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By Michael E. Miller
The best DJs dig deep into the sounds they're spinning. And that doesn't mean just the components of a given track — the structure of the beat, the motion of a melody, the drive of a bass line, and so on. No, the best want to know where a song comes from, whether it's who did what and why, or the wherewithal that made it possible in the first place. To do so, these DJs get into the minutiae of the music, the facts that most figure in a track. This way when they let loose with the spin, they know just what makes it so dizzy.
Just such a DJ is the cat called Sire Esq. He named himself in homage to his UK birthplace (sire is a British honorific, and esquire "just sounded good next to it"). This beat-obsessed Miami-based head spinner is as much aware of a song's history as he is of what it will do to a dance floor. Much of that can be attributed to the fact that Sire Esq. moonlights as a music critic, and his byline can be found everywhere from Vibe and New Times (to which he still occasionally contributes) to hip-hop sites such as Mass Appeal, Elemental, and Wax Poetic (for whom his first piece — about DJ Le Spam — is set to run this summer).
But digging into the sounds and writing them all up is only part of what makes Sire Esq. one of our town's most informed ops. He's part of a squad called Champion Sound, which includes the likes of DJs A-Train, Mr. Brown, Maneuvers, and Lumin, who all rotate in and out of the Electric Pickle every Wednesday night. On air, he also helmed the long-running State of Emergency on DJ Affect's now-defunct W305.com and can be found regularly on A-Train's Ustream show Ocean Frontin'. Then there's his position with DJ Irie's much-respected Artist Related Group, a well-known entity that represents Miami's most in-demand DJs.
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Sire Esq. considers Artist Related "a great team," he says, and he's as respectful of Irie's professionalism as he is grateful for the action the affiliation creates. You can hear that gratitude when he occasionally booths up at Philippe for one of TAI Entertainment's notorious dine and dances, or on the odd Thursday at Vagabond for Shake. And you can hear that gratitude coming through each Saturday night at Opium Hard Rock or every Wednesday at the Electric Pickle for the aforementioned Champion Sound throwdowns.
Sire Esq. says what he does is "open format," but that's just a catch-all phrase for the wide variety of styles he works into his spin. Back in Blimey, he was taught the art of eclecticism, and his hip-hop-based backstory branches out everywhere from funk and rock 'n' roll to breakbeat and house. "Just as long as it's fun," he says, "and it gets a crowd going off." Being the pragmatist, he's also an old hand on the Serato (because every club seems to be so endowed). Yet it's to vinyl that he remains most faithful, and he's known to hit the Technics every chance he gets.
That open-minded approach worked wonders for Sire Esq. during his years-long residency at Jazid, as well as his stands at storied venues such as Set, Glass, and B.E.D. And it worked for him when he spun the night for both De La Soul at the old I/O and for King Britt at the late Bullfrog Eats. But open-minded also means "open ears and open eyes," he says, and no matter where he's turntabling, Sire Esq. makes sure he "pushes it a bit and puts people on to something new."
No, just because a cat's in the know doesn't mean he's got chops enough to rock our world. But it sure adds some gravitas to the groove if he does. That's Sire Esq. defined, a mad mix of knowledge and talent. And if that's not a one-two punch worth dancing to, there's no such thing as the ones and twos.
DJ Sire Esq.'s five tracks for the summer:
1. "Good Life," Inner City
3. "Lemonade," Gucci Mane
4. "Technology," Mayday
5. "Summer Madness," Kool & the Gang