He’s shared the stage with the Beastie Boys, DJ Jazzy Jeff, DJ Premier, Ice-T, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Snoop Dogg. Uneasy Listening Volume 1, his collaborative effort with DJ Z-Trip, was named as one of the “Top Musical Moments” in 2002 by Rolling Stone magazine, two years after its release. He currently holds it down weekly with his residency at Club Moon/Playboy Club in the legendary Palms Casino. As if all of that weren’t enough, dude can also break dance with the best of them & 2006 would see him become an official member of the legendary Rock Steady Crew. He is DJ P, a Springfield, Missouri native with a biting since of humor and untouchable skills on the 1’s and 2’s.
Always looking to put others on to the illest DJ’s in the game, TSS’s DJ Sorce-1 was able to chop it up with the legendary DJ about everything from pirate radio to his current musical concoctions. He was also able to get some exclusive new audio from P – the A and B side’s to his new limited edition 12″. So download the audio, marinate in P’s knowledge, and respect our fresh as TSS brings you a brand new Smoking Session with The Rhinestone B-Boy, DJ P.
TSS: First off, I just wanted to say that Uneasy Listening Volume 1 was a huge album for me. I’m a DJ too, so that was a big one.
DJ P: Yeah that thing made some noise for sure. We didn’t think it would, but it did. (Laughs.)
TSS: Do you want to talk about that for a little bit? I just think it’s interesting that when you and Z-Trip did it, you didn’t even press up that many copies. You only pressed up like 1000 copies, right? It just kind of took off on its own.
DJ P: You’ve got a lot of bootlegs out there, but there were 1,000 original copies. There were bootleg copies that came out that said they were made in England, which could have been bullshit. I know there were some distributors here in the US that got a hold of Uneasy Listening. They pressed their own copies, and they came out sounding like shit. But in terms of official copies there were only 1,000 originally.
TSS: And those were all CD exclusively, right?
DJ P: Yeah. When we first did Uneasy Listening Vol. 1, it was CD only. And then right around the time we did the lives shows in California, we pressed it on double wax.
TSS: How many of the official copies did you press up on vinyl?
DJ P: 2,000.
TSS: So 3,000 total original pressings?
DJ P: Yeah, unless Z-Trip pressed up some more that I don’t know about.
TSS: That’s amazing man. People that have never heard a mix tape in their life have heard that tape. It transcended some real boundaries musically with its audience. It brought in a whole new group of people to the world of mix tapes.
DJ P: Yeahâ€¦yeah it did. That was a style of mixing that I was messing around with in the mid 80’s. I grew up in Springfield, Missouri. There were two DJs in Springfield, Juan Alexander and Thomas Haynes, who were using that style of mixing all the way back then. They were mixing “Posse On Broadway” with Expose’s “Seasons Change.” That was one of the first blends I’d heard that sounded like that. Juan was the guy that was really doing it; he would mix MC Shy-D with The Human League. There are all these other people that were doing it before I was, Z-Trip or whoever. I think there are a lot of DJs out there all over the world that nobody knows about who used to play around in the 80’s and do what they’re calling a mash-up now.
TSS: And they just weren’t getting the exposure for whatever reason.
DJ P: Exactly. It’s such an underground art form, you can’t really say who created anything. I didn’t create the whole thing. Z-Trip didn’t either. He and I just happened to put it on the map and make it popular by putting out Uneasy Listening.
DJ P: I will say that. I will say we pioneered it. But we didn’t create it. We weren’t the first people to ever do it. There are a lot of creative DJs out there that probably did a lot of blends like that. We just don’t know about them. Maybe they didn’t have the balls to do it. It did take some ball man, to get up in front of a crowd and drop Pat Benetar and The Pharcyde. All these hip-hop heads were going, “What the fuck is this?” when I first started doing that. A lot of people don’t realize; music is music. What is hip-hop? Well it’s a sample from a lot of funk, soul, and jazz records. Or hell, even rock records.
It’s like Run-DMC and Aerosmith. It’s nothing really new. Basically Z-Trip and I just ended up doing it live. It was like, “check this out, we’re gonna mix this shit in front of you live. We’re going to take one record on this side, and one record on the other. We’re gonna make hip-hop rock and rock hip-hop.” And to me that was the dopest feeling in the world. I’d sit in my room and be playing around with all these records. I would end up mixing Howard Jones over a Funkmaster Flex beat.
Now it’s kind of like, “eh, whatever.” So many people have jumped on the bandwagon, and bitten mixes, and they’re doing it on computers now. To me, it’s just not cool anymore, as much as I hate to say it. It’s something that I’ll always love to do but to go in front of a crowd and do it now; it’s not cool because all these dudes on laptop computers have kind of killed it. And the crowds don’t know the difference. They’ve heard it now and its been done. Now, it’s kind of played out if you ask me. I still love doing it cause that’s my style, but who knows where it’s going now.
