Anyone who knows me from my high school days knows I was a Beastie Boys fanatic. This was before their first album came out (I know, I’m old). I had bought “Cookie Puss” when it came out and loved both sides. I bought “Rock Hard” (a 12″ single pre-“Licensed To Ill” era) and MCA’s solo song called “Drum Machine”. I even bought “She’s On It”, although I didn’t like it as much as the earlier singles. I went to the Run DMC “Raising Hell” tour at the Oakland Coleseum mainly to see them. I was around 15 at the time and “Paul Revere” had just came out, but it wasn’t a hit yet. (This was also before any Beastie Boys album came out.) Nobody at the show knew who they were or knew any of their songs, which didn’t surprise me. I WAS surprised when I saw that there was actually a Beastie Boys T-shirt at the merch booth. I used to wear it to school and everyone asked me, “who’s that?”. I knew I was cool. On the back of the shirt it said, “Get Off My Dick” and true story, I got expelled from school for wearing it. The only time I got expelled.
They came back to the Bay Area in ’87 when “Licensed To Ill” first came out and played at the De Anza College Flint Center, which was about 20 minutes from my house. Even though I’d seen them the year before, they only played a couple songs the first time around and this time I’d get to see a whole show by them. Better still, it was at a small an intimate spot since most teenagers and young adults still didn’t know who they were. This was before “Fight For Your Right” became an MTV supported smash success. Before they went on to perform that night, there was music playing, but no DJ. I remember vividly that it was dub music coming out of the speakers and I remember the tone it set for what would follow. It was the first time I’d heard reggae on a proper system. I usually never remember this sort of stuff, but it really hit me. I was loving the fact that a hip hop group would have deep instrumental dub style music before they went on. I’m not sure if they even chose the music, but at the time I was convinced that they did. I came to the show prepared. I brought a demo tape of me scratching, a letter stating why I should be their tour DJ (this was before they had one), and a wallet sized high school picture. I started the letter with “To The Boys” and my homey Sweet Steve (AKA Baron Zen) made fun of me for writing that. It became a joke among all my friends and someone even drew a picture of them and wrote “The Boys” on top. I actually just found the pic recently and am gonna do a T-shirt of it. Anyway, I put the tape, pic, and letter all in a regular sized envelope and during their performance, I threw the package on stage in hopes that they’d get it, open it up, and hire me as their DJ. At that time, I was convinced that I was the missing link from their live show, although the girl in the cage was a nice touch.
Around 1998, I found out that Mix Master Mike was their new DJ. They even based a hit song around him and shouted him out in the chorus. I was so proud of him and thought it was a trip that I had just performed with him on 4 turntables at Future Primitive about a month or so before. I’d known Mike for years just through being in the SF hip hop scene. When Mike became a new member, I went to see them at the Oakland Coleseum again and it was a big deal to me, but this time for a different reason. I was so nervous for Mike, but as usual, he killed it. No mistakes aloud. They even performed “Paul Revere” over my record (Super Duck Breaks) and I got chills watching from the nosebleed seat I was in. I was inspired and told A-Trak that he needs to get a gig like that: DJing for a really successful rap artist or group. I knew he had thought about it now and then, but I suggested he pursue Missy Elliot or Jay Z at the time because they both respected the old school and four elements. When A-Trak eventually went on to spin for Kanye, I was proud he got the gig and proud of what he contributed to Kanye’s show just like everyone else who knew him back when he was performing for much smaller audiences. He still does small shows on rare occasion if the vibe is right, but I digress.
In 2000, I got the call from their label A & R Tick asking me to do a remix of thier song “Shadrach” on spec for a DVD anthology they were doing of all their videos with new versions remixed by up and coming DJs/producers. Madlib did a mix as well. It was a dream come true for me and I put a lot of effort into the mix and sure enough, it made the final cut to their DVD, as did Madlib’s mix. It came out for Christmas that year and I got to brag to all my friends I grew up with about it and that was that. (You can now buy my remix of “Shadrach” for .99 cents on itunes.)
2005. We did the video for Quasimoto’s “Rapp Cats” (check it out at www.rappcats.com). I got a call from Tick telling me that The Boys loved it. He even showed me a mass text he got from Mike D, telling all Mike’s friends to check it out. I was proud because the idea of the video was mine as were all the old school videos that I spliced in it. It was also the first video I co-directed. Even got shown at the Resfest, but I was more excited that The Beasties dug it and were spreading the word. I knew nothing about directing, but I had an idea and found an editor in Andrew Gura who would put up with my commands, even though he was an established director.
Fast forward to today. A few hours ago. When I got the call from my booking agent about opening a few gigs for “The Boys”, I was shocked. Not because I’m a bad choice for the gig (which is also debatable), but because of the long road I’ve traveled doing music and how everything is connected in a wierd way. It’s even more ironic because I went to my high school reunion last weekend and saw everyone for the first time in 20 years and am on a reminiscing kick right now. I even DJed the reunion (up in San Jose) and “Brass Monkey” was a big hit for me that night.
I don’t even know what to do at these shows. I just got the gigs today (only 2 days before my first show with them) and am in the middle of wrapping up a really important album that was literally also due today and I still haven’t finished it. I’ve been working on a remix of Common on spec in the studio all day today and have been working on the other songs from the album every day for the past week. I still have tons of work to do, even though it was supposed to be sent to the pressing plant today to come out the same day as the video game that it’s the counterpart to (2K Sports’ 2K8), but that’s a whole other story.
Normally, I wouldn’t even accept these gigs at such short notice with everything else going on, but it’s the BEASTIE BOYS. Even though they never got my demo package 20 years ago (cuz if they did they would’ve called), I finally get to share the stage with them. As for this weekend, I wanted to do the video DJ set that I’ve been doing lately at my bigger shows cuz it’s a lot more fun for the crowd to watch, but the venues aren’t set up for it. I really don’t even know what kind of music to play. I hate taking direction from someone else, but this time, I think I’d prefer it. 48 hours til showtime. Maybe I’ll just rent 48 Hours and call it a day. (That’s an old 80’s movie with Eddie Murphy for those too young to know.)