The knock on the door came late — too late for most folks. But DJ Heron was in a recording studio, where work often doesn't begin till the witching hour. And the cat doing the knocking said he was a friend of a friend who'd been working in the studio earlier that night and that he was supposed to meet him. Was the friend still there? he asked Heron. No? Did anybody know where he'd gone?
Heron couldn't really see the would-be visitor's face, but his story sounded legit. So he unbolted the door — and knew it was a mistake the moment he did it. At once the knocker had a gun to Heron's face and an accomplice by his side. Quickly, the two ushered the DJ back into the studio where they tied him up, wrapped a gag around his mouth, and left him to listen as they proceeded to clean out his entire studio.
Every machine, every microphone, every wire was carried out and loaded onto a waiting truck. Most devastatingly, though, the robbers stole Heron's hard drives, which were loaded with untold beats and rhymes. Beats and rhymes he could never get back.
Making matters worse, a few months later, execs at Sony Discos called Heron and said they were interested in an artist he was producing named Don V.A. At any other time, this would be fantastic news. But all of Don V.A.'s tracks were on those stolen hard drives. And Heron had no clue how he'd re-create what got Sony interested in the first place.
But no gun-toting scumbags would stop Heron from doing what he does. And within weeks, and with a little help from some real friends, he had not only re-created Don V.A.'s custom mix of salsa and hip-hop, but also made it even better. And when Don V.A.'s song "De Lao a Lao" dropped that summer, they both had a regional hit on their hands.
The quick comeback is indicative of what makes Heron one of Miami's most resolute DJs. Simply surviving such an ordeal would be enough for most folks; thriving in spite of it makes Heron one headstrong head spinner. The Lima-born, Brooklyn-raised Heron gets his name from the ghetto pronunciation of heroin. And it's his mission to ensure that his music becomes equally addictive.
Heron's first turn toward the tables came when he carried his cousin's vinyl-filled milk crates and watched while he spun some of Brooklyn's biggest block parties. His first local gig came at the old Cameo, long before it was Crobar, when a collective of hip-hop heavies put on a night called Club 1. Along the way, there were highlights such as opening for Black Sheep and Leaders of the New School at the Institute, and doing likewise for Redman at Salvation. These days, Heron is such a respected member of the scene he has become the house DJ for events thrown by 305hiphop.com.
Still, the spin is only part of what drives Heron to go above and beyond. He also hustles beats and twiddles the knobs for a plethora of well-known rappers — Special Ed, for one — and up-and-comers such as Destiny and Melodic. And though he hasn't yet had a hand in the career of Termanology, for whom he opens at PS14 this Friday, there's a high likelihood the two will make a lasting connection. Even if they don't, by the time you rid your head of beats by everybody from Biz Markie to Drake and Saukrates, you won't care who else is connecting with whom, just so long as DJ Heron keeps connecting to you.
DJ Heron's all-time top five:
1. "Nobody Beats the Biz," Biz Markie
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2. "The Choice Is Yours," Black Sheep
3. "So What Cha Sayin'," EPMD
4. "I'll House You," Jungle Brothers
5. "The Ten Crack Commandments," Notorious B.I.G.