Interview: DJ Evil Dee

WRITER
Yayoi Kawahito

Hailing from Brooklyn, New York! Dj Evil Dee is a legendary DJ / producer, well-known for his involvement as half of “Da Beatminerz” alongside his brother Mr Walt. Da Beatminerz pioneered a dark and gritty production style that defined a lot of the early 90’s East Coast hip-hop sound. He went on to create the hip-hop supergroup, “Black Moon” (consisting of MCs Buckshot and 5 FT ). As Da Beatminerz, Evil Dee produced classic anthems like Black Moon’s debut single “Who Got Da Props?” and Smif-N-Wessun’s single “Bucktown”. DONUTS MAGAZINE got a sneak peek into the basement studio of hip-hop legend Evil Dee! Here, we discussed his taste of production, career and other vinyl-related stories!  

――Da Beatminerz are known for producing countless hiphop hits. What feeling do you get when you hear something you’ve produced on vinyl?
Been in this game for 25 years, and still find it exciting!! I’m grateful all my fans have supported everything I’m putting out. After a record is finished and released, its so cool to see how each record affects different types of people.

――First produced songs and pressed on vinyl?

Finsta Baby - Finsta 1992

The first record that came out under Da Beatminerz name is

Poppa Large - Ultamagnetic MC’s

produced by original Da Beatminerz members; Aaron Lyles and Ike Lee.
Ike showed me how to use the sampler and taught us how to loop.

――What songs have you sampled lately?
It's a secret. (whispering)

――I understand it’s secret, however inquiring minds would like to know.
Most of the songs I’ve been working on are for a new Black Moon project. I sampled a lot of heat for this album. I think record heads will get warm feelings when they hear it, like, “Oh my god, I have that record!” Also, DJ Muro gave me a 7-inch record years ago that I’ve been holding for a special occasion. Back then, I was like "Yo, I have to use this on something”. Fast forward some years, and I finally flipped it on the album. The whole album sounds raw and gritty and I like how its turning out. This might be our last album.

――When can we expect this new Black Moon album?
We’re set to release in the fall. The recording is finished and mixed down is all that’s left. Right now, I’m looking at what I want to for the mixes. We have all types of analog gear. I might want to mix it on tape. The mix of the album is going to be a very fun process indeed. Also October is the 25th anniversary of “Enter da stage”. We’ve been prepping the album around that as well.

――Are you guys planning to press it on vinyl?
Streaming is the mainstream these days, and usually after I finish a song I have an inner debate on whether I want to press it on vinyl or not. Definitely for the next Black Moon album! We must press it on vinyl!

――What do you think about the sound of modern hiphop?
Well, I think it’s a good thing that the generation now has more artistic freedom to do what they want to do. It is a little disappointing to hear that they aren’t sampling songs like we used to. Sampling is the essence of hiphop! The fundamental foundation of hiphop is not just cut, paste and loop. The new styles like “trap” might sound cool and have the same elements, but the intentions are different. Also I’m a lyrical dude, and if I don’t understand what you’re saying in the song, I most likely will never hear it.

――In regards to production, what is most important to you?
These days, the mainstream is on the internet. The opportunities for beat makers and artists to talk about music production are getting harder and harder to find. I think communication is very important in the direction of a song. I’m old school and crafting a song isn’t as simple as “Here’s a track I made, use it!”. For the production, I’m concerned about the sharing of ideas for the artists and producers involved. They have to move in the same direction.

――How much time do you spend in the basement?
I would spend like a day to go through all my records. Back when we used to buy records, we would spend like a whole week just digging.

――Please show me  your favorite vinyls!

Criminology - Raekwon feat Ghost face Killah

I have an awkward way of djing. I’d play at the party and throw something like this in the mix to catch people off guard. I’ll drop it in party when I see people getting too comfortable, and then their reactions are like, “Oh shit”!

Goodie Mob - Cell Therapy

Cell Therapy is an ill record! I actually broke this record out the first time played it. I love these guys. Their minds are incredible and their sound makes you feel good. You have to see the documentary “The Art of Organized Noize” on Netflix to see what I’m talking about.

Woo Hah!! Got You All In Check - Busta Rhymes

See how I marked this record. I like cutting this record for the breaks and drops.

――How often do your favorite vinyls change?
Honestly as a DJ, favorite songs change with a feeling. It also depends to a great extent on what you’re doing at that moment. Even if I say "This record’s cool!", my mind changes in the next moment. After I realized that, as a hip-hop producer, I started listening to more music other than hiphop.

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DJ Evil Dee

DJ Evil Dee
Hip hop DJ / producer from New York Brooklyn. Member of supergroup, Black Moon and producer for hit albums such as Black Moon’s "Enta Da Stage”, and "Dah Shining" by Smif & Wessun. He’s worked on a number of hits songs with Boot Camp Clik, Smif-N-Wessun, Afu-Ra, Black Star, Eminem, Flipmode Squad, MOP, De La Soul, Mic Geronimo, OC and many more. His career began in the 90’s, working at New York City radio station: HOT 97. Dj Evil Dee now has fans all over the world who continue to stand in his corner, making him one of the key persons of building Hiphop’s East Coast sound. Currently he works with his older brother Mr. Walt, where they both run Da BeatMinerz Radio.

Yayoi Kawahito

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