DJ Evil Dee: Always Live...From DeeJaying to Da Beatminerz


any given night you can usually find DJ Evil Dee in Bushwick, Brooklyn

at Alice Dewgarde’s House. The three-room studio, that also doubles

as his place of dwelling, is still referred to by it’s traditional

name, "The Crib of Hits." But, with their mom’s passing the Dewgarde brothers

felt it necessary to honor the woman who raised Da Beatminerz in the

place they still create nearly all of their music.


seems the more things change for the Boot Camp Clik, the more they stay

the same. With Duck Down Records turning into an independent product

powerhouse, and Da Beatminerz currently as in-demand by labels and artists

as they’ve ever been, it would make sense if Evil Dee’s ego had

grown since “Who Got Da Props?” first hit the airwaves back in ‘92.

But alas, the heavyweight DJ with the high-pitch voice is still humble

enough to kick it with fans in record stores and personally respond

to MySpace messages.What

he will boldly proclaim is that now, more than ever he’s disenchanted

with the direction of mainstream Hip Hop in North America. While it

may have more to do with ethics than ego, you get the impression that

Evil Dee is like the Don Corleone of Hip Hop production. His methods

are old school, he’s meticulous about the details, and if he’s not

feeling your product or your game plan, chances are you’re not doing

business. Evil Dee’s seen and done it all before, so whether you love

him or hate him, you’ve got to respect him. It’s almost

like you’ve never stopped performing live, whether it’s at home

rocking Sputnik or abroad somewhere. 

DJ Evil Dee: I tell cats about

the whole live show thing, you’ve gotta do what you do. Me, I love

deejaying and a lot of people hire me to do parties. So I’m always

running around doing parties everywhere, and at the same I go around

with my crew Boot Camp. Like this weekend that passed I was out in LA

with them at the Paid Dues Tour, so we’re just having fun. Not long ago

you were over in Japan doing shows. What’s the response like for DJ

Evil Dee over there right now? 

DJ Evil Dee: Let me tell you

a little bit about Japan. A lot of people still don’t know about Japan.

It’s crazy over there, Hip Hop is back to like ’88. It’s not about

“You the hottest thing.” If your joints make sense, if you’ve

got that sound, if you’re talented, they’ll mess with you. With

me, I go over there and DJ every year and we’re selling out parties

over there. And a lot of cats from Japan listen to my podcast. So over

there is just fantastic man. You ever get a chance to do any of the cultural or tourist

things while you’re there? 

DJ Evil Dee: When I’m over

there I’m record shopping. Like I still haven’t seen Japan

Japan yet. But I’ve seen all the record stores. I’ve seen all the

Hip Hop stuff. Plus they’ve got some groups over there that’s killin'

it, just really representin'. I know it sounds crazy, but they got this

group called The Teriyaki Boys, and they are tearin' it down over there.

And it’s a lot of other cats over there that’s doing stuff too. What would be

your favorite thing about doing a show in Tokyo as opposed to a show

in Brooklyn? 

DJ Evil Dee: Oh that’s real

simple. Anywhere outside the United States I can play whatever’s dope.

I don’t have to play the hits, all I have to do is play dope records.

I could be in Japan and I could throw on A Tribe Called Quest “Once

Again,” and they’ll yell for it as if someone threw on Jay-Z’s

“PSA.” It’s like all cats outside the United States just want

to hear the dope stuff. No disrespect to the South, but a lot of cats

outside the States don’t understand it. They don’t understand a

Soulja Boy or a Young Berg and the rest of them dudes, you know? They

just like Hip-Hop, they like beats and flows. If you don’t have a

good flow and your beat and head-boppin', they don’t mess with it. So you could

throw on some Black Moon and… 

DJ Evil Dee: Black Moon is

classic over there. Gang Starr is classic, Wu-Tang is classic over there.

Mos Def and Talib Kweli, EPMD. I could name records and cats that if

you throw on their stuff, it’s automatic classic. Is there a particular

record you would make sure was in your crate if you were going to a

certain country? 

DJ Evil Dee: Hmmm. A lot of

people who hire me do so because they know I’m gonna come with my

flavor. And most of the parties that I do, if I throw on a Beatminerz

joint, cats know it. If I’m doing a party in Japan and I throw on

“I Got Cha Opin” album version or “Heads Ain’t Ready,” they’ll

lose it. What it is over here, music is segregated. It’s broken down

into “This is the south, this is the west, this is New York,” and

I’m just like “Let music be music.” I hear a lot of down south

stuff I like, I hear a lot of west coast music I like. I’m a big DJ

Quik fan. I like Lil Scrappy, Rick Ross is dope. Music is music, you

have good music and you have bad music. Speaking of

good music, Duck Down has a real strong movement going right now. Can

you describe the feeling of having dudes like KRS-One and Ed O.G. coming

on or having the History Channel reaching out for music? 

DJ Evil Dee: It’s funny because

I was just talking to Buckshot about that while we were on the plane

going out west last week. It’s a good feeling to know that cats are

in the game and things are going their way. It shows that we’re not

just here, we’re here and we’re making people realize what’s going

on. Those are some real big moves, cause these are cats that we watched

coming into the game. And it’s not about a hit record, it’s about

putting out quality records. KRS-One is making an impact, but KRS-One

also makes good records. It’s all about good music. Ed O.G. and them,

good music. It’s like Stones Throw [Records], they don’t have no

million-dollar sellers but they have real, good music. Madlib is a genius,

and he’s producing real good records. It’s nice

to be in a position where you don’t have to worry about the hits,

and just put out what you feel is good music and have the fan base to

support it. 