TSS: I found out recently that you used to be involved in pirate radio. Can you talk about that a little bit?
DJ P: This was back in 99/2000, and there was an article about my show in Gear magazine, how I had taken over the airwaves. I was running 60 watts out of a building in downtown Springfield, Missouri. Someone called the FCC and they came to try to find me. The funny thing is that my antenna was sending off a signal that was sending them in a loop. They couldn’t actually pinpoint it. So they had to go back to Kansas City because they couldn’t find me.
When I got the phone call that they were looking for me I was in Miami for the Winter Music Conference. I had somebody run up and shut the equipment off because I had it on autopilot. I had other DJs that would do heavy metal and rock shows late at night. I let all kinds of people go up there and do their thing. Finally this girl who knew me opened up her mouth and she told her boss that worked the college radio station. They called the FCC and told them where I was. So the guy that was doing the metal show at six o’clock in the evening got busted.
TSS: Did he get arrested?
DJ P: No. They asked him who the equipment belonged to and he told them he didn’t know. I had an office space up there in the building and it was empty. I would bring my crates up there, and the equipment was already up there. They took pictures of my mail, pictures of my room and pictures of the equipment. The lady at the office front desk told them it was Danny Phillips room. So I just turned myself in and called them up.
I said, “I’m the man you’re looking for.”
The guy at the FCC said, “This is Danny?”
I said, “Yeah.”
He said, “Basically I gotta ask my boss and see if were gonna fine you.”
I said, “Well how much is a fine?” even though I already knew.
He said, “$100,000.”
I said, “Well, you know I’m not gonna be able to pay that.”
He said, “Well, would you be willing to give us your equipment as a warning?”
I said, “Which equipment?”
He said, “Just the amplifier that amplifies the transmitter and the actual transmitter.”
I said, “Sure”
So I just sent it to â€˜em. And I waited like a week or two. I get a message that I recorded that goes “This is so and so from the FCC. We still haven’t received that equipment yet blah blah blah.” It’s pretty funny. The way I see it, I spent 1500 bucks and took over the airwaves for two and half years. Fuck it; I’ll give that equipment away so I don’t have to pay a $100,000 fine. What am I gonna do, tell them no? So I waited a week, got a funny phone call, recorded it and then sent them the equipment. I never heard from them again.
My friend got busted first who was doing 20 watts out of his house. All they did was slap him on the wrist and told him not to do it again. So I was like, “Ok, lets go.” I got off the MTV tour and got this dude in California to build me a transmitter. They were like $1500. These were 60 watts so you’re covered everywhere. I had the antenna way up high on this building because I rented an office space on the top floor. It was dope. I was playing all kinds of crazy shit on there.
TSS: That’s great. And this was recently, like a couple of years ago?
DJ P: No, I was doing that in like 99 and 2000. So it was about seven years ago.
TSS: That’s so cool. It’s great you got to be a part of something like pirate radio.
DJ P: It put chills down my back to be able to flip a switch in there and know that my shit was airing all over town. I was playing prank phone calls; I was playing shit that was cussing. We’re talking like middle of the day. I just played whatever the fuck I wanted. It made the newspaper and everything. I had to shut it off for a month at one point. And then I turned it right back on and got busted a week later.
TSS: That must have been a liberating feeling, to play whatever you want on the radio. It’s a little bit easier to do that now with satellite radio and Internet radio stations, but years ago it was basically FM and AM radio. The only way to really get away with stuff like that was pirate radio.
DJ P: I think it’s doper to do it on pirate radio. Internet and all that’s cool, but to me, there’s something about the rawness of pirate radio. To put an antenna up, and flip an actual switch, and know that people are tuning into it in their cars driving. That’s a dope feeling.
TSS: Lets talk a little bit about your roots. A lot of big DJs come out of Philadelphia, NYC, LA and the Bay Area. But you don’t really hear about many big DJ’s with the geographic background that you have. You’ve lived in Springfield Missouri for a while, you’ve lived in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and now you’re living in Las Vegas. How do you think where you’ve lived has influenced the way you DJ? Do you think there is any correlation?
DJ P: If you go back to ’83 and ’84 when break dancing started to take over, I grew up in one of the rougher neighborhoods in Springfield, Missouri. There were a lot of black and rough white people in my neighborhood. Hip-hop was really big in the neighborhood culture. I would be in my back yard shooting baskets and two blocks away I could hear all this funk and soul being played really loud late at night.
When breaking came out, all the kids in the neighborhood started breaking. And man I was all about that. I think breaking and early hip-hop culture was in every little small town all over the world at that particular time, know what I mean? It was something that was brought to the masses, and everyone had jumped on it. Music was good. You had electronic music coming in like “Jam on It” by Nucleus and “Rock It” by Herbie Hancock. It was what was going on at that time, and what was being presented to me. Breaking then was as exciting as a kid now wanting to learn how to skateboard.
