DJ Cheese from Plainfield, New Jersey, my hometown.
The remixes DJ Cheese and I worked on for Shades of Hip Hop volume 5: CDS, and Shades of Hip Hop volume 6: Da Goodness were done in a unique way for remixes. Since Shades of Hip Hop is a video mixtape, the audio track would have to be mixed with the live sound including background audio and existing music tracks during a live performance. At the time in 1998, digital studios weren’t readily available and instead it was analog AV mixers like the Panasonic AVE 5. This mixer only provided a left and right channel mix for two separate tracks. The rest of the functions were for video color correction, picking wipes and fades etc.
Also back then, we were forced to use primitive-looking one font character generators that looked terrible but were able to serve the most basic functions. Still, we took what we had and created something which had probably never been done before in hip-hop music. I first shot and edited the video in its entirety, then took it to DJ Cheese, who developed a mix routine for the whole tape and practiced it. Next, I came back to his apartment and recorded three one take sets; one for the first half of the tape (approx. 40 min.), one for the intermission (approx. 4 min.) and one for the second half of the tape (approx 40 min.). Therefore, the sets were recorded as deejay routines, instead of song by song and break by break. That was pretty unique for a video mixtape, even though there really weren’t any other true video mixtapes at the time anyway, which makes it even more unique I guess.
The intermission on Da Goodness was just a two or three song mix over some Bernard Moore sexy swimsuit fashion video. The first set was the Asbury Park concert and Fashion show b-roll, which out of necessity had to be recorded onto video tape as a way to visually sync the playback, since we didn’t have a time code generator on our consumer-end mixers. So, to do the final mix I would use two separate S-VHS tapes; one with the edited video for visuals and the other with DJ Cheese’s music bed overdubbed onto the second video as a way to make sure the tapes were in sync. From there, I blended the two tracks or took them in and out where I needed to. That was the best way for me, at the time with the AV mixer I had. Those higher end mixers were of the professional/industrial level and cost way more to buy or rent time on. So as with Hip Hop Kulture, we improvised.
Plus, the beauty of it all, is that in effect, as you hear the final mix, however “unprofessional” it sounds, you are listening to the 1st ever World Champion Deejay spin a special mix for you recorded live. You get to hear one-of-a-kind blends, kuts and scratches plus any errors, just as if you were actually there, the same as I was when I first heard it and recorded it. The video dubs and b-roll were added to the video before the DJ Cheese mix and gave him the ideas for selecting beats to use, especially on the intermission. Some of his selections are academic and necessary to make the video bump more, while others are more creative and experimental which provide a creative look at familiar songs. In all, combined with the second half of the tape recorded live in Newark, the video plays like an audio mixtape that includes interviews. For an example, check out the first clip from Da Goodness below. The rest can be found on the VIDEO page.