When people mention The Cool Kids, they usually mention Mikey Rock and Chuck Inglish. But if the backbone of Hip Hop is the DJ, then the backbone of any group, or at least an important component is the guy behind the decks, who doesn’t always get the spotlight but is really carries the show. VIPJ is that dude for Chuck and Mikey. Originally from South Indianapolis, PJ had Beastie Boys and Jazzy Jeff on repeat as a 6 year old, and a chance meeting with Chuck Inglish almost 20 years later changed his life forever. Fill in the blanks with this new RubyHornet exclusive. And catch VIPJ Live tonight at Angels and Kings.
RubyHornet: When, where, and why did you start DJing?
VIPJ: First ever paying gig was my 8th grade Halloween Dance (13 years old). I had a Gemini 1800 mixer, 2 cd walkmans, and a dual cassette player…I played “Flex” by Mad Cobra and watched the whole class mature a couple years during that moment…My infatuation with DJing and Hip Hop began at age 6 or 7. An only child in southside Indianapolis, I spent days listening to 2 tapes while cartoons were on mute: Beastie Boys Licensed to Ill tape and Jazzy Jeff and Fresh Prince He’s the DJ I’m the Rapper. Jazzy Jeff’s scratching on that album is why I wanted to DJ.
RubyHornet: How do you define your Djing style? Do you have a signature sound you like to mess with? Any songs that are always in your crate no matter what?
VIPJ: Hmm, it’s ever evolving, but I’d say my style right now is centered around good Hip Hop, and branching out from soul/funk to electro-ish s**t (more 80’s electro than new) with a lot of blending..I always play old-school s**t in every genre that’s played in the set…when I DJ with vinyl, Michael Jackson’s “Off The Wall” album, Rob Base EZ Rock “It Takes Two” LP, BBD “Poison” (so cliche), and Mark 45 King “900 Number EP”, stay in the party crate.
RubyHornet: How did you link up with The Cool Kids? What was it about Chuck and Mikey that allowed you to vibe well and put your energy into the group?
VIPJ: Spring 2006, visiting a friend of a friend in Logan Square, I met Chuck who was this friend’s roommate. Chuck had just met Mikey through Myspace. I remember I was listening to a beat Chuck made using a Coldplay loop, we started shooting the s**t, then I found myself hanging out there everyday after my day job as a banker. Mikey would come over from the Southside to write and kick it. Besides having similar fashion styles, and very very similar music tastes and views, the vibe between us always felt right and natural. Flash-forward to Sept 2nd 2006 at Gunther Murphy’s, I was supposed to DJ an opening set for a performance from a south-Chicago rap group, but we turned it into the first Cool Kids show (50 min set complete with old school tribute). That was the initial snowball that started the shows in Chicago then eventually the U.S. and the world.
RubyHornet: Can you tell people what your role in The Cool Kids is? Besides DJing for them, do you play a role in song writing or recording?
VPJ: I am the group’s DJ. I make sure the live shows are dope. I’m more of a muse-type when it comes to writing and recording, i.e. I’ll be in the room brainstorming ideas or giving instant feedback while Mikey is writing or Chuck is playing sounds. Every song is pre-tested and re-tested in my car.
RubyHornet: You’ve DJ’ed all over the place, do you have a favorite spot or type of crowd?
VIPJ: I like the spots where if I drop an older, lesser-known, A Tribe Called Quest song, they go ape s**t.
RubyHornet: Do you remember the first record you ever bought? What was the last record you added to your crate?
VIPJ: First ever piece of vinyl I copped was Bust Down “Put Your Ballys On” executive produced by Luther Campbell, from a garage sale for 5 cents, I was ten. I used this record to scratch on my moms old turntable using the rotary volume knob as the fader.. Hard to remember the last vinyl record I bought since I got Serato, kind of sad. I think it was MF Doom “MM Food”.
RubyHornet: What other DJ’s do you look to for inspiration, or creativity?
VIPJ: Still marveling on Q-Bert and Mixmaster Mike’s turntablism ever since 1990. I still believe that they pushed the turntablism envelope further than any DJ even today…If you study the tapes, all the scratches, tricks, techniques, etc. that the recent DMC World champions are doing now, it’s what Q-Bert and Mixmaster Mike (among many others) created back then…Most recently, DJ Scratch (EPMD) from the Q-Tip tour. I still look up to Jazzy Jeff rocking Hip Hop parties, and The Rub (DJ crew of Ayres, Cosmo Baker, and Eleven) always impress me when I see them. Kid Koala’s style is amazing to me. I also dig Mike Relm’s video s**t. Lastly, I get inspiration from my fellow Chicago DJ’s from all the different scenes.
RubyHornet: I understand you went to IU…You are another DJ from Indiana University to make some noise in the DJ scene, what is it about IU that turns out dope DJ’s?
VIPJ: Druuuugggsss maaaannnn..haha, I don’t know. It was definitely a party school when I was there, in fact, it was the number one party school in the nation when I was there, according to USA Today and Playboy. So that’s my theory…
RubyHornet: Is there a difference in your approach when DJing with Chuck and Mikey vs. a gig where it’s just you?
VIPJ: Not really approach-wise, the aim is to rock the crowd. I will def take more risks and experiment more when it’s just me tho.
RubyHornet: What do you have coming up in 2009, where can people check you out?
VIPJ: I got a series of short mixtapes tentatively titled “Kool-Aid for Dessert”, which will feature mostly new and exclusive music. The first one dropping in a week. I have another mixtape I’m doing with Willy Joy that’s gonna be dope… I’ll be Djing a lot more around Chicago right now and throughout the US, while the Cool Kids touring schedule is on break. I’ve been sort of laying low in the cut until now, so I’m officially saying “Hello” this year.
RubyHornet: Lastly, what’s the best piece of advice you’ve gotten about DJing that you feel every DJ should know?
VIPJ: After the extensive touring, shows, and grinding…………….”Don’t forget to have fun up there”- DJ Neil Armstrong (5th Platoon, Jay-Z’s DJ)