DJ Disco Wiz,it’s an honor

Posted: October 15, 2009 by essince in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

I’m really not sure how I do it. But I’ve been able to interview and speak with some of Hip Hop’s founders. I can’t tell you how much I learned from them.

I was able to speak with OG…DJ DISCO WIZ about life, the game, DJing, and, of course, his new BOOK!

“It’s Just Begun. Hip Hop’s FIRST Latino DJ.”


Plus, Wiz is a cool dude. He actually called me when I graduated from college to congratulate me and check up on me. Now how many legends would do that for a young kid interviewing him for a magazine or blog? With street cred out the ass and the stories to verify it, I’m blessed to say I had this interview. He now hosts a show on Urban Latino Radio, the “Hip Hop Chronicles”. He’s been on VH1, magazines, and now, his OWN book.

Dude invented the mix plate! His story is incredible.

Check it out:

Essince: Well, first, I just wanted to thank you for taking time to answer a couple questions and everything. I’m a big fan and I grew up listening to Hip Hop and I’m Latino I’m always trying to study and understand my roots so being able to talk to you is an honor, sir.

DJ Disco Wiz: Thank you, man. And thank you for reading the book. I really appreciate the love and support.

Essince: That is a crazy book! It really is not what I expected when I heard you were writing a book about your life. You went through some really tough times at such a young age. How do you think those instances affect how you view life and even music now?

Disco Wiz: It really puts a lot in perspective, man. You really kind of appreciate each day. It’s a new beginning. I’m completely blessed to be where I’m at right now. A lot of people didn’t even survive that road growing up in those circumstances and grew up with those obstacles. I’ve just been blessed. I guess…angels came into my life and blessed me at certain times and told me to go down a different path.

Ess: Why do you think it was important to document what you went through? Instead of just keeping it for yourself or a few friends, what made you want to publish your story?

DW: First of all, I didn’t set out to do that. This is not something I initially set out to do. I’ve been involved with writing so many books throughout the years that my initial response was that I want to write a book about hip hop. I knew hip hop from my perspective and I know it was a transcending genre of a movement that crossed all boundaries of a movement and was universal. I wanted to talk about that and the Latin impact of generations upon generations of youth no matter what their social status may be, you know? When I got together with Ivan Sanchez two-and-a-half years ago he shot me his book and I was kinda astounded, man. I read it. I read it in like a few days and was just blown back. This is a recurring storyline. I remember back in the 70s I remember reading Piri Thomas’s “Down These Mean Streets” and all those books that talked about urban youth coming up in all those obstacles. And here we are in a new millenium and here’s this guy who’s 13 years younger than me who grew up in the Bronx and he had to endure all the same pitfalls and obstacles that myself and millions upon millions of other youth have gone through. And you’re like, wow, this shit never ends. It’s just this same, repetitive, vicious cycle. Then we got to talking about my book and he was the one who was interested in telling my story. I didn’t really know what my story was. I wasn’t at that place where I was comfortable with myself where I could open up all those doors that hadn’t been opened for decades. Everything you read in that book I’d never told anybody. So it’s not like I went around like an open book to anybody. Not even my closest friends or not even my wife of fourteen years knew any of those things. So it was a very theraputic process for me. It was very freeing and very…relieving. And I can say that even now in my 50s I’m a better person for it.

E: Have any of the people in your book or any of your family members been able to read your book yet?

DW: My daughter. My daughter just finished reading a PDF of the book. We just got the books in and I just got my official hardcopy of the book a couple days ago. I’m still trying to grasp that. I’m still trying to get used to being an author. It’s still new to me, man. I’m still living in it. But I shot my daughter a PDF of the final draft about a month ago and she’s been completely blown away by it. You know? She didn’t know who her father was and she was a result of a lot of those things and it put a lot of things in perspective for her.

E: Growing up being one of the only Latinos in a mostly Black culture do you think you had to work a lot harder to earn respect? Do you think today that those prejudices are still there that we still need to prove ourselves in this culture?

DW: For me, back in the days, I guess my level of street credibility helped me break a lot of those stereotypes and boundaries. But we’re in a different place now, man. Hip hop is in a different place now, man. We’re in a global movement and I see those divisions there. And I really can’t pinpoint why our contributions aren’t as noticed as being substantial. For others, it was always a Black and Brown thing. So I don’t know how those divisions started to form. I never looked at it that way. When I was doing it it was definitely a new thing that was, well, we really didn’t know what we were doing, first of all. We were just following suit and just being inspired by what we were creating at the moment. We didn’t have the opportunity to look outside the box and see what we were creating something. We were just keeping ourselves occupied and trying to avoid a prison cell or cemetery, you know?

b: Can you tell me a little about the mix plate that you did?

