By Jacob Katel
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Craze has never been one to overstay his musical welcome in any one genre.
The Nicaragua-born, Miami-raised DJ boasts six DMC championship titles gained largely on hip-hop-heavy routines. Then, in the late Nineties, he won over hordes of ravers with his ingenious drum 'n' bass deck gymnastics. But these days, the only amens and apaches in his sets are the classic, slowed-down kind. He's embraced a kitchen-sink approach to beats, reaching back into his hometown's musical past of freestyle and Miami bass, and forward with the future sounds of flashy-neon, dance/hip-hop crossover artists like Klever and Kid Sister. The epiphany and subsequent change started in Miami.
"I did one set at WMC in, like, 2005, at some party. I didn't want to do drum 'n' bass, and I didn't want to do hip-hop," he recalls. "It wasn't like, a joke — it was like, Hey, I wanna do some Miami bass stuff; we're in Miami. And I did my Miami bass set, and it went off! So I was like, Hey, I'll start doing that again."
But not all of his fans have been able to adjust; Craze mockingly imitates the few voices in the crowd that continue to yell for drum 'n' bass. No matter, he says — when he played d'n'b, they wanted turntablism and hip-hop. And when he first began playing out on Final Scratch, nobody got that, either.
"It used to crash a lot. I did this one gig in Brighton, in the UK, and my laptop just shut off," he says. "And I remember this guy screaming at the top of his lungs: 'Yeah, motherfucker, what are you going to do now? Motherfucker, you should have brought records!'" Of course, since then, Serato (to which Craze switched a few years ago) has become the industry standard. It's tough being the first down a new road.
Regardless, Craze's new, more inclusive approach is winning exponential numbers of new fans. It's all captured in bass-heavy, grind-worthy form on his latest mix, Fabric 38. Encompassing everything from hip-hop and B-more to booty bass, freestyle, and even a dash of house, it's the perfect snapshot of the free-form, roof-raising sets he'll be spinning all over conference.