By Jacob Katel
By Laurie Charles
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Abel Folgar
By Kat Bein
By Jacob Katel
Soulja Boy might know how to "Crank Dat," but Detroit's DJ Godfather still had to crank the kid up several notches — and maybe Superman that ho — for his unofficial remix. Not a problem; really, it was all in a day's work for the head of longtime ghettotech label Twilight 76 and the soon-to-be unveiled digital music store Electrobounce.com.
Godfather's 15-year survival in the music business hasn't come without adapting to the times. And like the young Soulja Boy, who sparked his own phenomenal success through promoting himself online, Godfather has prospered by making that transition from vinyl stalwart label to all-digital label. Perhaps as a fitting farewell to bygone days of pressing up vinyl, he has even aligned himself with Rane, maker of the now-industry-standard digital mixing software Serato, releasing the company's first online mix, For the Freaks.
"I've been working hard — I've got a vision here," he says excitedly. "Instead of being stuck trying to sell records and trying to DJ with records, there are so many more opportunities to be a lot more hands-on and have a lot more control and take over. You have to embrace the technology. There's so much good music and you can only put out so many records, but we've put out 600 songs since we stopped doing vinyl."
Born Brian Jeffries, Godfather has name recognition in many countries. But he's also a positive symbol for the health of the Detroit music scene. When he isn't traveling, he plays there five nights a week at gigs ranging from hood authentic (i.e., local titty bar) to crazy majestic (the city's branch of the famous MGM Grand Casino).
While some other digital download sites turn a blind eye to bubbling-under genres in favor of broadly commercial dance tracks, Godfather is curating Electrobounce carefully, embracing not only MP3s of the ghettotech variety, but also other raw and regionalized underground sounds that might otherwise be marginalized, from Chicago juke trax and Baltimore club bangers to Florida electro.
"I want shit with grimy beats, that's all," he laughs. "Put it that way." Crank dat.