DW: Yea. That just fell in our laps, man. That was probably one of our most substantial contributions to hip hop as a pioneering DJ, myself and Grandmaster Caz, my partner. We used to record all of our parties and all of our routines. We used to have a boombox on the side everywhere. We went we always did that. Then Caz started selling our tapes in the lunch room in high school. Then one day some guy just approached us one day in the lunch room when we were listening to music and said, “Yo, I love what y’all are doing. But have you ever thought about putting that on a record?” Then all these lightbulbs started going off like, wow, a record. You know we were kids. We were teenagers. We were never thinking about records or a record deal like kids now. That was so foreign to us. We were just in the streets playing music for the people. And he said, “No, you can take it and press it like a demo.” And we were like, wow. So me and Caz went back and started to compile a bunch of breakbeats and soundbytes and whatnot. Then we made a pulse tape and took it down and made a 10″ acetate demo. And it incorporated everything that was happening at that time. It’s hip hop. And we pressed that onto a vinyl record. And it became this whole new thing to do and we started to incorporate it into DJ battles. That was back when everything was about the DJ. And having that as part of your arsenal was so cutting edge and new [compared] to what everyone else was doing. So that was, I guess, our little niche. So when we’d go on we used to just throw the plate on and everything started to play by itself and everything started to come out of the fuckin’ speakers and we weren’t behind the turntables! The record was playing by itself. So it stepped up our game a little bit and kinda put everyone else on notice. Everyone else had their own contribution to hip hop. That was ours.

E: It was so cool reading your book because I was born in the 80s so I grew up seeing the MC in the spotlight. But back in the day, the DJ was the man. The rappers just used to back up the DJs. What do you think the importance of the DJ is to hip hop?

DW: The DJ will always be…always be…the backbone of the culture. Even though it’s gone through a metamorphasis to where it is right now it will still always be the foundation of the culture. It started and will always end with the DJ, you know? The microphone became a valuable tool because of its marketability. I guess it would be hard for a breakbeat record to make the Top 40. It just was not something that could have captured the attention of people. When the microphone started coming into play along with the formation of groups and crews the business end of it saw the marketability of it. They didn’t understand the culture they just saw it as something a buncha kids were doing. They just saw the marketability of speaking into the microphone, you know? They’re from the record industry. Then all the aspects of the business followed suit and the microphone started to rep for the culture and everyone else had to kind of fall back and let the microphone take the forefront. And that’s been more of the status quo. But there’s a huge underground movement showcasing all the elements in their formation. It’s not like that for the real, true hip hop heads.

E: I’ve experimented with a little of everything. When I was around 10 I started to breakdance for a few years. When I was 11 I started rhyming, and I still do. I still do graffiti, too. I DJ’d for real like…once. Haha. I was a roadie for a DJ back in Cleveland, DJ Jack da Rippa and I’d carry his records in the club and set up his turntables. One time he got a request at a boutique and he told me to put it on and just go for a while. I’ve never looked through his records. I’ve never really done much on tables. That scared the shit outta me. haha. I believe you said the first show you rocked was on 183rd at Slatery Park. Do you remember being nervous at all? I know you’d practiced a lot. Or were you just confident that you’d rock and just went out and did it?

DW: We weren’t really nervous at all. It was more excitement. There was really no competition out there. It wasn’t like the bar was really set up high, you know what I mean? It was a pretty open format. It wasn’t at that level of competitiveness, yet. It was the one dude who broke through with the whole genre, which was Kool Herc. Then on the other side you had Afrika Bambataa and you had [Grandmaster] Flash. It wasn’t this thing where you had to go out there and be super extraordinary. You just had to have enough moxy to kind of get around with the sound system and do it. There were a whole lot of like low level crews but it was a whole comedy of errors when we’d come together. One dude would bring some speakers. One dude would bring an amp. No one had the whole sound system. Unless you count the three, I guess you would call forefathers of the culture who, for some reason, had it all. That was the attainable goal for us. Me adn Caz were like yo, we need a sound sytsem. That became our goal. We knew what we wanted to do and already had some music and more or less a blueprint of what was incorporated in being a DJ. So it was just attaining that sound system, going out there and doing it. Like, a lack of bravado…we didn’t have. We were confident and knew what needed to be done and it was a real natural progression. So, shit, throwing a party was just the next, natural thing to do.

E: Do you think that nowadays, as far as being a DJ it’s easier? With all the new, affordable technology in home recording that anyone can just throw on an itunes playlist and claim to be a DJ? Do you think it’s easier to be a DJ now without having to “pay dues.”

