meditations on wax:
an unorthodox disc jock's take on
life, music, and the wheels of steel

no, this is not me - it's dj fflood (my brother-in-beats, my friend, my hero), live @ liquids.

(originally published in ON THE VERGE v1.0 e-mail monthly - April 28, 1999)

i've got a dirty little secret. you want in on it or not? okay. here goes...


it was the fall of '93 when i bought a bargain basement Gemini turntable (its model has been discontinued). five and a half years later, it has been through many a mix tape and has lasted longer than many of my past "friendships." I'M NEVER GETTING RID OF IT. picked up a Gem Sound on New Year's of '95. recently, i gave it to a friend in need of a record player as a birthday present.

so, why would i spend money on decks that are considered to be the dregs of turntable society? probably the same reason that Prince Paul never threw out his age-old Casio synths - he works best with something that people consider to be outdated. i dressed them up with nice cartridges and Technics slipmats (that's on parallel with putting a $2,000 stereo system into your burnt out Pinto). it cracked me up the first time i looked at them. then, it all made sense. the story of my life sat before me: making due with what you have. i think i keep these tables around because they keep me humble.

Tech 12s nowadays have become the equivalent of wielding a rock guitar back in the day. there are headz out there that think that simply owning a pair of 1200s is going to make them the best DJ ever. it's ill how many people do not understand just how much goes into this. it's not just about matching beats, it's knowing what sounds good with what. nobody can teach you that. and if you've ever stood around a DJ's setup and talked their ear off while they're in the mix, you obviously don't understand the type of concentration that's needed to pull off a good set.

my list of important things in life goes like this: GOD, my family, my future wife and my music. music is sacred to me. it's a gift from GOD. and mad headz abuse music daily. sitting or standing on the dance floor when fat beats are blaring out of the system - ARE YOU CRAZY?!? or are you just high?

so, why did you come, anyway? did you come to get high off the music or through other means? if you didn't come for the music, then WHY ARE YOU HERE? this goes for the DJs out there, too. why did you get in this? to share your love for music with others or to blow up? do you spin to get money, women, men, fame? do you spin house because you love house music or because you think you'll get booked more if you do? do you spin R&B because you think women don't like a lot of hip-hop or scratchin' and cuttin'? what are your motives? very few people think about these things when they attend functions or get on the mix and it's detrimental to our universal rhythmic culture.

so, why am i in this? honestly, to stay sane. i spin so i don't have to kill anybody. when i titled my last tape therapy sessions, i meant that sincerely. music is the best therapy within the secular realm. and yes, i definitely want to share my love of music with others and expose people to stuff i come across that i think is cool (hence, ON THE VERGE), but there are days that i wonder if anyone's really listening. so, while it may sound selfish, ultimately it's for me. if someone else gets a kick out of it (hopefully), then hey, that's the bonus plan. i mean, my life just got super-sized, you know what i'm saying? happy meals for everybody, i'm buying.


for me, the most important element in my sets or my tapes is the selection. to tell the truth, skill comes in second with me (a close second, mind you). sure, the set should flow nicely, but i'm interested in what tracks someone has to spin. i go to a rave expecting the DJ to make me lose it on the dance floor. i have no idea what they're going to play. sometimes they don't either. but, guess what? THAT MAKES US EVEN, so let's have fun and take the trip together. so, it's all about selection with me. my personal definition of a DJ is a Dispatcher of Jams. and i'd like to believe that some like to hear me spin because of what i play, because i'll come with some records that very few others have.

when i spun in Albany on a regular basis, i was in the fortunate position of bringing a totally different flavor to the capital district. i was the resident jazzhole and abstract cat, so i played a lot of downtempo and midtempo material, keeping things funky and soulful. but i like jungle as well, and my drum 'n' bass sets can range from the chilled out to the bugged out. i never thought it strange or wrong to spin all different types of stuff. why not? yeah, i know, makes it harder to people to pigeonhole me...and i've got nothing but Alka-Seltzer tablets for the pigeonholers, okay?

and while i can rock a main room if need be, i'd rather be in the chill-out room or lounge. gives me more room to stretch out and tell a story. i LOVE spinning lounges. just fits with my personality, i guess.

and that's really it. a space negro till revelation. i am that rhythmic geriatric in spastic fits under disco balls, strictly on a natural high though some still think otherwise. and while a few of my rave brethren have already labeled my brown-shaded self as being strictly hip-hop before getting a chance to know me, i'll be behind the crossfader, spinning some ill stuff just to see that look on your face. a wax-wielding maniac wearing a shirt and tie by day, living a double life and locked in an emotional/mental paradox over my secular life source. and did i mention that i think i'd rather fall off than blow up?

what the hey? put it on 45. let's do this.

{jason randall smith}

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