Mad Decent superdude and friend of the O DJ Blaqstarr is releasing a new album/mixtape called King of the Roq today in Baltimore-area Downtown Locker Rooms, so if you're in like Towson today and need shoelaces, make sure to pick it up. Since we're a little busy to jump on the southbound Chinatown Express, we'll just post our Gen F feature on Blaqstarr from the current issue after the jump along with an extra bonus photo that didn't make the magazine AND the song mentioned in said Gen F, "Feel It In The Air."
The ethereal club bangers of DJ Blaq Starr
By Nick Barat
Bmore producer DJ Blaq Starr still can’t decide on the name of his studio. “I call it the Dungeon because the vibe is just like, when you come in, it’s a whole different world,” he says, before pausing to think on it some more. “Nah, I ain’t gonna call it the Dungeon. I’ll call it the Cloud.” The contrast couldn’t be a more perfect fit for Blaq Starr, whose chirpy raps and airy vocal melodies float over macadam slabs of bass and snare-replacing Glock bursts like a hood version of Peter Gabriel. It’s a heady, heavy mix that doesn’t sound like anything else in Baltimore Club, let alone any other kind of popular music.
Blaq Starr was making a name for himself DJing teen parties until his brother brought home some beatmaking equipment. Before he even turned 18, his gunshot-based club song “Tote It” had hit radio rotation, and he followed it’s success by penning massive singles for local artists like DOG (“Ryda Girl”) and Young Leek (“Jiggle It”), both of which were buoyed by his unique voice, which he says is influenced equally by John Legend and Bob Marley. In recent months, consummate tastemaker Diplo released an EP of Blaq Starr tracks on his Mad Decent label, and MIA trekked down to the Dungeon/Cloud to record with Blaq Starr for her upcoming sophomore album. “We pulled it from the dirt and just turned it into, like, the Empire State building,” he says of the collaboration with Ms Arulpragasam. “It’s in a different lane, but still with the Baltimore swagger in it.”
Yet Blaq Starr still keeps his strangest—and best—music for himself. His song “Feel It In the Air” was jamming all winter in the rush hour mix on Baltimore station 92Q, and with the song on the stereo and the setting sun in the rearview it felt like the world could end at any minute. Its percolating drums and looped up “HAH!”s were instant dancefloor fodder, but the ghostly refrain of I can feel it in the air/ I can feel it in this beat/ I can feel it in my bones/ That’s why I’m out here moving my feet couldn’t be pegged as easily; it was uneasy, anxious and completely addictive. As long as listeners don’t know exactly what to call it, Blaq Starr is on the right track. “Coming from the DJ side of things, I witnessed first hand what elements made people do certain things,” he says. “In my create mode I was thinking, ‘The bass make ’em do this, the voice make ’em do that, put this together and make ’em do this.”