Another week of putting hella mileage on my feet with hours of dancing and walking, making new friends and strengthening existing alliances. Many adult beverages were consumed, many ill beats absorbed, many pounds given and pretty much non-stop good cheer was spread all around. Here are some highlights…
• Illest DJ’ing Display (aka the “Y’all Bammas Is Out Of Hand, Somebody Needs To Slap You For What You Did To Those Decks” Award): TIE – J-Rocc & Karizma
J-Rocc rolled into an explosive James Brown tribute party where it seems everyone had a few tricks to pull out in a friendly little game of one-upmanship. Even though digital DJ’ing is pretty standard now, he busted out a 45 case and proceeded to flip original 7 inches flawlessly for over an hour, cueing breaks and cutting them back and forth with timing that could be measured in nanoseconds. Fast forward to Saturday at the Raw Fusion jam, B-more’s own Karizma had a star-studded crowd of world class DJ’s awestruck with his mastery of the Pioneer CDJ-1000. His combination of creative pre-made edits and live manipulation of the CDJ’s looping and pitch functions were some of the most original DJ’ing concepts I’ve heard in a minute. Topped off with deft selection instincts and the ability to segue into different tempos, Karizma is one of the toughest cats to rock a set right now.
• Best Live P.A.: TIE – Jody Watley & Linn
Two vastly different experiences that I hate to have to compare but they both had me amped for different reasons. Jody Watley appeared behind the DJ booth where King Britt and Vikter Duplaix had already succeeded in lacing the proceedings with sexiness (it ain’t called Art of Seduction for nothing). She put on her stunna shades, grabbed the mic and strutted her fine self across the tiny stage, belting out only one of her new songs before vanishing into the night air. I went into full groupie mode and I will be copping her collabo with DJ Spinna as soon as humanly possible. Over at Raw Fusion, I had a chance to hear one of my favorite new voices rock some of the hottest tunes in her repertoire. Linn is a demure Swede with soul in her voice that sounds like it’s backed with generations of experience. She makes feel-good records that sound just as good when she’s delivering them live as they do when spinning on my turntable.
• Broadened Horizons Award: DJ Heather
As I pushed my way through the crazed hordes at the massive OM party I eventually reached an outdoor tent where DJ Heather was BANGING OUT. I’d never seen her before and it was dope that her skills were on point even though her selection wasn’t my steez. I probably need to hang out in Chicago more. The crowd was going bonkers and that’s what matters. Heather left no doubt that she takes her job seriously.
• Best Jam: Jump-N-Funk
Every year this event makes folks literally go apeshit for eight hours straight and its momentum shows no sign of slowing. Rich Medina, Ron Trent, Rob Rizk & the whole Africa Hi-Fi crew… don’t mess with the formula!
• James Brown Award (hardest working cats on South Beach): Daz-I-Kue & Afronaught of Bugz in the Attic
I swear these dudes had like 4 gigs a day. Are they the new British invasion? They damn sure were working overtime in Miami this year. Hope y’all made a lot of bank cuz you deserve it, even though that American money is jive slim. Keep mashing!
• Step Up Time Award: SunTzu Sound
What do you do when you’ve got to rock for 7 hours on the first level of a club where some of the biggest heavyweights in the game are crushing it upstairs? You step up and knock that jont out of the park. Big ups to J-Justice and Atlee for keeping the bottom level cranking at Co-Op until 5am while the Bugz crew had ‘em packed in upstairs. These cats are making a lot of noise for a crew that’s only been together 4 years.
• And The Reputation Precedes Them Award: J-Boogie
I have mix cd’s, edits & remixes from this cat but I’d never been able to catch one of his sets. He was a much needed relief from the crowded & overly ravish scene in many of the rooms at the OM party. His fresh mix of afro-latin funk mash-ups, obscure hip-hop bits and party classics gave me a lot of great ideas. Big ups to Sake One who plays with J a lot and who I managed to miss YET AGAIN. You should check him out.
• The “Why didn’t I think of that before?” Award: Y Ultra Lounge’s DJ moat.
The small stage that held the outdoor DJ booth in the front courtyard was surrounded by an actual moat fed by a waterfall. This must be one of the worst developments to happen to drunken idiots obsessed with harassing the DJ. Brilliant! Too bad the homie Statik fell in. Collateral damage does happen to non-combatants sometimes.