Better Than: Watching DJ routines on YouTube
Full Disclosure: I'm a resident DJ at this party, under the name Sire Esquire.
Tribute events are not an easy task, as their themes often get sidetracked in the midst of the club lights. However, Wednesday night's benefit jam for Grand Master DJ Roc Raida of the X-Men crew, who passed away unexpectedly this past September 19th of this, was on point throughout. Some of South Florida's top turntablists, MCs, and of course party people came together to celebrate the legacy of the legendary DJ.
With proceeds going directly to Roc Raida's wife and children, the event was organized and hosted by DJ I-Dee, a personal friend and collaborator of Raida's, the Champion Sound crew who hold court every Wednesday at the Electric Pickle, and Last Right's Clothing. Stacked with a thorough lineup of over 10 acts, the night did not disappoint and made it one for the Miami scene to remember.
With dim red lights, video backdrops and a heavy sound system setting the ambiance at the Pickle, the night kicked off around 11 p.m. as I warmed up the early crowd with some James Brown & Jay-Z cuts. Heads began to fill in as DJ Aliyo jumped on the decks, chopping up a hip-hop acapella and 90s classics in between some X-ecutioner tracks. MC Protoman backed by DJ Rob Riggs was up next, as Proto hyped the standing room floor with a 20-minute mix of party vibes and wordplay that kept the flow of the night moving (instead of having deejay after deejay) and the $5 drink specials pouring.
At the end of Protoman's set, his DJ Rob Riggs (aka DJ Trippin) started going off on some sharp scratching that had the crowd in a trance and was quickly joined on the second turntable setup by Exotic E. Exotic, an original member of the X-Men crew from the early 90s, stayed true to form breaking out the vinyl and laying down some rapid fire cuts over 80s electro and breaks. Jaws were dropping, flamingos started flying around the club, females were jumping and it was only just after midnight.
Note to any marketing or clothing company working an event. You've got some competition with the parties co-sponsors Last Rights. Miami's upstart brand passed out pink flamingo replicas and a stack of fresh t-shirts and shorts straight out the Louis V bag. Plus they arrived with a limo-sized load of girls piloted by Mickey Munday of Cocaine Cowboys fame.
After Exotic, local video producers Mad Crazy Productions (who also filmed the night) showcased a short video of an exclusive Roc Raida performance taken from a DMC scratch demo that had the crowd racing to keep up with the man's quickness on his "Get Down/ Ninja of Rap" routine. Raida was truly a beast on the turntables.
DeeJay K-N-S then proceeded to say a few words about the first time he met Raida onstage at a Case concert, giving evidence to the fact that even with his tremendous skill, the man was a sincere and humble dude. K-N-S then went in and repped for Raida's New York hometown bringing back joints from CNN, Nas & Black Moon before giving way to DJ K-Razor.
Razor set it off with a lot of energy and some tight beat juggling, while paying respects to Roc Raida in his own way, duplicating Raida's "Marley Scratch" routine bar for bar. A sign of things to come.
The Mayday crew was in the house next, as MCs Wrekonize & Bernbiz were poppin' bottles and beer caps, rockin' for the first time in awhile without the band, as DJ I-Dee supported them on the 1200s. Same live result with hands and feet in the air as the "Junkyard Dog" sounded out over the Electric Pickle system before an impromptu freestyle session ensued with Skam2, Serum and others appearing out of the crowd to grab the mic. Hip-hop was in the building.
Scratch Academy presidente DJ Immortal then took his turn on the tables. Immortal showed how he earned the name with his Highlander & Street Fighter routines, but his tribute to Raida on Peter Piper, Sucker MCs & Ninja of Rap was one of the highlights; complete with 360 degree body tricks, record rewinds and stage presence a'la the Roc. Be on the lookout for the you-tube clips, that's all that needs to be said.
No introduction was needed for the next deejay, the night's host & organizer, ex-DMC/ Gong battle champ, I-Dee. Lightning fast on the cuts, he first showed off some of the repertoire with his high powered "Smells Like Teen Spirit" and "Killing in the Name of" routines, damn those are ill...and then it was Raida time. If you haven't seen Roc murdering "Going Back to Cali" or "Push It" before, search him out. Half speed, double-tempo, Raida flipped these songs seriously and that's what I-Dee replicated live to a loud ovation before DJ Immortal joined him on stage, as they took turns bringin' back the stab on LL Cool J's "Rock the Bells" until the needles were about to fall off.
Buckets were passed around, and the dollar bills kept coming in as the benefit raised a good chunk of change to go to Roc Raida's family. The funk continued as Champion Sound residents A-Train and I kept it moving till the late hours. It was great to see so many people come out and support the cause of this event.
Miami stand up and salute.
Personal Bias: Read that full disclosure at the beginning of the recap.
Random Detail: I spotted at least three different people wearing X-Men cartoon tees in the crowd.
By The Way: Make sure to check out Champion Sound every Wednesday, with events including a Fela Kuti tribute party, live performances from local bands Fusik and Ketchy Shuby, and an album release party for rapper Dynas planned for October alone.
-- Bernard Hacker / DJ Sire Esq.