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Home » Lyricist Lounge

When beats speak

Submitted by on January 23, 2010 – 9:46 amNo Comment


Whether Nu-Mark’s strumming a rubber band tied to his turntable’s needle like an upright bass, tapping on the table’s dust covers to simulate a drum kick, or puzzling onlookers by playing piano with re-wired children’s toys, his live sets stimulate the senses.

On stage, the beats enter his soul and his neck snaps at his Technics as a snake does its prey, capturing the attention and respect of any reticent bystander, his hands weave, vivaciously cutting the vinyl and his body is loud, bold, fierce and fearless.

“As a DJ you can fall in the line of just playing hits for the people,” the California native says. “But every now and again I gotta sneak some vegetables into the stew.”

DJ Nu-Mark is an original. For almost 20 years and spinning he’s been one of the most prolific DJ’s in the hip-hop world, touching down everywhere, as written in his MySpace bio, “from Sao Paolo to Sydney, Toronto to Tokyo, with carefully crafted, explosively energetic DJ sets that never fail to get a party rocking.”

In the spirit of allowing beats to not only speak, but say something, Nu-Mark’s skills stretch from the set to the studio. By crafting touchtones that fuse samples from his 35,000-record collection to an MPC and splicing that sound with soul, funk and hip-hop grooves, he has mastered the art of transforming old records into gold records.

Nu-Mark’s production credits include a project with partner Pomo penned Blend Crafters and a mix CD correctly coined Hands On, which helped introduce this continent to hip-hop spheres from around the globe which, he says, are not likely to be a viable or buyable commodity here in the near future.

“I don’t see it blowing up anytime soon, mostly because of the language barrier in the way,” he says. “But that’s why I put out my Hands On CD, because the States didn’t really embrace any French, or German, or Australian, or Japanese hip-hop, so I dedicated a section on the CD to those places just to kind of school the States a little bit about the hip-hop that’s going on in other countries, because it’s really dope.”

DJ Nu-Mark is also credited with crafting half of Jurassic 5’s classic collection. Quick to admit that he “can’t play anything melodic,” Nu-Mark still has no trouble listening, learning and building a lexicon from What’s Golden, In The House and Red Hot.

Red Hot, the twelfth track on J5’s most recent record Feedback, features The Dap Kings’ Nervous Like Me, a sample that the Swollen Members’ Rob The Viking used for the twelfth song on the Juno Award-winning Black Magic, produced at the same time, released in the same year and given almost the same name as the J5 rendition.

“That was the strangest one ever,” Nu-Mark says after hearing Viking’s track. “The weirdest thing about it is that they named theirs is Too Hot, and we named ours Red Hot. And what’s even stranger is that the original recording has nothing to do with the word hot at all, so I was blown away.”

While J5, one of the greatest groups to ever breathe life into contemporary hip-hop culture, has disbanded after almost a decade and a half in the game, Nu-Mark is far from despondent.

“We started out as kids and we had a good 14-year run that ran its course,” he says of the break-up. “Right now I’m doing runs like this in Canada where I can just go back to becoming a real music lover. And by DJing and playing out for people I can get a barometer, a gauge, as to what people are feeling these days.”

Nu-Mark says that rather than jumping into another album or mix CD, the only appointments in his agenda include playing live, shopping beats, “listening to other peoples’ music,” and, always, digging through his records for the next melody that possesses something sweet.

Remi L. Roy

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