DJ Make It Do What It Do
I heard about New York native DJ Make It Do What It Do (DJMIDWID) from Music Addikts, which featured a great interview with him last week. You can find this DJ spinning regularly for spoken word artists at the Literary Café and Poetry Lounge in Miami, where he has been for the past four years. DJMIDWID has already released a compilation album titled, Spoken Word Lyricists Volume 1, which features several nationally recognized poets. He continues to deliver music to the masses with his podcast and his company, Jazzy Fellow Productions. DJMIDWID brings his event Jazz Fridays, which features South Florida’s best soul musicians and poets, to the Literary Café & Poetry Lounge on the last Friday of each month.
I got a chance to chat with DJMIDWID about his experiences, his DJ style and his take on independent music.
Mimi Soul: Who would you say are some of your influences as a DJ?
DJMIDWID: I can honestly say that I’ve learned a lot from a local DJ down here by the name of Silver Fox. I also learned a lot from Self Born. And, believe it or not, a lot of it has come from watching Jazzy Jeff’s Youtube videos and seeing how he maneuvers the crowd and operates. I learned a lot by watching him.
Mimi Soul: Have you had to make any changes in the way you DJ in order to keep up with the changes in the industry, such as the shift from vinyl and cds to digital music?
DJMIDWID: I actually started out using cds at first. Then I got into making sure I had my laptop as well. To me, it’s a much better transition because you don’t have to carry a bunch of records with you. All you have to do is just have a backpack and you’re pretty much good to go. So, it made my life a lot easier.
Mimi Soul: How did you get into DJing for spoken word events and artists?
DJMIDWID: I was going to a lot of poetry events at an early age and when I started at the Literary Café, I was going there as a regular patron every single week for like a good 8 months or so. The house DJ was there for quite some time and he had to go off to college. So, I asked the owner if he needed someone to volunteer that night and that’s pretty much it. I started out with every Saturday night and it was just a snowball effect; working everyday or every other day of the week at spoken word events.
Mimi Soul: In your Music Addikts interview, you said that the main part about being a DJ is breaking new records. As you know, there are lots of artists that release mixtapes and things like that almost weekly. How do you keep up with what’s current?
DJMIDWID: Honestly, through Twitter, Facebook and OkayPlayer. There are also a lot of indie soul sites that you can visit where the artist will give away snippets of their music and you can purchase their album. So, that’s how I keep current with all of the music that’s coming out. One project that I’m actually looking forward to getting my hands on is the new Sade project. It got pushed back so I’m a little upset about that. But, I digress.
Mimi Soul: So, how do you usually prepare for a spoken word set? Do you try to read about some the poets beforehand?
DJMIDWID: Nah, I don’t know what type of piece the poets are going to be doing when they go on stage. What I try to do is match whichever song goes hand in had with what the poet is reciting. I’m not the type of DJ to say “Hey, what piece are you doing? What is that about?” I pretty much go off the top of my head. Based off the emotion and everything else that they’re reciting on stage, I’ll find the right song within less than a minute.
Mimi Soul: That means you really have to think quickly.
Mimi Soul: I couldn’t imagine being on the spot like that.
DJMIDWID: I miss my mark every now and then but I wanna say at least 90% of the time, I hit the nail on the head.
Mimi Soul: You’ve also said that if you had to describe your DJ style in one word, it would be eclectic. If someone were going to a set where you’re spinning, what should they expect?
DJMIDWID: They will probably be able to say that they heard music that they don’t normally hear on the radio. If I’m doing a nightclub scene, that’s completely different because I know there’s a 99.9% chance that I can’t play Erykah Badu in the club. But, if I’m playing a social event, a poetry event or my own event, it’s gonna be hip hop, soul, r&b, jazz; a little bit of everything. Anything but commercial.
Mimi Soul: When people ask you to suggest a spoken word artist, who are some of the artists that you mention?
DJMIDWID: I definitely have to say Will Da Real One. He’s a poet out of South Florida. He’s very creative and he’s always thinking outside the box. Another is Oveous Maximus. He’s a poet out of New York City. Taalam Acey pretty much birthed a new genre of spoken word artists with his style of poetry. There are so many of them. Sunni Patterson, M’Reld out of Chicago, Future out of Flint, Michigan and Asia, another def poet out of South Florida. There are a lot of poets across the US that I listen to that came through South Florida and I DJed for them. So, narrowing it down to a couple is kinda hard.
Mimi Soul: Yeah, I’m sure. Who are some of the musical artists that you suggest most often?
DJMIDWID: Honestly, people like Foreign Exchange, Little Brother, Out of Sight, Goapele, Dwele, Eric Roberson and Raheem Devaughn. I’m drawing a blank but I know I’ll think of other artists that I recommend to a lot of people.
Mimi Soul: What are your thoughts about the independent music industry?
DJMIDWID: I appreciate what’s going on right now in the independent market. What I don’t like is when people actually make the comment “Oh, there’s no real good music out there.” It’s not that there’s no real good music out there. It’s just that they’re not taking the time to research different artists. For instance, Eric Roberson isn’t signed to any major record label but yet the man is nominated for a Grammy because the music, the storytelling and his singing ability speaks for itself. Foreign Exchange is independent as well. So, there is good independent music out there. You just gotta go out there and look for it. But, I love it.
Mimi Soul: I gotta ask you a tough question. As someone who probably has a lot of music, this may be hard to think about, but let’s say you had to part with all of your music except for 3 albums. Which 3 would you not be able to let go?
Mimi Soul: Yep
DJMIDWID: Geez. That’s a hard question. I would have to say Biggie Smalls Ready to Die, A Tribe Called Quest Midnight Marauders and Eric Roberson’s Left cd.
Mimi Soul: I hear ya. I think I’ve played the words off Left. I never get tired of that cd.
Thanks DJMIDWID for a great conversation! If you’re ever in the Miami area, be sure to stop by the Literary Café & Poetry Lounge. Not only will you hear the work of amazing spoken word artists, but you’ll hear their verses matched with a DJ who can definitely make it do what it do.
Literary Cafe & Poetry Lounge
933 NE 125th Street
North Miami, FL 33161