featured interview

Sloppy White Get some! III Most Wanted, Magnetic Force, Blackmale, we cherish their albums like a grey goose sticks to his pullet. Only one man is responsible for introducing us to these gems: DJ Sloppy White. Known and cheered at for his late 80s/early 90s mix tapes-with-excellent-packaging and stuffed with rare and slept-on jewels, this Chicagoan DJ has made quite a name amongst the diggers. 'Get Some' is his third mix tape and plays non-stop in our office, takin us back to the golden days of rap. Time for a chat.

First of all, for those who don?t know, can you introduce yourself?

Hello, my name is Sloppy White. Supreme rap dork.

When did you start DJ?in?

I started messing around with decks in the late 90?s, but have been into music going back to my College days (late 80?s).

When did you start collecting records?

I started gathering records back in the late 80?s. I grew up in Alabama where there were crazy amounts of thrift stores and flea markets. It was so cheap to buy records back then which was great because you could afford to make a lot of ?blind purchases?. Back then, you kind of had to, as there wasn?t a real source for information like the Internet is today. I mean there was Goldmine and what not but I wasn?t looking for Elvis or Beatles records.

What was the first rap record you bought?

I can?t remember exactly the first, but it was probably something like Run-DMC?s ?Run-DMC?, UTFO?s ?UTFO?, Doug E Fresh?s ?The Show? 12?? or Egyptian Lover?s ?Egypt, Egypt? 12??. Basically the stuff that everyone played at high school parties (early to mid-80?s). I was into break dancing at the time, especially pop locking so stuff like ?Egypt, Egypt? or Freestyle ?Don?t Stop the Rock? would get me hyped. I remember one time getting chased out of a mall by security because me and two of my friends caused a ruckus performing the routine from the ?Thriller? video. We did the normal routine but changed it up with more break dancing and poppin. The crowd went nuts. One of my friends was pissed because he had to jet without his boom-box. We were called the Oreos. Yep?? you guessed it, two black dudes with me, the ?creamy cracker?, in the middle.

What was the latest rap record you bought?

I just got Omega Watts ?The Find? recently which is super tight. Also, Fourtet?s ?Joy? 12?? with Percee P is insanely good shit!

What are good digging spots in Chicago?

Oh man, there used to be so many pre-eBay. There were a lot of little warehouses that were tucked away in certain spots in the city that would get in odd stuff. By that I mean a wide range of genres, so a lot of digging was involved but you would find good stuff from hip-hop to punk rock. When I moved up to Chicago from Alabama in ?94 I started working at Reckless Records. I worked with Rick Wojcik who used to be the main soul/funk/jazz buyer at Reckless before he started Dusty Groove. He was incredibly knowledgeable and hipped me to a lot of good records. He was the kind of dude that saw you looking at an obscure jazz record and would proceed to tell you the ?story? behind the label. He knows his shit. Back then there would be sellers coming in from the South Side of Chicago with amazing titles. Original copies of the Pharaohs album, Phil Cohran LPs (sometimes autographed), tons and tons of Blue Notes. He had some great digging spots, man. He took me to a few on the South Side back then that were just dirty basements with boxes upon boxes of sealed records.

At the time Rick was also selling funk 45?s that he had found through his spots. Heads weren?t really copping them at that point for the crazy prices you see now. People were still into full length LP?s at the time too (at least in Chicago). He would come up to me with a box full of multiple stock copies of stuff like Tony Alvon & The Belairs ?Sexy Coffee Pot? and say, ?You got a copy of this? Good stuff! I?ll sell you one for 7 bucks.?? 7 bucks for that massive 45!?! Jesus, those were the days. Now he?s got an empire. I did the Dusty logo for him back when I first started doing graphic design which was when he first started that shop selling records out of an apartment. They?re still using the logo today. It?s weird to know your artwork is being seen everyday by people all over the world. Nowadays as far as digging goes, it?s a little tougher, but if you hit enough ?mom and pop?? stores you might get some finds.

Do you dig ?internationally??

Not really, with the exception of ?digital digging? on eBay and Gemm. But anywhere I visit I?ll try to find some spots.

Do you listen to a lot of contemporary rap music? If so, who are your favourites?

I listen to a lot of new shit, but it?s kind of hard to keep up. Right now as far as ?Contemporary Rap? stuff goes, I?m listening to:

DJ Format ?If You Can?t Beat?em Join?em?
Edan ?Beauty and the Beat?
Cage ?Hell?s Winter?
Felt 2 (Murs & Slug) ?Tribute to Lisa Bonet?
Boom Bap Project ?Reprogram?
Glue ?Sunset Lodge?
Dangerdoom ?The Mouse and the Mask?

