It's a song that's a hit for two weeks and everyone forgets about it after that. Honestly, the rappers I pay attention to nowadays that are giving you a little more relevant content are Brother Ali, Murs, and Zion I. Zumbi [of Zion I] is an interesting example of a rapper that has a lot of presence on stage and gets people really excited and ready to party, but who's actually talking about really important and relevant shit at the same time. Even if you're not there to be given a lesson, you kind of walk away learning something anyway, which is really cool. That's how I regard a lot of my DJ sets. I want people to be entertained but educated at the same time. 

A lot of those guys who are concentrating on more relevant subject matters in terms of society are not really popular dudes. They might do okay but aren't making a whole lot of money and traveling the world. Jay-Z has really interesting and fascinating and thoughtful shit that he talks about on occasion. It's generally not the music that people know him for; he's mostly known for party tracks. Even Drake is one of those anomalies: he never degrades women and is one of most popular rappers in the world. You usually hear that all the fucking time in rap music these days. Rappers talk about girls in some demeaning way, talk about getting paid and partying in the club. But dudes still respect [Drake] as a rapper and listen to his shit. We haven't had someone come around like that in a long time.

What happened to the hyphy scene?

It's an interesting question. On a major scale, the Bay Area music scene never died. It just faded in the public eye. It was really popular for a little bit because of one particular song called "Tell Me When To Go" by E-40. It's the big song that really pushed the hyphy movement here in the Bay Area. It was the last one that was really popular. When it faded away, people thought Bay Area rap music was dead, but there's so much more to Bay Area rap music than what people thought hyphy music was. 

Forget about Tupac and Digital Underground -- groups have been around here making Bay Area hip hop music for a really long time. L.A. and New York are huge financial markets, but the Bay Area isn't a huge financial hub for music. We have Silicon Valley, Google, Twitter, but we've never had a big music industry. The Bay Area music scene is always here, but it's not always being talked about outside of the Bay. It's unfortunate because there is a lot of amazing shit that's going on here on a regular basis. There are artists and DJs besides Metallica and Green Day.

Snoop is L.A. Jay is New York. We have E-40 but people don't know him all over the world like they do Snoop and Jay. This is how the music industry works. Trends come and go and people talk about what's popular at the moment, and that's what hyphy music was for a while.

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Alex Wolens


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