I wanted to learn how to do the windmill with no hands, which we called The Hershey back there. Everybody has there own names. If you could do that you were the man back then. I was feeling the music, and I was feeling the love of dancing. I knew it turned on all the girls. (Laughs)
TSS: That’s always a good reason. (Laughs)
DJ P: Seriously though, it wasn’t even really that. It was the whole thing of loving music and dancing. It was such a high to spin on my back. At the time I was playing drums, so I had a natural sense of rhythm. Later on in life the turntable thing came in, because there were guys mixing in my neighborhood. Like I said all that culture was just going on at that time: turntables and dancing.
And I’m talking about other communities too in places like Iowa. I think a lot of people on the east and west coast think they were the only ones doing it, but it leaked out everywhere. There are people all over the United States that are as talented as I am. And they came out of small areas. You’ve got people out of Kansas City; you’ve got people out of St. Louis that were dope DJs, breakers and MC’s. Look at Mac Lethal. He’s out of Kansas City, and he’s doing well. He’s signed with Rhymesayers. I consider Kansas City one of my homes, that’s where I got my start with DMC in ’98.
St. Louis was the first place that played Rapper’s Delight on the radio. Not New York, not California. The first place was St. Louis, Missouri. There’s a big black community, and a lot of cultured people. Even in Kansas City, that’s where we got a lot of our music. This dude Juan would drive to Kansas City, buy all these crazy records, and make mix tapes. It took a DJ like Juan to put us on to Run DMC, Man Parrish, and Joeski Love and know to buy the records. It’s all about who you’re around, who influences you and who has this stuff. And it’s everywhere, not just east and west coast. That stuff leaked out everywhere.
TSS: That’s really interesting to hear. I think we’re touching on something important. Your perspective is a unique one; I’ve never really interviewed anyone who has grown up where did.
DJ P: It was a tough though. A lot of the white kids, and when I say white kids I’m talking rednecks, that didn’t understand it. I had a lot of problems with kids being racial with me by saying stuff like, “Oh, Danny thinks he’s black.” There were other white kids too that had to catch that heat because we were break dancing. And the kids that were good at it, the other white kids wanted to fight us and beat us up. They were jealous we were getting attention.
A lot of the heavy metal kids didn’t understand it, and they were racial. Even some black kids would give me problems like, “Who does this white kid think he is?” Living in that area, a lot of people are close-minded to culture. I can definitely tell you that. Me, I didn’t see that. All I saw is what made me feel good, and how I felt about music and dancing.
It wasn’t easy growing up in a small area like that. I’m sure there are kids all over that went through the same thing. If I had been in New York like Mr. Freeze, my manager, who’s white, it would have been easier to be accepted. People are a little bit more open-minded. They don’t see a color with music and dancing. People put a race on music where I’m from. They put a race on dancing. They think it’s a black thing, or a Hispanic thing, or a white thing. Kool Herc couldn’t have put it better when he said “You cannot put a race on music.” He said it in the documentary “The Freshest Kids.”
TSS: If there were one artist or group of any genre that you could choose and get unlimited accapellas to remix a bunch of their stuff, who would it be? .
DJ P: I could tell you that right off the bat. I’ve wanted to do this for so long. If I had the accapellas and the drums and the guitars and all that by itself, this is who I’d do. Kiss.
TSS: For real?
DJ P: Yup. I’d do anything to get a hold of accapellas, instrumentals, and the masters of all the Kiss songs like “Parasite,” “Cold Gin,” “Hotter Than Hell,” and “Firehouse.” I’d wanna do a megamix. And I still plan on it. But I’m gonna have to use a computer. There’s no way in hell I’d be able to do what I want to do with just turntables and a mixer. I basically want to do a big mega mix of Kiss where I throw drum breaks and b-boy anthems underneath their stuff.
TSS: You should do it even if you have to use a computer.
DJ P: Oh yeah. It’s coming down to the point where I’m going to start using a computer at shows because nobody gets it anyway. The people down on the floor dancing don’t know the difference. Not to mention names, but I saw one DJ live who had a CDJ on his left side and a turntable on the right. He pushed play on the CDJ. That was his mix. His whole mix was prerecorded on CD. Then he had a stack of records he had in order to go with the pre-recorded mix to add in scratches or effects. And the crowd went crazy. I just thought, “Why am I busting my ass up here? This guy already has it prerecorded, he’s just adding in scratches.”
I’m ready to just get my shit, and start trying to produce. I’m gonna get an I-Mac, set up a whole studio, and I’m gonna start figuring something out man. DJing, for meâ€¦I’ve just been doing this shit for way too long man. Not that I’ve been doing it too long, it’s just that what I do, and what put me on the map, is being done by other people, and being done fifty times better because the guy has a laptop. He can pull off more shit.
