Grammy Nomination for Delaware's DJ Slice

DJ Slice says commitment needed in Delaware

Originally Published in The News Journal

How many DJs in Delaware do you know who have held multiple turntable battle titles, worked on Top 40 hit records, toured nationally with Outkast plus Luke Skywalker of 2 Live Crew, and been nominated for a Grammy?

There is only one answer: DJ Slice. Today Slice checks in to discuss the Grammy nomination for his latest project with the mysterious NYOil (who is rumored to be Kool Kim of the UMC's) and recall the dawn of the Delaware Hip-hop scene.

Let's discuss the early days of the Delaware hip-hop scene as you experienced it.

I actually feel like the scene thrived more back in the '80s because nobody was really trying to sound like anyone else. Cats were more determined to say that their style was better than yours. Mix tapes were done live at parties on cassettes by actual DJs who could really cut, and their reputations were built on that, such as Jazzy Jeff & Cash Money.

A battle could happen at anytime during a party, which meant B-Boys, DJs and MCs could go at it and the crowd would go crazy. Going into the studio really meant something back then. It meant that you had paid a ton of dues to get your craft/skills that far.

The mix tapes I made back then and battles, whether they were live at a party or organized, helped to shape my appreciation for the art form and the scene here in Delaware. That was when I was a teenager.

Another fact that folks don't realize is that Delaware and Philly hip-hop acts were very closely linked together in a lot of situations, but because we are "lil old Delaware," we never really got props from mainstream national media. It's still like this today. I miss WMPH 91.7 so much because they were the one station here back then that gave local acts a shot to get their music heard.

Back in the '80s, who were the folks in the Delaware scene making it happen?

Wow! There were so many, Disco Beave, Kenny G, Lightening Lee, DJ Robski, DJ Slate, Cutwiz & Doc D, The Killer Boys, Grand G, Cage 1/Hip Hop Connection, Fred G, DJ Rush, Jazzy T, Cutmaster B & Fran Mello The Mistress, Yorky D, and I am sure to be leaving people out, but there are too many to name.

You were a breaker first?

Yes. I actually picked up dancing from my sister Theresa, but took a knack to pop locking after watching Rerun from "What's Happening."

You've told me that Grandmaster Flash inspired you to DJ, but what inspired you to produce and create music?

Marley Marl and Kurtis Mantronik were probably two of my biggest influences back then. The biggest thing though was having the illest record collection with breaks that were hard to find, that made producing intriguing to me.

How important has publishing been in your career?

It gives me total control over not only my music, but music that I produce for others as well, meaning I know what shares I am supposed to get out of those songs.

How did you hook up with NYOil?

We hooked up on Myspace after I got a bulletin saying to check out his skills.

The major track off his new release has been "Y'all should all get lynched," how did you contribute to that success?

I heard the song in his Myspace player over a beat that he had made himself with rough vocals cut. I asked him if I could remix the song as I liked what the song said and how it made me feel. He sent me the vocals then I rearranged it and put a new beat underneath. When he heard it, he was like, "Wow!" Two days later he and his wife drove down from Staten Island to my studio in Newark to recut the vocal performance. I mixed it again with the new vocals, he did the infamous video, and "Flame on!"

And now your version of that song has a Grammy nomination?

Yes, for Song of the Year, and not that is not saying just "Best Rap Song" that's best song of the year, period. The song was also nominated for Best Rap Solo. The final ballot is voted on in December.

You toured with Luke Skywalker and the 2 Live Crew for a few years, what was the most memorable show you performed at with him?

Most memorable shows were the Houston shows in 1994 with the (then) brand new group Outkast. They were performing songs off of their first album "Southernplayalistic," and their stage shows were very experimental. It was dope just to see them doing their thing differently and they were so humble. Shame I didn't get to work with those guys, but we definitely had spoke on it after they saw me and Society on stage together.

What did Luke's stage show consist of at that time?

Luke's shows consisted of up tempo beats while dancers (male and female) danced quickly and provocatively. Mostly some quick scratching, though he did have me do routines with him where I would do tricks with the records. There were some other things that went down onstage that made some of the stage shows wild that I won't mention. You just had to be there!

What albums have you most recently engineered?

Darian the Great's "The Long Awaited Pain," The Pathlords, and Janel Nicole's current Interscope Records demo project "Exhale 418299."

What type of speakers do you use for mix downs?

A pair of Yamaha HS 80Ms and a pair of Avantone Mixcubes.

What is the most crucial part of the recording process?

For me, both the tracking and mixing processes are equally important. If either part of it is wack, you end up with a horrible record.

What do you think Delaware music needs to do in order to be on the mainstream radar?

There needs to be originality and creativity.

The biggest problem is Delaware does not have its own sound. We are so scared of being ourselves [being different] that labels don't take us seriously.

Too many cats here trying to sound crunk or gangster, that everyone sounds the same, and are trying to duplicate what they hear on the radio or see on TV. Too many cats not investing in themselves wholeheartedly.

The mix tape has inadvertently killed creativity in that people waste good songs on these projects instead of getting original beats, doing real studio time and making sure their stuff sounds polished.

Local radio also shares the blame as they play outside artists' stuff, but won't help to plant the seed by playing Delaware or Tri State artists.

Everywhere that I have done records, those places support their own and not on some make it or break it vibe. I mean real rotation, where an artist gets heard by their potential fan base often. At the end of the day, there is not enough professionalism and care when it comes to folks here recording, mixing, mastering and packaging their material to either shop or sell.

I heard you just shot a video with Darian the Great.

Yeah, we shot a video for a song off of his album "The Long Awaited Pain." The video is on Youtube now but can also be found at http://www.myspace. com/slicearoni. We appreciate any comments on the video. We are trying to showcase the MC and the DJ on the same record as a viable entity for Hip-hop to embrace again. But then again, real Hip-hoppers already embrace that idea.

Do you have any new projects lined up?

I am promoting "The Long Awaited Pain," along with working on my Broken Sound Project, and I am taking on a project with old school Pioneer RC LaRock "The Micstro." I also have some things in the works with my good friend, Philly Turntable legend Tat Money. Always promoting my studio is first and foremost, and an industry party for my production album Voices is coming soon. Plus look out for a track from me on the forthcoming Space Invaders album.

Any final words?

Check out Slice's Crib Recording Studio's at Book a session. I promise you won't be disappointed. Also, check out Support my crew "The Cr8Kickers" and our activities, including the Eargazm and Wednesday night Turntable sessions, both held at A Club Called Quest in Wilmington.


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