DJ Next Interview (by Suspect)
My man Suspect recently had a chance to hook up with Mixtape specialist, DJ Next to chat about the release of his new mix cd, banishing bootleggers from Hiphop, and his influences as a DJ coming up. This is how it went down…
How did you came up with your name?
Next: Well actually the name “Next” was given to me by accident. Years ago, I was in a circle with some writers who all had their own street names or tag names and when i was asked what my name was I didn’t have one at the time. So I sorta brushed the question off by turning my head to the next person in the circle and saying “Uh… Next”. It was then someone said “Yeah… Next… DJ Next… that sounds fresh!” and it stuck with me ever since. Unfortunately, years later I had to share the name with popular R&B act “NEXT”. If they ever make a come back from falling off and want rights to the name… we can battle.
What was the moment you knew you wanted to get in the mixtape business?
Next: I’ve been making and selling mixtapes hand to hand on a local circuit since the early nineties for fun. In ’97 I met DJ Upperkut (Binary Star/ Rebel Alliance) who turned me onto selling mixtapes to stores. It was at that time it became a game to me seeing how many units I could sell. But it wasnt until ’98 when I first heard DJ Unknown’s “5 Days In A Cave”. This was the first time i heard a DJ who I could tell put a lot of thought and time into his finished product. It opened my mind to a new way of making mixtapes. That in turn inspired me to do “A Vibe Called Next” which was a 120 minute exclusive underground hiphop mixtape – my first professionally manufactured project. I had to sell my MPC2000 to get the loot to manufacture it and I knew i wanted that money back. It couldnt have come at a better time too because I had just lost my job, had no type of income and that’s when it became business.
How has your experience been since you got in the game?
Next: The Mixtape market is a small one and by all means no one over here is getting rich from it. Heads know I’ve put more money into hiphop then I’ll probally ever see back. Aside from the money I would have to say my experiences have been rather pleasant. From recording with some of my favorite established or well known indie artists to getting a good push and a lot of help from some of the same local heavyweights who are responsible for bringing attention to Boston. These are the people who paved the way in the first place and I wouldnt be doing what I’m doing now if it had not been for them. Its also been good in the sense I still have kids coming up to me at shows telling me “A Vibe Called Next” was the best mixtape they have ever heard or that they still bump it in their whip four years after the fact. I’m a pretty humble cat but knowing that I touched heads with my representations is what keeps me going.
What is your favorite mixtape/mixcd of all time?
Next: Thats a hard one… I have a few. Doowop’s “95 Live” would be at the top of the list near Tony Touch 50, Anything by Ron G (Hard pack), Spinbad’s “80’s tape #1”, DJ Upperkut & Stare’s #1, DJ Unknown’s “5 Days in a Cave”, DJ Mek’s “Finger Prince”, DJ Riz’s “In the Mix” (the Madonna feat. Method Man & Nas was a classic) & 7L’s “Old School Volume 4”.
What is your thought on bootleggers, and MP3’s hurting the mixtape game?
Next: When I’m making tapes I keep in mind someone is listening to this in a car or on a home entertainment system and thats what I base my sound on. If I wanted you to hear my mixtapes on MP3’s I would not only tailor-make my shit for that but I would set up a web site where you could go and pay me, the artist directly to hear my music. Its a good form of promotion but thats not always the intent. When fans burn cds from MP3’s a lot of starving artists dont get paid which in turn may frustrate that artist or financially criple them from further projects. What the fans who do this need to understand is – with no artists there is no music… so its important to support them by BUYING THEIR CD’S NOT BURNING THEM! As far as Bootlegging goes, my thoughts on that topic are rather simple. Refer to the 1993 Sony/Epic 12″ single release from the Hoodratz – “Bootleg and getcha leg broke, nigguh!”
Who do you look up to when it comes to putting together mixtapes?
Next: Ron G, Doowop, Primo and Tony Touch are like the roots for me and will always play a big role in my inspiration but nowadays I’m only checking for local cats doing this. I’m really into studying the way DJ Mek, Fakts 1, Seven L, Unknown, & DJ Juan Sense lace their tapes.
What separates you from the rest of the cats in the game?
Next: The way I put it all together. I still have a deep appreciation and love for the old fashioned way of making tapes. Unfortunately, most hiphop consumers won’t buy the standard of spinning new 12″s on two turntables , mixed and recorded to a cassette deck. Like Das, they want Efx. They want fresh music and concepts. There is only a handful of DJ’s who are not turntablists yet they still put a lot of hard work, effort and thought into making tapes/cds. Thats where I come in, hitting them with multiple concepts. Its like an exclusive compilation meets a mixtape with some goodies and treats thrown in the mix. A lot of it is sorta based around a Tony Touch or Funkmaster Flex live freestyle tape only, I don’t spin other people’s instrumentals under the emcee’s vocals. Its more of a production than that. I put a lot of thought and hard work into every single track right down to the original instrumentals. Its not just an early or unreleased track but a track made solely for my project. DJ’s get by calling that exclusives and that’s why i say im NEXtclusive. I also get a lot of Emcees, producers and DJ’s involved, and as opposed to the sucka DJ who would have a track stop and pause before the next track abruptly starts like a typical compilation I manage to keep it all blended like a continuous mixtape. The various elements I apply from intro to outro, cover art and everything in between give me my own distinct style. I like to structure my mixtapes as though they were a DJ Premier beat or a Phase2 burner. I want heads playing it and without looking at the label to just know its a DJ Next joint.
If you could describe your joint in one word that would be?
Where do you see the mixtape industry heading to?
Next: One turn I didn’t like taking was going from mixtapes to mix CD’s. The artform is shifting from cassettes to CD’s and being a DJ who came up in the ’80s, buying vinyl and cassettes was my only way to get new music. I was disgruntled when CD’s became popular because this was the time retail outlets starting doing away with vinyl and DJ’s weren’t having it… so I always have had an anti-CD view. Sadly, today most DJ’s are forced into having to make CD formats for profit because most stores, distribution companies and hiphop consumers won’t touch cassette tapes. More disappointingly, I’ve noticed that the rapid growth of technology made it easier for more people to jump on the bandwagon and do this, bypassing the years of learning experiance and paying dues. Much like the 12″ single market there is an over abundance of kids doing this. Fradulent DJ’s throwing together pause records/tapes/CD’s and putting it out on the market labelling them as “Best of such and such”, “X amount of verses from certain dead emcees” and “All Exclusives”. These phony gimmicks not only sell well and cock block hardworking DJ’s who have real product on the shelves but also mis-portray what a mixtape/CD is or should be. Its a chain reaction spreading like a virus, misinforming those who may not have followed this subculture from the beginning and inspiring more unaware kids to just throw a buncha wack shit together in a talentless fasion thinking that’s what a mixtape is. Be Alert!
Where can we find more info on you, and get your latest joint at?
Next: www.djnext.com does a very good job of keeping heads informed. There is always new DJ NEXTclusive audio you can listen to, and all my latest products are available there in the online store section. Most spots that carry mixtapes will have my products. If you can’t get it offline tell your local store to order it from Landspeed distro.
Thanks again to Next for taking part, and for Suspect for hooking this up.