Page 24 - Nine5Four November 2016 Digital Issue
P. 24

DJ EFN | DOING IT FOR THE CULTURE
WHERE IN MIAMI ARE YOU FROM? I
moved to Miami at a very young age from Los Angeles. We came to the Ken- dall area and I have been in Kendall ever since.
WHAT KIND OF MUSIC DID YOUR FAM- ILY PLAY IN YOUR HOUSEHOLD GROW- ING UP? There was all kinds of music around me. From Salsa, to Disco, to Rock and Jazz.
AT WHAT AGE DID YOU FALL IN LOVE WITH MUSIC? I can’t remember the exact age but I can tell you I loved music for as long as I can remember.
WHAT WAS THE FIRST HIPHOP SONG THAT YOU LEARNED THE WORDS TO AS A KID? I knew a lot of songs so I can’t pinpoint which was the first one but I can tell you a few that I remember I knew front to back. Beastie Boys Paul Revere, Stop The Violence Self Destruc- tion, NWA Straight outta compton, 2 Live Crew Hey we want some pussy, Run DMC My Adidas
WHAT WAS THE MIAMI HIPHOP SCENE LIKE WHEN YOU WERE A KID? As a very young kid it was just about having your boombox, making your own mixtape with different songs and just hanging out with friends around the neighbor- hood. But as I got a little older and start- ed to become more mobile we would go to local house parties. Keep in mind there were no hip hop clubs or commer- cial hip hop radio shows. So the local hip hop community communicated through pirate and college radio or through word of mouth. So we would hear about a jam going on at a warehouse or an aban- doned building and everyone and I mean damn near everyone that was into hip hop from around the city would show up. It was a mix of bboys, bgirls, graf writers, MC’s, djs, and regular hip hop heads. Some of those early parties were rough environments. Now when I speak on the hip hop scene I am speaking very specific to ‘hip hop’ cuz before this time period and during there was the Miami bass scene which did have more estab- lished venues like the pack jam, sky light, 5th street, as well as radio shows and although we now see the two scenes as one they were parallel in the early 90’s. Not to say we didn’t support or go to those venues cuz we did but it was two different worlds back then. Bass was
already established as a Miami staple and a lot of us in the hip hop scene were trying to establish a respectable hip hop scene for Miami. We wanted to be re- spected for hip hop skills, whether it be lyrical skills, bboy skils, graf, turntablism etc..
HOW DID YOU GET YOUR START AS A DJ?
Seeing dj’s like Dr. Dre, Terminator X, Cut Creator, Jam Master Jay, and other DJ’s... ..I knew that’s where I wanted to be. The DJ might of been in the background but they controlled everything. Whether they controlled the music for the MC, or they controlled the feeling and vibe in a party or club the dj commanded respect. Although I wanted to be a dj, I was to broke for tables and I didn’t know any djs so at first I started making pause tapes on two cassette decks. Then I was able to get a dj starter kit that was advertised in the back of the Source Magazine. Eventually I graduated to Techniques!
WAS DJING COMPETITIVE WHEN YOU WERE COMING UP? Very. Whether it was about straight skills, or having the right records it was very competitive. So much so that sometimes it was real beef with other dj’s and their crews.
HOW DID YOU GET YOUR DJ NAME? I played with names like Efunk, FunkE and eventually I played it safe and went with my initials. My name is Eric, so EFN are my, first, middle, last name initials.
YOU WERE ONE OF THE FIRST SOUTH FLORIDA DJS TO START DOING MIX- TAPES. WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO BRING THAT ART FORM DOWN TO THE SOUTH? As much as I wanted to have the skills to be a serious turntablist, unfortunately I didn't have those skills. Especially not competing with incredible djs like DJ Craze, who is also from my area. So I thought what other ways can I make an impact and mixtapes were a no-brainer. We got so many mixtapes from New York down here and although these mixtapes were our source for all the new and hot music, these mixtapes repped Brooklyn, Queens etc.. So I felt I could make the same quality of mixtape but the difference is my mixtapes catered to and represented Miami. So you could hear a lot of the same music but the dif- ference was I featured freestyles from local artist, I did shout outs referenc-
ing people and places in Miami and the titles and artwork would also rep Miami.
WHAT KIND OF TRACKS WERE YOU PUT- TING ON YOUR EARLY TAPES? Anything and everything coming out in the 90’s. I was breaking a lot of artist in the city from outside the city and from within. So you might of heard Jay-Z for the first time on my mixtape and you might of also heard Rick Ross for the first time on my mixtape.
HOW WERE YOU MARKETING YOUR MIXTAPES BACK THEN? In order for me to compete with these out of town djs that had an advantage of being close to the artist and music, I would drive out to record stores in Atlanta, and NY. So my first mixtapes were straight up mixes with records. Then I graduated to using a fourtrack, and then artist and record labels would send me dat tapes with ex- clusives and freestyles. So as time when on more and more production went into every mixtape. It became a mix of intro’s being record in the studio, adding these leaks that were being sent to me and mixing the rest. Also things changed as things went from cassette tapes, to cds, then all the way digital.
YOU WERE ONE OF THE FIRST PEO- PLE IN HIP HOP THAT WAS HEAVY ON BRANDING AND MERCHANDISING. HOW DID YOU KNOW MERCH WAS THE WAY TO GO? I just studied all the successful crews and indie labels. I took a little from all of them to conceive my own strategy. For example the branding of Wutang and them creating wuwear, the massive presence of NoLimit and their aggres- sive indie movement, or the iconic logos like Public Enemy. I really tried to figure out what these guys were doing and the impact of what they were doing had. Luckily I have the knack for marketing and promotion and merchandising was another tool to get our brand out.
YOUR MIXTAPE COVERS ALWAYS STOOD OUT. WHO DESIGNED ALL THOSE COV- ERS? My early mixtapes were just track listings, then I started putting out tapes with graphics which different people were involved in. A lot were designed by these dudes called Double Cross, others by different designers, my homie and lo- cal graf writer Deed did a few and I even designed a few myself.
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