Salute The Spin Doctors!: Talib Kweli’s DJ Spintelect a.k.a. “The African DJ”


Editor’s Note: DJs carried the original torch for Hip-Hop – back when there were no MCs! is taking a little time out to “Salute the Spin Doctors” this month. Check back for more feature stories and editorials with some of the top DJs across the country.

As part of our series, we chilled with one of the dopest tour DJs to hit the stage! “The African DJ”, DJ Spintelect, took a few minutes to chop it up with about touring, Talib Kweli, and what’s going on with him currently! Hey, DJ Spintelect, let’s just go right to the beginning! How long have you been DJ’ing, and how did you get started?

DJ Spintelect: I’ve been DJ’ing for about 11 years, almost 12. I got into DJ’ing through my older brothers. They’re both DJs, so it was passed down. So, it’s a family talent! Dope!

DJ Spintelect: But I actually started producing on the MPC before DJ’ing first. We know you are doing your thing DJ’ing on the road. Who have you toured with in the last year or so? Any special show memories that you care to share with us?

DJ Spintelect: The past year I’ve been touring full time with Talib Kweli, as well as doing spot Black Star show dates. Nice!

DJ Spintelect: Also, by touring with Kweli, he often brings out a lot of special guests, so I’ve gotten the chance to rock with Bun B, Jean Grae, Pharoahe Monch, Schoolboy Q, Ab Soul and many more. We’ve seen you a few times in various places with Talib Kweli, and those shows are crazy high energy! What do you do to prepare for each show?

DJ Spintelect: I normally relax in my hotel room a few hours before the show, listening to music, getting in a zone, head to the venue in one hour or two to check out the crowd, listen to what the opening DJs/performers are playing because I usually spin for about 10-15 minutes before Kweli comes on to perform. And, it is up to me to bring the energy level to the maximum before Kweli comes out. Getting the crowd ready in advance always sounds like a good plan.

DJ Spintelect: Then about 30 minutes before showtime, grab a sugar-free Red Bull and a double shot of Jack and get ready to hit the stage. Ha! You guys were rockin’ stages all over the place at South By Southwest (SXSW). Was there any one show that stuck out as memorable for you at SXSW this year?

DJ Spintelect: This SXSW was a crazy one for me, going from doing a couple of showcases at last year’s SXSW to rocking over 10-plus stages this year in a matter of three days. So, this whole SXSW is gonna be the most memorable, because I rocked so many different stages and crowds, from shows with Talib Kweli to upcomer Alexander Spit, and then doing my own DJ showcases and after parties. This whole SXSW was memorable! So, you have also been doing some DJ gigs back home in California. What do you like to put in a set when you are able to just get open in the club, and who are you feeling right now?

DJ Spintelect: To be honest, I like spinning all kinds of music, ideally doing a three to four-hour sets are the best, because I get to go through a good amount of music. Starting off by playing smooth, vibing music into the club stuff, whether it be Top 40 music or Hip-Hop – because a lot of folks don’t know I’m a big fan of house music, like Bob Sinclair house vibes. Oh, wow! I bet they didn’t know that.

DJ Spintelect: The artists I’m really feeling right now have to be Big K.R.I.T, Schoolboy Q, Gibby & Sham, Yuna, 2 Chainz, and Chief Keef. That’s who I’m really listening to. So, what’s up next for DJ Spintelect?

DJ Spintelect: More mixtapes and bigger projects [that] I can’t quite speak on at the moment. That sounds intriguing! Thanks so much for your time, DJ Spintelect. We look forward to hearing what you are working on soon, and a little birdie told us that there may be an exclusive mix done just for!

Be on the lookout for DJ Spintelect coming soon to a stage near you. In the meantime, follow him on Twitter (@Spintelect).