Tapemasta: Straight up, it's a honor to know these guys & watched them grow..If you respect the game & believe me, it'll respect you !! These guys are what you call the REAL DEAL..Read the interview & see the KNOWLEDGE of what was passed on to them..POW !! Shout to Air Force Montana...
I remember about a year ago, downloading a couple of Mixtapes from Hevehitta and DJ Unexpected off of LiveMixtapes.com. At first I thought that Hevehitta was part of Dj Enuff’s Heavy Hitters Crew until I paid attention to the spelling of Hevehitta’s name. I noticed that all of the Mixtapes that I had downloaded had a “Scratch Intro”. A “Scratch Intro” I said to myself, Hmm… This day and age to come across a Mixtape with a “Scratch Intro” was like trying to find a Needle in a Haystack! The first Mixtape that I downloaded was the Clipse’s “Boxcutter Business”. This Mixtape held my eardrums hostage from beginning to end. Not only am I a huge Clipse’s fan! This Mixtape had the right ingredients of a REAL Mixtape! There was the Scratch Intro, Blends, Cutting, Freestyles, Scratching and Snippets of Lyrics and movies. This was BANANAS! I recently had the opportunity to interview them and learn what it takes to make a DOPE Mixtape and about thediggersunion! Check out the interview…
Hevehitta & DJ Unexpected “Last of a Dying Breed”
Where are you guys from?
Hevehitta: I’m from a small town in upstate New York called La Grange. It’s right next to Poughkeepsie, New York and is about 1 1/2 hours away from New York City.How did you guys meet?
DJ Unexpected: I’m from the Bronx, where it all started. I moved to Astoria (Queens) 3 years ago.
DJ Unexpected: My mixtape partner at the time, Kochece was looking for ways to get new songs for his/our projects. My graphic designer at the time (Miami Kaos) introduced me to Hevehitta, who was working at college radio in Poughkeepsie. He was able to get songs for us, and in return, we introduced him to the mixtape game (putting a project together, promotion etc.). This was late 2005. We have been consistently releasing projects ever since.Who inspired you guys to become Deejays?
Hevehitta: First off, I don’t consider myself a DJ. I don’t feel I have earned that title. But, to answer your question, when I picked up my first ever mixtape (DJ Whoo Kid x Stretch Armstrong “Final Destination Pt.2″), that is what made me want to pursue a career in the mixtape game. That mixtape really changed the way I looked at hip-hop, and made me become a true fan rather than a casual listener.What Deejays do you consider the Pioneers of the Mixtape game?
DJ Unexpected: I’ve wanted to DJ since I got into Hip Hop at the age of 6. I loved seeing the DJ scratch and mix and control the crowd. One of my fondest inspirations was hearing “The Magnificent Jazzy Jeff” by DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince. Remember the part where Jeff made it sound like a bird was chirping by scratching? That was it for me! Before I became a DJ, I would get up at 6 A.M., put on the headphones and listen to records I bought with allowance on my little stereo. I know I drove my parents crazy with it as well, but my dad is to blame for getting me into Hip Hop. He bought me the first Fat Boys album, and that was it! I got my first setup on my 16th birthday, and have been DJing ever since. As of this interview, I’m 34.
Hevehitta: It’s impossible to list everyone, but here are few that come to mind: Doo Wop, Kid Capri, Brucie B, DJ Clue?, DJ Kayslay, DJ Dirty Harry, DJ SNS, DJ Chill Will (FTE) and Ron G.How do you feel about the evolution of the Mixtape Game?
DJ Unexpected: I feel the same as Heve, but my earliest memories were of Triple C, Ron G, Double R and G-Bo The Pro, DJ Showtime, Clue?, D-Demo, etc. DJ Chill Will was definitely my inspiration as far as blends were concerned, plus he took a stand against usurpers when no one else wanted to. I’ll always respect him for that.
Hevehitta: The mixtape game definitely took a major turn once the internet became a major factor. Mixtape DJ’s abandoned the streets and went straight to the internet. Most of today’s mixtape DJ’s don’t even press their mixtapes anymore. I guess myself and DJ Unexpected are the last of a dying breed when it comes to pressing physical copies of our mixtapes. One change I’m not feeling is artists dropping projects without a DJ and calling it a “mixtape.” I always feel that if you’re going to call your project a mixtape, you need to have a DJ attached to it in some way. It’s sad to see the DJ be put on the back burner when we made mixtapes popular to begin with. Respect the DJ!What does it take to make a Mixtape?
DJ Unexpected: Love how it started, hate how it’s ending up. Technology did more to hurt than help in my opinion, but DJ’s and artists are to blame as well. I entered the game at the tail end of its legacy (2004). I remember when sites like datpiff.com were being frowned upon. Once a few people put out projects for free, it was monkey see monkey do. Fans have actually complained about a DJ mixing and scratching on a project! Are you kidding me? It’s a shame this has become the norm nowadays.
Hevehitta: Patience is the first word to come to mind. You need a lot of patience to put together a mixtape… unless you’re one of those internet mixtape creators who just throws 20 tracks into a folder and calls it a day. Another thing I would recommend is to plan out your mixtape. Create an outline if you need to. I have found it easier to outline the entire mixtape before making it, so when it comes to creating, you know exactly what to do and in what order. Organization is key. Tracks, drops, remixes, etc should all be in one folder. The last thing you want to be doing is searching through your crates (or digital crates) every few minutes trying to find what you need. There is a method to this mixtape madness.
