Vinyl Archeology: DJ Craze Remembers Miami Bass

April 22, 2008

DJ Craze is a record-setting, three-time DMC world champion and is widely accepted as one of the best scratch DJs on Earth. He just dropped a mix for Fabric’s DJ series, Fabriclive, and since MySpace tourdates never lie, is also apparently Kanye's new DJ, which means he will be even more famous in about three seconds. After the jump, read Craze's VA from FADER 53 in which he recalls and recounts the very first Miami Bass tracks he heard growing up in MIA. Also, since it's the internet, we've added some multimedia-ness to the whole thing.

Growing up in Miami, I was surrounded by the Caribbean and Latin flavors that have come to define the city. What always stood out for me when I listened to salsa, older merengue or even reggae was the bass. So strong was its pull, that I had to follow it, to live it, to stand next to speakers and feel it turn out my insides. I still seek it to this day. When people think Miami bass, it usually triggers Yo! MTV Raps-born visions of sunny weather, bikini booty shakes and cars that go boom. While these images are all a part of Miami bass’ identity, there is so much more to it. These are some of the first Miami bass tracks I heard, and the ones that impacted me the most.

DJ Jealous J “Cut It Up Def” 12-inch (Cut It Up Def 1989)

This bass track is one of my favorites because of the amount of scratching on it. The whole song is bragging about how dope Jealous J is. When I was younger, I thought that was ill. It was also one of the first times I heard fast scratching. Jealous J’s cuts were so clean and precise, it made me not wanna leave my room ‘til I got my own cuts down. Jealous J has now moved on from producing Miami bass tracks and changed back to his real name, Jim Jonsin. He now produces tracks for Danity Kane, Pitbull, Jamie Foxx, Trick Daddy, Twista, Trina, Pretty Ricky...

Breezy Beat MC “Shake the Joint” 12-inch (Debonaire Records 1988)

I remember watching my brother and sister get down to this at the family reunions. They would do the funniest dance moves that, at the time, I thought were the coolest (the Cabbage Patch was one of them). I love the amount of breakdowns it has. Just when you think the song is over, another break hits you. Dance music is so repetitive these days…what happened to the breakdowns?

DJ Laz “Esa Morena”
12-inch (Pandisc 1996)

Here’s another classic made by DJ Laz. In Spanish “Esa Morena” means “that dark-skinned chick.” This song was one of the first times I heard a merengue sample in a bass track…which was crazy because merengue is 140 BPM and even faster. This track actually hits 160 BPM, which makes it a workout on the dancefloor, and the energy is unstoppable. It’s always fun to play this at my Bass Sessions party in Miami, cause all the Latin chicks go wild as soon as they hear those horns coming in.

DJ Laz “Mami El Negro” 12-inch (Pandisc 1991)

DJ Laz has to be one of the most influential DJs in my life—he’s been DJing here in Miami for as long as I can remember. I grew up listening to his legendary sets on Power 96, thinking one day I’d wanna scratch and mix like him. This song was the ish cause he sampled Wilfredo Vargas’ version of “Mami Que Sera Lo Que Quiere El Negro.” Translation: Mom, what does that black guy want? For those who would think that’s a racist comment, just take a look at the dude singing it and you’ll understand. When this track would drop in the club, all the Latinos would go crazy.

Afro-Rican “Give It All You Got” 12-inch (Suntown Records 1987)

If you’ve heard “Fergalicious,” you’ve heard the sample of James Brown’s “Night Train.” Well,’s production job was a little easier than you think—he just sampled “Give It All You Got,” which had already sampled “Night Train.” It’s funny to play this song out because I get mixed reactions: my hardcore hip-hop fans always look at me like I’ve sold out, and then I have to explain what a dope Miami bass track it really is. All the Top 40 heads get mad because they’re always expecting Fergie to be rapping instead of some half-African, half-Puerto Rican dude from Ft Lauderdale.

DJ Magic Mike and the Royal Posse “Drop the Bass” 12-inch (Cheetah Records 1989)

This song was the reason I fell in love with bass: the breakdown is classic! Magic Mike sampled Ad-Rock slurring the word DDRROOPP! Back then, you couldn’t pass by a car in Miami without hearing this track bumping through the speakers; the bass was so heavy it would make the trunks rattle, and to this day, there is still no other Miami bass track that carries so much boom.

Anquette “Shake It”/ Do The 61st” 12-inch (Skyywalker 1987) (youtube)

Anquette was a female rapper who was down with Luke Skyywalker Records. This song was a shout out to all the hoods in Miami and the big cities in the US. I couldn’t go to clubs when Miami bass was popping, but I remember my older brother telling me stories about when he went out. He told me that every time this song came on, it was a problem. Back then, gangs were still in full force in Miami, but I don’t really see how people could’ve wanted to fight to “Shake It.” The breakdown is what makes this song—right before the break, Anquette screams out, Hold up wait a minute, let us put some BOOM in it.!

Vinyl Archeology: DJ Craze Remembers Miami Bass