DJ Craze needs no introduction: Miami's three-time DMC solo champ is an effin’ boss. So much so, he almost named his latest Baby Gurl EP after his track, “Bow Down,” featuring the 305 Mayor, Trick Daddy.
“That was the original name, but we didn’t turn in the paperwork on time and the track with TroyBoi, ‘Baby Gurl,' was blowing up,” Craze explains. “So it just made sense to call the EP Baby Gurl. Besides, the cover is pink — ‘Bow Down’ and pink just don’t go together.”
The DJ’s first solo EP since 2008 actually dropped a couple of weeks ago. But tonight, the Slow Roast Records label head will be partying it up at Rec Room on South Beach in celebration of all things BG. With beats that fuse elements of moombahton, reggae, drum ’n’ bass, trap, and Miami bass, the five-track release is 305 all the way, just like Craze himself.
“I’m a Miami dude,” Craze proclaims. “Everything I do is Miami-related ‘cause I just love it. I’m always reppin’ my city.”
The DJ-producer loves his city so much, he says, that every track he creates is an attempt to capture Miami’s essence by mining its cultural and musical history.
“People like to party here,” he points out, hinting at the core identity of the Magic City. “Over the years, that’s always been the thing. It’s a vacation spot. It’s tropical and very dance-oriented. I grew up on freestyle and Miami bass, and I didn’t really know what hip-hop was until the mid ‘90s. It’s always been a party vibe, from the Miami bass days to even the moombahton days to now.”
Over the last couple of decades, Miami’s sound may have evolved, but Dade County’s party rep has remained intact, much like Craze’s own party-starting reputation, which isn’t any less rock solid today, even after 15 years on the scene.
“I think I’ve evolved with the times. Well, hopefully,” he laughs. “I’m a DJ first. My ear is always out to what’s new and I love that shit ‘cause I get bored too. I move with music.”
Craze may be figuratively speaking when he says “I move with music,” but when he’s in the booth, homeboy actually does move with the music. Anyone who’s seen the DJ live in the club or watched his “New Slaves Routine” music video knows the extent of the acrobatics involved in laying down his mixes. This world champ is living proof that DJs aren’t, as he says, “professional iPod controllers;” they are hard-working musicians and talented performers.
“The whole DJ culture is under-appreciated for the skill level,” Craze insists. “But DJs have become very generic. The video was like boom, self-explanatory. I didn’t have to say a word. The whole point was to show people the other side of DJing they don’t see any more — the whole art of it and b-boy aspect of it.”
That’s not to say the video wasn't met with its fair share of criticism from the world of mainstream uhntz-uhntz.
“People think that I’m on this EDM-bashing journey to stop electronic music, and I’m not,” he says. “I hate to sound like a hater, but the whole DJ culture is corny: Pauly D, Paris Hilton, the people in the video. Now it’s all about being a cheerleader and marketing yourself. It’s about everything that has nothing to do with music.”
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Sure, the new status quo can be a nuisance for real DJs. But Craze is glad to fight back by continuing to rep his city, his culture, his craft.
“It ain’t about just putting your hands up and dancing. It’s about substance and being a skillful mixer. I’ve had somebody call me a button pusher before, but I just laugh at them. That’s when the Kanye comes out.”
DJ Craze's Baby Gurl EP Release Party. 11 p.m. Friday, May 15, at Rec Room, 1690 Collins Ave., Miami Beach; 786-975-2555; galehotel.com/nightlife. Admission is free. Ages 21 and up.