DW: I really don’t like to take away from anyone’s abilities. I think any progress is needed and respected. I love the whole evolutionary process of the culture and I think it’s necessary and so whatever a person does to achieve the vision of what he wants to be is fine with me, man. You know, not everyone can be the ones the media and everyone looks to to set the bar. This whole thing was a form of expression. So if that dude can only afford that, and that’s his was to express himself then that’s what it is, man. Not everyone can be a baller. That dude is necessary. The dudes we used to smash up in the days. Those were low level cats from the neighborhood. They were the cats who saw us blow up right before their eyes. Those are the same people who played ball with us, and stick ball, and grew up with us. Those are the people we hung out with. But now, my partner and I are starting to get a little recognition and were cast amongst the elite. So these dudes would get their sound systems or borrow things from like 12 people and wanna come and battle us! Those are the cats we used to beat up a bunch and those cats are necessary. Those are the same cats you’re talking about now. They can’t afford to be on the radio or have 9 to 5 jobs. But that doesn’t mean they don’t have a love of the culture. Those cats are necessary.

E: What MCs today are you really feeling? If you got a call today asking you to go on tour, which MC(s) would make you get out and DJ full-time again?

DW: I’ve DJ’d for a lot of people. But if you were to ask me who some of my favorite MCs are right now who I feel are relevent, then I’d have to say Immortal Technique is at the top of my list. I like Thirstin Howl, Poison Pen, Hasan Salaam. I mean the list is intense. There are some up-n-coming cats now, too who are very relevent.

E: To someone not only interested in hip hop history, but particularly the Latino involvement in the culture, what is something should read, or watch, or who should someone speak to to learn more about our involvement in the culture?

DW: Well, that’s another answer to your original question which I didn’t know the answer to until I wrote the book. Our history’s never been documented, man. Our contributions to hip hop have definitely not been as noted as they should have been. And just writing this book now serves multiple purposes. I think one of those purposes is to show the Latino influences from its first inception. To show the impact where it really happened, you know what I mean? From when the door was first kicked in and that should be relevent to any Latino following in our footsteps. So that was the start of the process right there. Other Latinos who followed in that trail need to document their history. And once you start doing that, not just Latinos, but all pioneers. All first generation pioneers need to document their history because it has not been properly documented. No one can tell their story except for themselves. I’ve been a part of more than half-a-dozen books. I’ve contributed chapters, or sometimes just footnotes, but that doesn’t make a person’s history, you know what I’m saying? What a person’s history is is what you just read about me. So whatever press release or form of media you got before, I’m sure you know a lot more now. You see the bigger picture now. Which is probably why you mentioned earlier that you didn’t really expect what you read. And that’s not just pertaining to myself. That story is universal. That’s why everyone needs to get up and do that as well. Whether they do that themselves or with the help of an established author we need to tell our whole stories. We need to tell our stories we can’t let other people tell out stories because that’s when shit gets distorted. And that gets watered down or distorted and used as a weapon of misinformation whether it’s for their own gain or not.

E: I won’t get into too much detail because I obviously want people to read the book. You mentioned that because of the blackout in 1977 a lot of new DJs sprung up. Could you speak a little about the blackout? Or maybe just elaborate on the after effects on the music side because of the blackout.

DW: Like I said, man. We were just a buncha teenage kids. It was the ’70s, man. It was one of the most tumultuous times in New York history. It was so crazy. We had no money, no outlet, no social programs. We were just a buncha poor kids. But to have DJ equipment to help channel our love for this blossoming culture it was kind of like, impossible, man. Up until that point, hip hop was kind of in a stagnant pace. Before the blackout hip hop was only in one borough, the Bronx and actually one end of the Bronx. It wasn’t something that everyone could afford to do at a regular pace. I mean, you could come together once with a couple guys and we’ll hook up a sound system, but you can’t do that every weekend! Records fucking break, needles break, amps blow out. And this is before cooling systems were built into amps. These are the real big, giant monstrousity amplifiers, you know what I mean. We can’t afford that. We could barely afford to go to school. So when the blackout happened people just went out and got theirs. A lot of the electronics joints got looted and people just went out and went for what they wanted to do. It’s true, man. After the blackout we had a shitload of new DJs. Crews started springing up everywhere. And this was not the pack from before where it was just a handful of dudes who were dominating the scene. It kinda helped people finance what they loved and wanted to do. Whether or not it was legal? [laughs]. There were just a bunch of frustrated people in that situation and it was really disheartening. But out of all that destruction came a whole bunch of positivity. Come on. Nobody can deny that hip hop is a universal, powerful, viable tool. It’s so strong and transcending. It’s impact is still not done. Who knows where this thing is gonna go? It’s everyday life now. It’s the most universal genre there is right now. It’s in every walk and everyday life. Every time you turn around something has a hip hop jingle or flair to it. It’s the coolest shit ever. Who knows where we’ll be? Who knows what my children’s children will be.


old school flier

DJ Disco Wiz & the Cold Crush Brothers

Dj Disco Wiz: THE SOURCE MAG, HIP-HOP 101 ..’MERO-MERO..’ JAN / 2000

Grandmaster caz & Dj Disco Wiz : NY77 Project for VH1

Cop the Book from Amazon HERE

How can you know where you could go if you don’t know where you came from?



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