DJ John Blaze Talks SB 1070, Public Enemy, Capone-N-Noreaga, Local Hip-hop, and More
Besides pissing off big-name recording artists and motivating them to boycott Arizona, last month's passage of SB 1070 became an absolute call to arms for those in the local music scene. And one of the first artists to answer the call was DJ John Blaze.
Along with P-Town hip-hop siren Queen YoNasDa, the outspoken mixmaster and producer helped organize the creation of "Back 2 AZ (Anti 1070)," a fierce eight-minute "fuck you" to Governor Jan Brewer, state senator Russell Pearce, and anyone else behind the passage of the "papers please" law. It features a slew of local rappers and other wordsmiths (including Tajji Sharp, Atllas, Yung Face, Mr. Miranda, and Ocean) and -- fittingly enough -- samples the same backing beat as Public Enemy's 1991 track "By The Time I Get To Arizona."
Blaze not only contributed the song to our recently released protest compilation A Line In The Sand (click here to purchase a copy) but also took time out of his busy schedule to participate in this week's DJ Dossier.
Name: John Blaze
AKA: The Talk of the Town
How did you I got started as a DJ: I've loved all kind of music, but I wasn't to get to it until a certain point in my life. I played basketball a lot growing up, so that was kind of my number one thing. But once I got to the end of that I picked up the music thing, I knew I had a passion for music and I loved hip-hop and kind of just went from there.
Current club nights: I've been a resident at PHX Nightclub in the past, I've done nights at Club Rain, and I'm gonna be doing some nights at Suede in July. But for the most part I'm doing a lot of guest appearances right now.
Genres spun: Mostly just hip-hop, R&B, and Top 40. I like to include everything, depending on the crowd, which really is what I base everything off of. But for the most part it's hip-hop. I like doing the classic stuff, but -- like I said -- it just depends on the crowd.
Best experience as a DJ: I DJ for Arizona artist Queen YoNasDa and she tours a lot with Wu-Tang Clan and others. And this past winter we did a tour with Raekwon, which also featured Capone-N-Noreaga, and we did West Coast dates through the Midwest and all the way to the East Coast. That was a pretty cool experience because it's not just a club thing. I don't consider myself just a club DJ. I do the clubs, I do the mixtapes, and I perform onstage with artists. That might be the coolest, to be in a new city every night and to be places I've never been before.
What's your opinion of the Phoenix hip-hop scene? There's a lot of talent and it's just kinda like a ticking bomb waiting to blow up. I work a lot with the local artists and I see talent all over the place, and it just amazes me how some of these artists aren't known more than they are.
What would you do to change it? I'm doing my part as a DJ in making the hip-hop scene (or just the music scene in general) in Phoenix more than what it is by working with these artists, putting these projects together, and making them shine more than they would on their own. A lot of DJs here don't take the time to work with the local artists. Hip-hop has always been DJs breaking the records of new artist, and that doesn't happen here. There's maybe a couple that might work with underground or local artists, but for the most part there isn't many. I like to bring people together in my projects. The whole 1070 song kinda represents what I do.
How so? I had a vision of what needed to be said and how it needed to be done. And we brought in artists that didn't even know each other. There were artists on there that didn't even know that the other artist rapped or did music. It was kind of cool because I just sat back and watched, when we recorded the video, all these artists meeting each other. One thing that I've always said is that Arizona hip-hop is not gonna go anywhere until people start backing and supporting each other.