DJ Unexpected: A DJ, first and foremost! I get highly offended every time an artist announces their “mixtape”, which is the latest euphemism for “album my label didn’t want to put out”! It’s a street album; call it what it is! Stop abusing the term many of us fought to create and preserve! You need a LOT of patience in dealing with artists, and sometimes your inner critic as well; I know I do! Ideas sometimes come when I least expect them; Hevehitta and I have created countless projects from random ideas or jokes. We definitely plan our releases though, with great attention to detail and organization. We hope it shows in the finished product!
What skills must a Mixtape Deejay posses?
Hevehitta: Each DJ is different when it comes to skill. Your skill could be getting exclusives before anyone else, while another DJ’s skill could be scratching and blending. I never felt like you needed a set of certain skills to put together a good mixtape. The one thing I would recommend for all mixtape DJ’s is to know your music. Know ALL the music you’re about to play on your mixtape. If you know the music, you could use it to your advantage. You might be playing a track thatcontains a theme from a certain film, and now you can take a piece of dialog from that film to set up the track. The little bits and pieces is what can enhance your mixtape.What is the thought process that goes into your Mixtapes?
DJ Unexpected: You should have some basic skills. Come on man, learn how to mix on beat and do some cutting, otherwise don’t call yourself a Hip Hop DJ! There are DJs in different genres of music who do none of those things and that’s fine, but they don’t consider themselves Hip Hop DJ’s. A big key is definitely knowing your music. Serato has made it easy to beat match, but that doesn’t mean those 2 songs go together. It’s all about creating a mood, and when it’s done correctly it’s amazing. Imagination is a big factor to me as well-people, don’t be afraid to think outside the box once in a while. You might be pleasantly surprised.
Hevehitta: Unexpected and I usually start out with a theme for a mixtape, and then proceed to collect all the music and dialog we are going to use for it. The creation process is a lot of trial and error. We keep certain ideas, and disregard others. What most people don’t realizeis that our final product has gone through many revisions. We usually never complete a mixtape on the first go around. A lot of times we will scrap certain sections, and remake them until we are satisfied.I want people to know what Unexpected and I put a lot of time and effort into our mixtapes, and that’s why we ask for a small fee to listen to them. A little compensation doesn’t hurt.Can you name a few of your Mixtape Series?
DJ Unexpected: What can we do now that we haven’t already done? We’re always trying new styles due to time always moving forward and biters always lurking. Just know that plenty of time and effort goes into each release we do. There are many ideas or mixes that sound great in our heads, but once recorded, don’t work; hence they meet the garbage can. We seldom do projects just because so and so is hot right now, or has an LP dropping in 2 weeks. Trends expire quickly while trendsetters never go out of style.
Hevehitta: Our current stand out series would have to be the “Martial Arts Mixtape Series.” That series was started based on our love for Shaw Brothers Kung-Fu films. Another series that is definitely well known is Unexpected’s “Look What I Found” break beats/samples series. I’ll let him explain that.Who is the Diggers Union?
DJ Unexpected: “Look What I Found’ is the one I’m definitely known for. I get the original breaks/samples and show you how producers flip them into the songs you know today. It gives you an appreciation for what producers go through when they’re digging to find that beat you’ll always remember. Recycled Material (Old-School blends) is another series, along with the Motion Picture/Martial Arts series aforementioned. I also have different genres with their own series as well (eg. “The Digital Coloring Book”(dance music) and an upcoming classic Dancheall Reggae series).
DJ Unexpected: I created it in 2006, and it was just going to be a collective of people (mainly DJ’s) who accumulate and preserve recorded music. It blossomed into a crew and we have released 2 volumes in a series called “You Call That Diggin?”, but some members have gone their own ways with side projects etc. It was basically a way to show appreciation for people seeking out obscure records and informing the public about them. The original members were myself, Hevehitta, Tapemasta, DJ Showtime, DJ Casper (Florida),DJ 151 (Long Island, NY), Mike Nice, Scratchmasta Jazzy G, DJ Osk, DJ Books, DJ Rob Shock, DJ Crazy Chris and DJ Smooth Denali. Many are still on the scene today, just not in mixtape form.What is the Diggers Union Mission Statement?
DJ Unexpected: “Enjoy and Be Educated” (patent pending) is the primary goal. I’ve been using that since my first release in 2004 (Kane Vs. Hova), and we do our best to stick to it. We’re a group of conoisseurs who are passionate about acquiring and preserving recorded music.What can we expect from the Diggers Union?
DJ Unexpected: The website (thediggersunion.com) is doing well, so that will be a factor for years to come. Shoutout to Hevehitta for keeping the site updated, and to all who visit.We’ll keep releasing projects you’re sure to enjoy, so keep enjoying and we’ll keep educating. Shouts to the big homie Air Force Montana at SneakersandAle.com! Peace people and remember, life is a sample, dig it?Hevehitta “The Mixtape Architect”
The Diggers Union Local 120
Twitter (Hevehitta): twitter.com/hevehitta
Twitter (Unexpected): twitter.com/DJUnexpected