Dopestyle: The few people who do like my show or whatever I do appreciate them. There's like a larger mass, that don't, it's not so much that they don't like it, it's just like they're closed minded. It's just something that they could never get into. So for the people who like my show, I feel like we're all like brothers and sisters kind of, in a certain aspect as far as the vibe, ya know? Its just being open minded and just trying to transcend and take it to the next level of hip-hop, you know, wherever. It's like hip-hop was taken from already established music, so basically what I try to do is to fuse hip-hop with non-hip-hop elements, thus creating an infinite revolving and evolving cycle of audio recyclery (the atomic structure of hip-hop).
Curl: Just the fact that you're so open, like you just... like you open the mic, "Hey, you got to get on,". It's not like "Oh, this is my show and I'm gonna dictate what's going on". To me it's... it's like, I think college radio should be community radio and that's how I see your show 'cause there's always a group of people down here and all of them participating, you know. Much props on that.
Dopestyle: Thanks. A lot of times people come to my show and try. There's a person now who comes to my show, his name is Excel. He didn't even rap at first so I was just like go for it and he has his own flavor, you know what I'm saying? There's gonna be people who are gonna listen to him and be like "who is this guy (makes a facial)?" But he's building. There's been a couple of other people who have done the same thing on my show. If it's your first time freestyling, you're not gonna come off like Riddler, or Genius, but you can see they're hungry. You can see that every time that Mike gets on the mic, he's hungry for the mic and pretty soon if you just sit back and watch him, pretty soon he's gonna be on his own level.
Curl: Just like the one guy who's a regular, the Insomniac. Just listening to him steadily improve. He's got his own style and it may throw you off at first but if you listen to it... damn! (dropped jaw facial). When did you start DJing? Was KZSU your first gig?
Dopestyle: Yeah, I remember I came down when D Man and Stevie T were the hip-hop directors. I came on D Man's show a couple of times and he was telling me about KZSU at the time when they were promoting the organizational meeting, and he said maybe I should get a show. So I was like, I'll go for it, I'll try. And it was just a good feeling, you know what I'm saying, 'cause basically the DJ classes are free. I interned with Kevvy Kev for a while and after I got my show I stayed on for a while and just tried to stay in touch with the vibe of the Drum. I learned a lot from Kevvy Kev from just being on his show. And then from there basically I broke off and then it just started. I had no predestination or major plans for my show, so I just said to myself "Dopestyle, just do what you feel." The goal is not so much being different to the point where, you know, you're absurd, where people can't appreciate you. That's been one of my main things with hip-hop is trying to be different. I don't want my show sounding like the next man's hip-hop show. You've got how many hip-hop shows here? It doesn't do us any good for us to all sound the same and all play the same things. So with my show I make an effort to play stuff that other DJs don't play and do things that other DJs wouldn't do. I think that makes my show unique in that aspect.
There's gonna be people out there that aren't going to like my show, but one thing that everyone has to agree on is that it's unique, it's different. As long as its like that, that I do my show for myself and for those people that can appreciate it, but its mainly for myself.
Basically, I'm just trying to keep an open mind as far as everything, as far as music. See, I listen to KZSU myself as much as I can when I get a chance to listen to it. I'm like flipping from KZSU to whatever else trying to open my mind up more and more. I get a sense that KZSU is like an extended family. Where, of course, you have members of your family that you don't get along with maybe, or they don't like you, or you fight or just whatever...
Curl: So what do you do during the day?
Dopestyle: I go to school full time and then at night I work at a theater. But my main thing is school. I know what I want in life. Basically I'm majoring in US history and I want to eventually get my Ph.D. in that. My goal is to be a US history professor. A historian in US history because I dig it so much so and there's so much about it. It extends, it's more than just being Afro- American, there's so much about it. You know your history, it's like a cliche, you know your past, you know your future. You see a pattern. You got people in Congress now like Gingrich talking this conservatism. I mean, 20 or 30 years ago it was the same thing. People now are saying this is a new thing, but if you sit back and just study it you'll find the similarities linking the present with the past. Also, I want to give something back to the larger society but at the same time I have to be a rugged individual. I feel strongly about not buckling into the masses and to the whole consortium living by the standards of society.
Curl: You just want to do your thing. You don't want to play no games.
Dopestyle: Exactly. If I stay DJing at KZSU until I'm 99 years old, I'll be happy. I'll have no wants and desires to be on KMEL or commercial radio because, basically, they're not the same. The whole purpose of music is escape or expression, but I feel commercial radio stunts it. They play the same songs in rotation, and it's like, you have one or two people saying "You can play this, you can't play that." Where's the freedom of expression? Let everyone get a chance to listen to something, if they don't like it then fine. There's a lot of people out there that listen to commercial radio that if they were exposed to KZSU they would end up loving it. But because of their surroundings and their environment, they never really get a chance to be exposed to KZSU. It's kinda like this hierarchy of the egotistical view. It's hard for them to come down and just like listen to music for what it is. Grunge, or punk, or acoustic, or whatever it is, it's like someone, if you just sit there and listen to it, most of the time it's someone, unless it's a bad song, it's someone putting their heart on vinyl. It's like their point of view of how they see things and if you listen to it, listening to someone else's point of view, it can provoke thought.
I'm sitting down here and I want to listen to Carly Simon. It's like I'm having a conversation with her by listening to her music. I give it a chance and I try to put myself into her music and see what I can get out of it. If I don't' get anything out of it then, whatever. That's what I do with hip-hop, with my show, with my music I'm just trying to push it to the next level doing it my own way and not buckling in any more to the world. Because the world art large is this monster, it's this, I don't know, this quagmire that's trying to push you a certain way, that's trying to...
