Thursday, July 5, 2007

Interview with DJ Kofi Obafemi

DJ Kofi Obafemi one of the most down to earth person you would ever know and talented in The Art of DJing and making beats.
His musical taste is amazing, knowing that brother has broaden my musical taste from Afro Beat to Brazillian music, Nu-Soul, and Hip-Hop!! Some one should give this brother some air on the radio for real. Even when he DJ's he brings the newness to the table so read along and welcome to the world of DJ Kofi Obafemi!!!

1. What is new with DJ Kofi Obafemi? What kind of music are you
feeling at the moment?

I've been in need of some serious inspiration lately and recently, the opportunity came up to bounce down to ATL. Te veo Brooklyn! I'll be down south by the end of July. I'm going to set up a little studio inside the crib that will be a definite step up from the bedroom studio I've been working with. Heads are MOVIN ON UP!

Groups / people that inspire me to stay progressive with my sound: 4Hero, J. Davey, Black Milk, Moody Man, Karisma, Osunlade and the selections of DJ Benji-B.

I could go on and on...

2. What are your musical influences?

I'll keep it short and sweet by saying SOUL music. My dad was a musician from Harlem in the 60's and 70's playing in Latin jazz and R & B cover bands. He played bass and sax primarily. I'm a 70's child so that should say alot! I would love to tell you that I started out playing the drums or that I studied jazz guitar for years as a kid, but actually, I played violin in school from age 8 to 13. That's how I learned to read sheet music, which is a skill that's escaped me since.

I also have to admit that I was into some serious pop in the 1980's. At the same time that I was giving attention to this new "hip-hop" movement that was just bubbling up out of the boroughs of New York City, I was also equally as excited by all those British pop acts that the 1st wave of MTV exposed us to. It was an age of awakening for me, musically.

3. What is your intake on the technology DJ's are using now to do
parties such as Serato or Ipods?

I'm primarily a vinyl head but only because I've been through a looong engagement period with this medium. I've invested a whole lot of eatin' money to vinyl. If I could convert my records to meals, I could feed a mob of people. Now that we the dee jay have options, I refuse to hate on others that take advantage of the new technology. I bought a Dennon SN-5000 just so I have access to my own tracks when I want to put them in a mix. Feels just like a 3rd turntable. You cant press up a 12" inch at your crib, but you can damn sure burn an mp3 in a minute or two and get the music out.

I like vinyl for selfish reasons, but I also know that in the end, the reasons wont help me feed my kids, I like the effort put into the designing of album covers. I like its size. I like the connection I can make with vinyl through touch. All that helps me to find and remember the track I want to pull next much more quickly than if it were just some mp3 file hidden away on a hard drive or on a CD-R with 50 other mp3s. When you're chillin' in your studio or on your couch with that stream of smoke drifting towards the ceiling and you've got that one record on that puts your right in the place you want to be mentally, holding that album cover in my hands and reading the liner notes completes that fantasy moment. Call me crazy!

4. What do you use to make beats? How do you describe your sound?

My set up is very simple.

As for hardware: Two 1200's turntables, a Roland XP-80 synth & my Roland MC-909. I also have a bunch of hand held percussive instuments like maracas, panderas, and a berimbau, I have 2 congas and a djembe also taking up floor space. Combine this with Cakewalk Sonar and Reason and I'm good. Thats the entire kit.

Do I even have a sound? I dunno. I make the music that I'm feelin'. I'm not genre specific. What I can say about my music is that I like for the rhythm and melodies to be understandable - not so dark and complex that you need to be high just to enjoy the music. I also try to inspire movement of the head or of the ass. I dont make music to sit to.

One thing that urks me is this wave of producers who feel that they must intentionally make their hip-hop with the snare or clap pushed ahead to the point where it starts sounding out of time with the kick and everything else you got going on. Nah, not for me! I personally like to dance and if I cant groove to it, whats the point? Anyway, if you're making your tracks like that, keep doing your thing and I'll do mine. As long as there's an audience for it then who am I to dis?

5. Do you still dig for Vinyl?

I no longer spend hours going to dark and dusty shops looking for obscure records for the collection or to sample. I just dont have the time anymore. I typically find most of my music online from checkin out i-net radio programs from every corner of the world. THAT THE NEW DIG, ya dig? When I hear a track I like, I Google whatever I know about it and do my research. I've been able to keep my musical selections unique this way. When you hear me spin live or one of my mixed CDs I can garauntee that you may not be familiar with much of what I'm playing...but it'll still be funky!

6. Are you doing any collaborations or working with any artists? Who
would you like to produce for? Any projects to look forward to?

I just submitted a hip-hop remix for an Ed "Earlyman" Graves project. Edmund's known for his 10+ years stint as the guitarist for Spacek. He's also one of the original 3 front men for the Spacek crew. Ed's doing his own thing now and recently dropped an EP that got some play and positive mention on Gilles Peterson's BBC - Radio1 show, WORLDWIDE.

I'm always open to collaborate and have been known to phish myspace for prospective partners. If you're down to get down on a beat or track, hit me up! I'm open as long as the time is there. Remember one thing too, if you're plans is to earn money from a track, I also plan on earning money from the track. Sounds fair to me. Let's all eat!

7. How do you feel about Hip-Hop Culture?

Despite what is being put out there right now by some of the people I look up to for their skillz, talent and longevity, Hip-hop is not dead! I know what they're saying but if its dead, then its over and I just don't accept that. We've all got a role to play in keeping its true spirit alive. I still hear dope hip-hop. Many of my boys make it themselves, but not everyones plugged into a community of producers that feed them steadily with the freshness. What's obvious is that it's just not easily accessible or in our face anymore like it used to be in the early - mid 90's and prior to those times. I have to have it passed to me on-line by friends in far away places or as i said earlier, I find the most creative stuff listening to on line radio. On line radio as it exists now is every true hip-hop head's savior. When that goes corporate and becomes over regulated as is starting to happen now, then we'll really have something to mourn and eulogize.

If you dont want to put the energy into seeking out the good, creative sh!t then yeah, hip-hop IS dead, but dead to you. Dont settle with the commercial. Seek out what you want. Laziness never built legacies!

8. Where can people hear your mixes and production?

Myspace of course:

Mixes can be streamed from my (beta) website:

9. What kind of venues do you like playing?

From intimate lounges to small to medium sized clubs with that good energy that the people dancing bring to it. Ain't nothing betta than a DOPE house party tho'! Making someones living room floor bounce always blows up your head.

10. How do you know Joe Villa??

In 1998 I accidentally strolled up into his Brooklyn crib looking for someone I was meeting for the first time. I knew this person lived near by. There was a cipher going on in Joe's spot that we could peep through the ground floor apartment window. Heads were chillin', makin beats and I though I was in the right place cause the vibe was so open and the guy I was going to meet was also into making music. After about 30 minutes somehow my crew started talking and asking questions that revealed that we were in the wrong damn apartment!!! It was a good night though. This is how I first met Joe Villa, his brother, Fili (RIP), Trevor Goodchilde and a host of other peoples that have enriched my experience here on this earth. I'm still glad for that mis-happening to this day!

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