TSS: Yeah. What do you think about programs like Serato being used by more and more DJ’s in their live sets?
DJ P: I still lug four crates of records around with me. I don’t even own Serato. It’s just not something that’s inside me to do. But at the same time, I’m not gonna have a choice real soon when it comes to staying current with mainstream. And who wants to own most of that mainstream shit on vinyl anyway? That’s one of the cool things about Serato. You don’t have to own “Buy You a Drink” on wax, because you have the MP3 of it. Seratoâ€¦I don’t diss it. I think in some ways it’s a good thing. I think its put a dent in the art form, but I know a lot of people who have gone to it. Hell, I found out the other day that Z-Trip is going to it. DJ Premier called me the other day. He was very anti-Serato at one point. He was like, “You know what P, you’ve gotta get Serato.”
TSS: What’s your gut reaction when you hear that Z-Trip and Premier are using it? These are guys that are known for bringing records to their live gigs. I’ve seen both of them live, and they’re known for having crates on stage.
DJ P: Yeah, I think its just come to the point where you look at it, and it’s like, “You know what, I’ve paid my dues, I’m sick of lugging all these records, I can conserve records, and people don’t get it anyway.” That’s where I have a problem. I know how I’m comfortable playing music. I like to see the records. I put stickers on my records. I just feel like I would be uncomfortable staring at a laptop computer and not flippin’ those fucking records man. It scares me. I don’t know if I’m gonna like it. But I’m afraid I’m gonna like it, because everybody is starting to like it. Premier loves it. Z-Trip’s doin’ it. I see all these people that I look up to as DJ’s using it and liking it.
I’ll never stop digging for records, but people do have a point. There comes a time where you’ve paid your dues. Premier couldn’t have said it any better. He said, “The only way people should own Serato is if they paid their dues.” I agree with that. If you’re a real DJ, you ain’t gonna sell your records.
TSS: It’s depressing how many guys are parting with their whole collection. There is something to be said for owning an actual record with the cover art and everything.
DJ P: Unless something changes in my heart years from now, I’ll have most of my records when I die. That’s just the way it is. I have records from grade school and junior high that I remember a kid handing me on the bus. I can drop the needle on that same pressing right now and hear the crackles in it, and it puts chills down my back. It makes me remember that time; it’s the same exact fucking record that was handed to me on the school bus years ago. That whole culture means something to me. It’s spiritual, and it’s deep.
TSS: So I have to ask you, will you and Z-Trip ever collaborate on anything again?
DJ P: Never.
TSS: So there will never be another project between you two?
DJ P: Nope, it’s done. We’ll never do another thing again.
TSS: Why do you say that?
DJ P: Well, here’s one reason why. A lot more people have jumped up on the style of mixing we used on Uneasy Listening Volume 1. We don’t even care to put out a part two. It’s been done. Our album hit a lot of people with a brick. But we’re leaving it alone now because so many people jumped on that style.
TSS: Have you ever thought of doing something else besides an Uneasy Listening-style tape?
DJ P: With him? You mean Z-Trip.
TSS: Yeah, just something that was a more standard rap mix tape.
DJ P: We talked about doing a hip-hop tape together a long time ago. To be honest with you man, it’ll never happen. We just don’t see eye to eye like we used to. He went his way, and I went mine. I haven’t talked to Z-Trip in probably a year if you want to know the truth.
DJ P: Yeah. A lot of people don’t know that. I just basically did what he did. I moved on. If run into Z-Trip on the street I’m cool with him. We just see things differently then we did back in the day. That’s all. It’s nothing against him; it’s nothing against me. My interests have changed, just like his probably have. I’ve found that it’s best to just work alone, doing my own thing. Right now I’m doing a best of CD. I’m taking all the blends I did off of Uneasy Listening, and all the blends I did off of my other CD’s. I’ calling it DJ P’s big adventure. I’m chopping up the Pee Wee Herman’s Big Adventure movie and using the dialogue. I’m putting all my stuff on one CD. It might be two CD’s, but I know it’ll be double vinyl.
TSS: P I’m gonna ask you one more question and then let you go. It sounds like you’re pretty much working on your own stuff now. If a DJ who you were a fan of approached you about making a tape, would you do it?
DJ P: I would totally do it. I work with people that want to work with me. I don’t believe in being higher or bigger than the other guy. If we can figure out a way to make it work together, that’s when I’m down to do some shit. Hey man, I gotta run. It was good talking to you.
TSS: Yeah, most definitely. Good luck with the new tape. Peace.
Special Offerings From DJ P….
What we have here is something unique. Both Sides A & B of DJ P’s new 12″ available for the first time for download.