It wasn't long ago that DJ Drastic X turned his "It's All Gravy" show on FIU's WRGP Radiate FM into the vehicle by which artists like Pitbull, Rick Ross, Flo Rida, and DJ Khaled saw some of their first college radio airplay.
And today, he continues to break new ground with Phish vs. Hip Hop (Phish-Hop), a mashup mixtape combining beats that he made from samples of the world-famous jam band with some of rap music's greatest verses, meanest cuts, and most notorious drops.
Drastic says Phish is "one of the greatest bands of all time." And here's what he had to say about making the album.
Crossfade: How'd it all come about?
DJ Drastic X: I was with some friends about six or seven years ago, listening to some music, some of their favorite jams. I was looking for things to sample and they're like, "Yo, check out some of these Phish CDs." I knew the band from high school. My friends were hardcore Phish Heads. We threw on some CDs and I remember being like, "Wow, I can't believe they have so many great tunes that nobody has really sampled." I took the CD home, made some beats, and they came out incredible. So I made more and more beats, and then I went to my record collection and pulled some a-capellas to hear how they would sound with some rappers over it. When I played 'em, it was like nothing I'd ever heard before. and it kind of took off from there.
And this is a project you spent years on, right?
Yeah, I would just do it for fun, little by little, never knowing that I was gonna put it out like this. It wasn't a priority. But after a while, it was like, "I gotta do this."
How much material did you accumulate over all that time?
I actually messed around with like 45 songs -- not all complete, not 45 full beats. But I went through Phish CD after Phish CD. I bought them all. And then after doing like 40 ideas, I minimized it to the 15 or 20. I just chose the best ones.
You definitely got the New York and the West Coast rappers, but also the Miami artists too.
I show a lot of love to the Miami legends. It's really Miami artists more than anything. Just gotta show love to home team. I got Trick Daddy, Rick Ross, Trina, JT Money, 2 Live Crew. I couldn't use every single rapper from everywhere, but those are the ones that felt right. I got local guys like Ghostwridah on there too. Showin' love to Miami was a priority. I needed to represent my city.
What else you workin' on these days?
I still do guest sets for Radiate FM, WRGP, FIU Radio, which I've been doing for more than a decade. I do online radio sets at thestreetsfm.com. And I also been producing and making that fiyah. I got some new projects in the works. And I also private DJ gigs. I keep myself busy.
What do you say to hip-hop fans who have never heard Phish before?
Get ready to experience something new. You gotta check 'em out. Some of the stuff they do live is just incredible. I think they're one of the greatest bands in history. You gotta pick up a Phish CD.
See also: Ten Best Miami Rap Anthems Ever
You ever seen Phish play?
I never seen 'em play live, but I've seen all their videos. All their live shows. I'm really familiar. The next time they're in the area, I'm there. I'm definitely going to all three days.
Have you had any response from anybody on the album?
That would be a great honor if they heard it and responded! That was not my expectation. These artists and Phish are so big, it might take a while for them to hear it. I just want to show that you can take two kinds of completely different music and make it work with a little creativity. And if it didn't work, I could say I tried.
What can you say about the combination?
The hip-hop people are exposed to Phish. And the Phish people are exposed to hip-hop. And the two worlds meet. And it's good.
What kind of reaction have you gotten so far?
I've got a lot of great reaction online. My Twitter feeds and my email blew up with a lot of people. The energy is really positive. A lot of Phish fans are featuring it and telling people to check it out.
How did you get started originally?
I was in high school and one of my first experiences was at a high school party. DJ Hans, I think was his name. I asked him if I could look through his records. At the time, I was a collector of everything Bad Boy put out. I had all their CDs, all their singles. I came across a Biggie "One More Chance" remix, and I begged this guy to sell it to me so I could complete my collection. And he did! I had to go out and get a turntable to play it. Then I needed a mixer. And then after high school I got into FIU's WRGP Radiate FM. And that's when I really developed into wanting to be a DJ and producer. I interviewed Pitbull, and Rick Ross, Flo Rida, Akon, and it all started there.
And they were just like little guys back then, right?
Well, Pitbull and Ross, they had been working hard for years, making a name for themselves. But they really respected the college radio scene and they always came through. And they're huge now, but even after they blew up, they would still do phone interviews and everything. It's amazing that I was able to experience that. I even got to produce some records for Ross, and also Pretty Ricky. It's been a great ride.
— DJ Drastic X (@djdrasticx) June 1, 2014
What have you produced?
For Pretty Ricky, I remember we did "Hey Girl," with Jim Jonsin. And for Ross, I did some mixtape tracks called "Touchin Traps" and "I Wanna Talk To You."
What you gonna do next?
Just produce more projects, more mashups, more radio features, and more guest mixes. I did a lot of hip-hop before, and that's always number one in my heart, but I also wanna expand into other things, be more open format, and show more appreciation for all types of music.
How'd you get Krave on the cover artwork?
Aaah, Krave, man. So glad to have gotten with him on this. I know Krave through a friend, met him a couple of times, and I have really respected his work for many years. I went to him, sat with him, showed him the idea, let him hear the music, and it was all love. He's such a talented artist, and on top of that, in my opinion, he's one of the best graffiti artists in Miami. To have him on the cover is amazing. I really appreciate Krave for what he did.
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Any final shout outs to the people out there?
Thanks for listening and shout to everyone who supports my music. Shout out to DJ Obscene, he actually has track doing some nasty cuts, some really ill cuts, like Primo-, DJ Premier-style cuts. Shout out to my boys who lit a fire under my ass to get this done and who inspired me. Shout to Phish and all the artists. Shout out to my boy Brian of Boomzini Hit Crew who helped me a lot with this project. And shout out to Judah, one of my homeboys who I was kickin' it with, listening to Phish music when this all started.
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