Curl: How long have you been freestyling?
Dopestyle: I've been freestyling since probably like '83. When I first started freestyling I'd be in my room and I didn't have any equipment so basically I'd be in my room all day alone by myself and I would just start tapping my fingers on the walls (makes sound of tap) like that. I would just be in my room all day long, tapping the walls and busting freestyles to myself and I'd come up with these little concepts and I'd try to get real crazy and get crazy creative with some things. Basically for me it was an escape because the environment that I grew up in was very negative.
Curl: Where did you grow up?
Dopestyle: East Palo Alto. And certain people, elements of my family, my close immediate family, were negative and bad. At one time I was out there selling drugs; I didn't care for my people. I didn't care for myself. It was all about that money, you know, that money factor, that green factor. My mother became terminally ill and that's kinda what made me change. For me, I felt like it was always there because anything I did I tried to be creative with it, even on the corner selling drugs I was out there trying to think of a way to innovate my way of doing things. It's like OK he's selling drugs his way I'm gonna try to figure out a better way to sell my drugs. It's just always been there. It's like, once my mother died, which was like about 4 years ago, I was kinda like in a tailspin and I was totally emerged in the world. I was super; I was Mr. Ego. The way I treated some people in the world, as well as DJs here at KZSU, it's just that ego factor and I was like that and I really didn't give a fuck about the music or whatever. It was just like it was all about women, and, you know, money, and the hos, and partying but then I just like woke up one day and I was just like this isn't me, this is not what I want and this music is something... I enjoy this music, I love this music, and I totally appreciate it and I take it serious and here I am sitting here and you know and not using it to my potential. Not getting my message across because if I never, if something happens to me tomorrow, if I never make it to be, never get my Ph.D. and be a you know professor or whatever,... I mean this is my one shot now where I can get my message across and why fuck that up?
Curl: Do you write stuff down? I've only heard you freestyle.
Dopestyle: Yeah definitely. I write stuff down. I'm doing stuff now is with this group called the Kamikaze Killers and basically, it's just, you know, what it is, it's just like dropping bombs, suicidal mission bombs on the establishment, on the commercial establishment of hip-hop, and not just that, but society. It's like me and the people I roll with we look at ourselves as these Third-world Freedom Fighters, you know, and I mean it's like I'm not trying to say that we're to the point that we're just totally like alien to the world. I mean, everyday you are influenced by other people and things you see and images so I can't say seriously that I am totally the most original person in the world, no one really is but I'm just saying, the fact is we make knowledgeable decisions on what we accept or what we don't accept, what you are gonna go with or not. You know, so basically it's me, my name is Clep the Contortionist, aka, Dopestyle Kamikaze number two, then there's my partner Kamikaze, no, Quasimoto, aka, Dopestyle Kamikaze number one, there's Overflow, aka, Dopestyle Kamikaze number three and then there's Style and Radiance, aka, Dopestyle number four and basically our thing is just what's happening in society, lot of the just trying to create, like staying, staying true to the hip-hop as far as the underground vibe of it, you know what I'm saying ?
Basically, we're just trying to put our stuff out on our own. It's like what everyone else is doing basically; it's like we're putting down our message and we're not taking any prisoners and it's all about taking over the world, you know.
Curl: Where do you get your mixing sampling style being a DJ? Are there any outside influences or is that your individuality again just doing what you feel, doing what you like?
Dopestyle: I can't name anyone as far as my style of mixing, but I know they're there cause the way my mind works my mind isn't very, um how should I say it, not very, I don't know the word I'm looking for, there's some people out there who are just they're very...For example I'm not good with numbers. It's like for example, it's like you have one day that is held special. Like, on that day, time stops because this is my girlfriend's birthday, but for me it's like everything for me is like a continuous cycle. So yes, my girlfriend was born September the thirteenth, but every time that September the thirteenth comes around, I mean I don't even notice it because everything to me it's like flowing. It's like numbers, things for me don't stop.
I don't label things. When I listen to MCs, when I listen to groups, I very rarely try to stereotype well they kinda sound like Bobby Joe mixed in with this. I kinda like try to listen to it on its own accord. And the way my mind works is like I don't stop, I don't like emphasize on periods of time. The September the thirteenth last year is not the same as September the thirteenth this year. And I get a lot of bad stuff from my ex-girlfriend and people I know, it's like "Hey, my birthday was today and you just didn't remember!" It's not that I decided it's not important to me, but life to me is different everyday. Different even though it's just like I've lived through twenty-two December thirty-firsts (that's my birthday), it's like everything is continual so that's how I do my mixes. Everything is continual like whether it's hip-hop or it's opera. Something about it in my mind which I can't say or I don't know is all connected. To me, when I hear something and I put it together it's like something about it is connecting to me and that's why it comes out the way it does. That's how it is with music, you know, I listen to death metal. I have been going down to Christine Death's show trying to get into the vibe of death metal you know trying to give it a chance. I kid around with her like "RARARAR," you know, but I really try to get into what these people... again I'm trying to have a conversation with these people and trying to see where they're coming from and look at it like that, and everythings just flowing. I mean it's like there's your punk, people want to label stuff well that's like black music, that's white music; not really, you know what I'm saying? Personally, we all know where it originated from and from there it stemmed out but if we really get down to it it's not very different. What I'm saying, I see more the similarities in things than differences. Like with people, so when I mix that's what I do.
Curl: Hopefully, KZSU readers will get to know you a bit better. I just wanted to pick your brain and hopefully get some insight.