DJ Sandman Jumps “In the Mix” [Exclusive Interview]
I know what you're thinking, "This brand new Best of the Booth 5 mixtape is incredibly dope, much like Vol. 4, but who's that DJ Sandman guy responsible for its creation?" You've got questions, and luckily we're got answers. Ladies and gentlemen, meet DJ Sandman, the turntablist widely regarded as the Godfather of hip-hop in Tampa Bay.
So before you become so engrossed with Best of the Booth Vol. 5 you forget to eat, we thought we'd take a minute to find out more about Sandman. In this exclusive interview, the man who's rocked stages with the likes of The Roots, Wu-Tang Clan, Scarface, KRS-One and more talks about Tampa's fast rising hip-hop scene, his work with Laws and how you can avoid the pitfalls of becoming a sucka DJ.
You currently reside in Tampa, a city not necessarily known nationally for hip-hop. What's the local hip-hop scene like there and what's part do you play in that scene?
I was born and raised in Tampa so I have had the chance to watch the whole scene develop into what it is today. Our Hip Hop scene is very diverse. Back in the day, it was heavily influenced by both Bass music and East Coast Hip Hop. We even developed our own style dubbed “jook music” which pretty much runs the club scene here today. As far as artists making noise, we have one of the biggest names in production at the moment, the J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League. They started right here in Tampa and are now producing records for so many major artists. It’s a beautiful thing. There is Celph Titled who is huge on the underground scene and travels all over the world with his music. He's dropping a new album with Buckwild later this month. We have Laws (J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League’s artist) making a lot of noise right now too. He recently did a deal with Asylum/Atlantic. Laws used to come to all of the MC Battles that we put on back in the day, he has always been a beast. To watch him grow from there to where he is now is awesome. I can’t forget the ‘Femcee” Dynasty who reps Tampa, she is dropping on DJ Premier’s album later this year. Also look out for The Villanz on the rise, 2Pistols (signed to Cash Money), Dutchmassive, Tom G, Javon Black, Aych, MikeMass, The Rukus, Funkghost, and Jinx. Sorry for all the shout outs.
As far as my role in the scene, I look at myself as just a big supporter and ‘pusher’ of the scene. I started DJing here in the late '80s/early '90s and then moved on to booking national artists and DJs here. I would bring people like KRS-ONE, Black Moon, Common, Kid Capri, etc. in town for shows/parties. I still do that every now and then and at the same time, other promoters hire me to help promote and organize their events. I also own and operate the popular local website, www.tampahiphop.com. Here we feature and promote all artists and events in the city and surrounding areas. It is a huge networking tool in the area. I also hold down a mixshow slot on Friday and Saturday nights on WBTP 95.7 The Beat and I'm a member of the world wide Bumsquad DJz crew.
DJs increasingly must do much more than "just" DJ. Besides spinning, describe what else you're working on?
That’s a very true statement. I make sure to keep myself involved with all kind of things. The biggest and most exciting thing that I’m doing right now is managing Dynasty. She is an awesome female MC who has been making a lot of noise recently. We have been working together a little more than a year now and have already made some great accomplishments. She just dropped a mixtape called Dreampusher that contains 12 original tracks and 6 mixtape style records. On the strength of that, she caught the ear of DJ Premier, who just finished doing a record with her. That is coming out later this year on Year Round Records (DJ Premier’s label) compilation album titled Get Used To Us. We have also been traveling a little to perform in various cities. We hope to be in yours soon.
I am also continuing to book and promote Hip Hop concerts and events in my city. I have a passion for promoting good music and culture. I have the Duck Down Records 15 Year Anniversary Tour coming in a few weeks. Plus, I am also getting ready to help promote a new Villanz project. Just staying busy really. I also want to mention Laws (although this falls back on ‘spinning’). He recently brought me out on the road with him (as his tour DJ) on the Reflection Eternal Tour. That was an awesome experience and I want to thank him for that. I will be working with him more in the future also.
For you, what's the difference between a good DJ and a poor one?
A good DJ is someone who has a passion for the art form, the music, and the culture. It’s not that hard to pick him/her out. They are the ones that put their heart and soul into it. They create an atmosphere with the music they play. A poor DJ is one who just plays music to get groupies, a free bar tab, and who just wants his friends to think he’s cool because he can get them in the club for free. A.K.A. “A Sucka DJ”
What records are out now that DJs need to be including in their sets?
Um.. this is always tough, there are so many needed to make the party right.
I would say any Drake and Young Money singles, Kayne West's Power and Monster, the Miguel ft. J. Cole All I Want Is You, the new Lloyd Banks' Any Girl, Rick Ross BMF is still huge in the clubs. Dynasty‘s Femcee and Magnificent are a must have. Laws Hold You Down. If you’re in Tampa, you have to run Lil Kee’s “Bust It Wide Open” and Tom G’s “Everybody’s Chick”. It all depends on what type of party you’re doing…. I will find a way to get them all in at the same party.
Last words? Shout outs? Confessions?
Sure, first thanks to all the fans and supporters that have been with me since day one. Thanks to all the new ones too, I appreciate you all. I have to shout out the entire staff at DJBooth.net, Nathan, Aaron, DJ Z, and everyone else. Thanks for selecting me as a featured DJ. It’s definitely an honor. Shouts to the “Good DJs” that are still out there, the ones that play music they feel, not just the stuff that the corporations push. Shout out to my crew who always holds me down: Dynasty, Young Deacon, M. Jessee, Scoot, H. Ringer, DJ Charlie Chase, Laws, Kramtronix , Bobby Lee, Dj Fader, Dj Jesse Jazz, and my entire BumSquad Djz family. And again, everyone at DJBooth.net!!!! You all are the best! Make sure you follow me @djsandman813.