DJ EFN | CEO | DJ | Journalist | Legend
The mixtape culture has evolved from it being an anomaly during the 1980's and 1990's. How did you enter into the world of DJing and mixtapes?
Starting out, I knew I wanted to be a DJ because I looked up to guys like Terminator X, Dr. Dre, DJ Yella, Jam Master Jay, and DJ Jazzy Jeff. I didn't have money for turntables, so it took me a while to get to the point where I could get some turntables. I started my crew, Crazy Hood Productions, the year I graduated from high school in 1993. We used to throw parties a lot, and that turned into us throwing parties at clubs, organizing shows, and managing artists. I even had a clothing store called "Crazy Goods" in Miami. With everything that we did, we tried to push hip-hop from Miami to the masses. But what really helped me make my mark as an individual was my mixtapes that I was creating at the time.
With the mixtapes that I was putting out, I became one of the first consistent mixtape DJ's out of the South, more so South Florida. I was inspired by the various mixtape DJ's that were coming out of New York such as, Tony Touch, DJ Clue, SNS, Kid Capri, etc. At that time, New York was heavy in the mixtape game. I'm pretty sure that there were cats on the West Coast who were putting mixtapes out too, but we would get a lot of mixtapes from New York because guys used to come down all the time. And although I loved those mixtapes, all those DJ's did was rep New York. So while we're in Miami, all we hear is guys shouting out Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx, etc. This is why I wanted to put out mixtapes at a consistent rate. I wanted to make sure I was providing that type of work to Miami and the South.
When did you first meet Noreaga?
We tend to have different memories of when we met which we call, Drunk Facts! But I would say 1997 because I met him at my store, which I opened that same year. During that time, he was on a promo tour for the CNN album. Capone was locked up, which meant that Nore was doing the promo run by himself. In those days, people weren't promoting on the internet. You had to physically promote it, so record labels would take the artists to retail stories and they would do in-stores in order to get the word out. Nore's promoter, who was a friend of mine, brought Nore to my store. We ended up hitting it off, and he actually kicked two or three freestyles, which I recorded on this four-track that I recently bought. In 2005, he ended up moving down to Miami and working out of my studio, and he's been down here ever since.
What has been your favorite Drink Champs episode to conduct?
My favorite one is 50 cent. Personally, I really was expecting him to be a little defensive and serious. I didn't know if it was going to be a fun one or not. He obviously did research on us before he came on the show because once he arrived, he gave a hell of an interview. What's genius about the entire situation was the fact that 50 doesn't drink! So for him to drink his own product on our show was the craziest thing ever. It was a super fun episode man.
Say if a young person wanted to pursue a career in Hip-Hop and Entertainment. What would three episodes you tell him or her to watch for educational purposes?
That's tough to say because each episode has a jewel can apply to everybody who wants to pursue this as a career. I would say the Dame Dash one is really good. I really liked the Run The Jewels episode as well because of the different angle that they took. The Lyor Cohen one was interesting as well. Truly, if there's any artist that someone likes more than any other one, I would recommend that they go to that episode and they will find things that can apply to their career.
Hip-Hop is now a universal culture which people from different parts of the world can relate to and enjoy. How did you develop the Coming Home series, which airs on Revolt TV? I know you've traveled to Cuba, Peru, Haiti, and most recently, Vietnam and Columbia.
For the Cuba film, I actually did that one outside of the Revolt platform. I didn't even think about doing the film as something serious. I just looked at it as me doing an amateur film for friends and family to watch. The reason why I named the series, "Coming Home," is because, as a Cuban-American, I'd never gone to Cuba, which is my parent's homeland. At one point in my life, I decided that I needed to go, but it was definitely something taboo amongst the community because this is before Obama opened s— up. So when I finally decided to go, I had a friend who was telling me about these incredible Hip-Hop artists in Cuba, and then I saw a documentary about Cuban Hip-Hop so that spearheaded the idea of me wanting to document the trip, which was done by my artist Garcia. We were going to keep it for ourselves, but once I did a screening at a local music theater, people loved the film for what it represented. Now, of course, the film could always be better, but the heart of the film is what drew people in. This is what also inspired me to document others areas of Hip-Hop culture in different parts of the world. The "Coming Home" Cuba documentary was actually the first film acquisition that Revolt did when they launched in 2013. Right now, we're aggressively shopping the series right now and we'll be visiting more countries in the near future.