Miss DJ MJ on Mouse Powell, Ladylike, and Sluggo ft. HavocNdeeD

Categories: Sound Off

Clockwise from top left: Miss DJ MJ, Mouse Powell, Ladylike, Sluggo
"I know hits when I hear them," Miss DJ MJ says, hanging out in the New Times office.

I believe her. She's been on the air for 10 years, working as music director at Power 98.3. She recently left the station, but not before becoming the first female on-air mixer in Arizona.

I ask DJ MJ for her album of the year, and she states Kanye West's My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. Technically, that's a 2010 release, but we get it. DJ MJ likes pop music, but pop music that isn't afraid to explore sounds and themes.

With that in mind, we tuned into three local tracks by "Mighty" Mouse Powell, Ladylike, and Sluggo ft. HavocNdeeD.

Mouse Powell released a new album, Where Its Cloudy. He performs tonight as part of The How the Grouch Stole Christmas show tonight at Club Red.

Up on the Sun: What did you think about that?

Miss DJ MJ: Very nice! I loved it. He gives a shout out to Phoenix, "60 and the 10." He's not talking about dumb stuff, he's actually talking about how he wants to make it. He has dreams and goals, and the sample and just everything [in the song] sounds good.

It's interesting, because it has a beat that refuses to be predictable. Every time you start to get into the groove, bobbing your head, it backs off, and the rhythm fades away. And then comes back. Fantastic production.

It's not boring. It flows, and he has an underground appeal, which could generate him a following. I love his style, and the singing on the hook is just "lala," just cute singing," but it's "rollin'," and it's him doing it.

We mentioned Kanye before, and one of the things I love about Kanye is when he sings his hooks. He doesn't have a traditionally great voice, he's not even on key, but it's him. It feels like it's really him. 808s and Heartbreak, where everything was Auto Tuned...I like some of that record a lot, but it didn't feel as real as his other stuff.

It didn't feel real, but with that album, I could feel his pain. [It felt like] I was in his shoes; I understood.

It demonstrated the risks he was willing to take. He lost some people with that, but that willingness was just such a big step. And then he followed it was Fantasy. He proved he was willing to take the risks, and then came back with a record that had that riskiness but also hits.

Everyone's life is different. He took a risk by telling us what he was going through at that moment. I like that he didn't put himself into one corner, like, "This is the only Kanye West you'll hear." He said, "I'm a broader person, I'm an artist. I can do different things."

Which is why something like this is really indicative of what's going on: he's talking about himself. All hip-hop is that, the MC sharing themselves, but more and more it feels like some of the "rules" about creating multidimensional pictures of yourself have changed. Someone like The Game isn't rapping about being insecure, or scared, but more popular rappers (records like Drake, Childish Gambino) are moving toward that, and Mouse is doing that, too.

We could be going into something different with the music. This "Rollin'" record and this artist demonstrates a side of himself where he doesn't have to be [anything but] himself. This sample, the singing on the hook, that risk...he's doing his own thing. He didn't go get a girl and say, "Can you sing "rollin'" like this? He did it.

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