DJ Evil Dee: Exactly. Black

Moon, we’re not selling platinum. But if we do SOB’s, we’ll sell

it out faster than some of the big acts. I went to a showcase at SOB’s

where the number one radio station was doing something and it wasn’t

even crowded. But I’ll be in there deejaying or something and it’ll

be sold out. So that tells you something. Right now the people are really

taking notice of what’s going on. Even if you look at the number game,

the big cats ain’t selling like they used to. People are tired. People

want better, they want a change. Who’s gonna

bring it? 

DJ Evil Dee: Well hopefully

us, and some of the new cats that are coming out. There’s a new MC

coming out every five minutes, and hopefully one of them will bring

it. We’re putting together a new Black Moon album right now, I’m

putting together 5ft’s solo joint. We’re putting together some Beatminerz

stuff and a whole bunch of other projects, so hopefully all of those

projects will make a difference. One thing I will say is every time

I put something out, we don’t sell millions but we always put a dent

in. We always realize that people are listening. I know a lot of producers

listen to see what I’m doing, and I’m happy about that. That shows

me I’m still effective. I tell people “Your favorite producer knows

who I am,” and it’s not because I’m selling mad records. It’s

because when I make something, they’re listening. I don’t know

if you caught Q-Tip’s recent interview where he said something along

the lines of ‘Hip Hop’s current course driving it the same way as

disco.’ Do you have some thoughts on that? 

DJ Evil Dee: I will say that

the way Hip Hop is going, at the end of the day that’s what’s making

more people look at us. Why do you think there’s a ‘90s resurgence

going on right now? People are tired of what’s going on with current

music. If you even listen to music, listen to a new Hip-Hop album, and

[then] put on….off the top of my head…Eric B and Rakim’s Paid

In Full. I’ma tell you what’s missing from music, the depth.

The his, the mids and the bass, that’s not there no more. Right now

music sounds ‘tinny.’ And it’s not only cause of Pro Tools. Prince

Paul said it best, we’re in the microwave era. Cats are dropping albums

like it’s cool. Cats are recording albums within a week or two. Back

in the days you took six months to do your album, and the quality was

better. Now you recording your album in your house, your mans and them

is mixing it for you, Bubba is mastering it and you’re throwing it

on the internet. Yeah, my studio is in my crib, but I hire engineers

to come in. My electricity is filtered so I don’t get those surges

and I have a clean currency going through my house. Little things like

that makes a difference in your sound. It’s sad that I make stuff

in my house that’s cleaner than a pop star’s album, and they have

a million dollar studio and I’m in my house. I’m more home-cooked

music, I can’t record an album in a week and I’m not making your

beat in 15 minutes. That’s not happening with me. When you leave here

I want everything sounding right, a snare sounds like a snare, a kickdrum

sounds like kickdrum, you feel the bass line. Music right now, people

are taking notice. The pop stuff, it may go the way of disco, but the

underground will live forever. It’s like Q-Tip is right. I won’t

say Hip Hop will go that way, but rap might go that way. You were saying

you’re doing Da Beatminerz thing right now. Are you and Mr. Walt always

in the studio together doing beats? 

DJ Evil Dee: Mr. Walt is always

here. Other than the music, that’s my older brother, so if I’m in

the studio he’s always there. It doesn’t help that I live on the

first floor and he lives on the third floor (Laughs). But we always

work together, whether I’m programming a beat or he is. We’ll keep

working until music stops. It ain’t about a paycheck, it’s about

the respect. Aside from Duck

Down projects, are you feeling a demand from other artists to provide

beats for their albums? 

DJ Evil Dee: It’s funny cause

I thought cats was going to really be on some BS, but the phone still

rings and cats call us left and right. But a lot of the cats that are

calling, we’re not feeling. The commercial cats are calling us and

I’m like “Yo, I’m not gonna do a Soulja Boy record.” People

from different camps call us for beats and I turn things down, because

when I listen to the artist I don’t feel it. I’m an old school producer

where if you call me for a beat, I gotta hear your stuff and be able

to vibe with you. I don’t just make generic beats and put it out there.

It’s like a home cooked meal, you go to the house and the meal is

being cooked for you. We’re old school with it, and you get a better

record when you do music like that. Right now that’s another reason

why music sounds the way it sounds. Let’s say I’ma do a record with

Jim Jones. I email him the track and he emails me his verse, I mix it

and no one meets. That’s the worst! There’s no chemistry there. You gotta have

a couple arguments in the studio before it starts sounding good. 

DJ Evil Dee: It’s funny but

that’s so true though. You gotta be able to sit down, and I gotta

see where your mind is at. Heltah Skeltah is coming back out, and I

sat down with Ruck and Rock and I was explaining that to them. Come

to think of it, they probably gon’ be here tomorrow. But that’s

how I work. You can call me up and say you want a beat, but we gotta

listen to your stuff. And if at the end of the day we’re not feeling

it, we’ll tell you “No.” You can’t just be a beat whore. I’m

not gonna sit there and produce everybody because it’s a check. Money

brings problems and too much money brings too much problems. You start

living for the money and you get caught up in that. I’m hearing rumors

now about a famous producer who’s broke, and I feel bad cause he’s

a cool dude. But he started living for the money, and that’s sad.