?Get Some? is your third mix tape. Which one are you most proud of?

I?m proud of them all. I wish I would have had the loot to package ?The Way It Was? like an actual Power Records comic book and record set. That was my initial thinking, but that got out of scope real fast. And it would have taken a long time to draw/write the comic to fit the theme of the mix. But I?d have to say ?Get Some? is the one I feel real good about mostly. I guess because of all the samples I dug out watching hours and hours of trucker B-movies. I had nightmares of Ernest Borgnine at one point. Plus I went totally outside the box for the packaging. There was a lot of research and trial/error in putting the packaging together (mo hours, mo hours, mo hours). In the end when I slid the first mud flap into the plastic sleeve it looked and felt so good. It?s like each person is getting a hand-made piece of art from my point of view.

You?ve put a lot of 12??s on your latest mix tape who are not on an album, any particular reason for that?

No particular reason... but there were a lot of artists/groups back in the day that put out singles on small labels or smaller subsidiaries that never made it to record a full length. So some of the obscure stuff was only available on 12? singles.

What are some of your favourite tracks on the new mix tape?

Well I put 2 strong cuts from that Def IV album on there. I was really into that album when I was putting the mix together. Rap-A-Lot needs to throw that back into rotation. Not what you would expect from that label at all. The Gee and Jay track, ?Get Some?, is pretty raw with the banjos and beats. It fit the theme of the mix to a T so I used that as the mix?s title. It?s amazing how many people have positively responded to that Kid N Play track ?Gittin Funky?. If you find the UK version of that single not only do you get the album mix which is super nice, but you get a remix by Danny D that?s equally as hype and not on the domestic pressing. I also love that Grand Daddy IU cut, ?Soul Touch?. Biz Markie and Cutmaster Cool V put together some nice beats back in the day. ?Going Straight Up? by Hot Day Dante and crew is lyrical heat! I seem to be going on and on here, but all the cuts on there are all favourites of mine so it?s hard to talk about just a few.

What are some of your dollar-bin miracles findings?

Most of them have come from small thrift shops during the early 90?s in the Southern States. Some good ones have been:

Del Jones ?Positive Vibes?
Melvin Jackson ?Funky Skull?
Krown Rulers ?Paper Chase?
Sir Fresh and DJ Critical ?I?m Smooth?

You obviously have a passion for rare records. Do you feel like it?s your mission to reveal these pieces and spread 'em to the audience?

When I hear a mix whether it?s funk, soul, hip-hop or whatever, I like to know who it was that ?moved me? on ?track 6?. Maybe ?they? made more joints of the same calibre that I can enjoy if I take the time to track down their music. So I think it?s somewhat important to let the audience know who they?re listening to. If you have the opportunity to educate the listener about an artist, then that?s a double bonus.

Do you think you still have many more unknown but classic joints to surprise the people with?

(laughs) If they?re unknown then they can?t be classic. But seriously, I?d like to think I have some more goodness to share. Hell, I?m still learning too. There?s a lot out there.

You - being a creative mind and graphic designer- have been chasing the craziest ideas for the packaging of your ?tapes?. Were/Are you that kind of collector who's been checkin out the artwork from his collection in and out?

Oh yeah, big time. Having a collection of records is also like having a graveyard of ideas, musically and visually. If I get stuck on a design or need inspiration, I usually just thumb through some records and something will spark an idea.

By puttin a lot of work in the ?packaging? of your mix tapes, also the website and the info on the tracks, how much time goes in that?

More than I care to think about. But it?s one of those kinds of things where you start working on it after work and before you know it the sun?s coming up through the window. Time flies by when you?re doing something you?re really into.

Could you tell us some more about ?Lick My Gimmick??

Everyone has a gimmick whether they know it or not. To me a gimmick is the way you wear your hat, the way you walk and even the way you sign your name. I had always thought ?Lick My Gimmick? was a good line for a label, a production company or whatever. It just has the right ?sass? to me. So right now I?m using it as a ?label? for the CD?s. I might do something else with it in the future.

You sometimes feature on the Solid Steel shows. Tell us more about that, what kinds of music do you play there?

DK, Strictly Kev and Coldcut have a great syndicated show in Solid Steel Radio. They feature great guests and you can always expect to hear awesome genre busting sets ranging from new to old stuff. I?ve been fortunate to have done a couple of sets for their show. I usually play current Indie hip-hop, beat oriented stuff like the Quantic camp (Nostalgia 77, Natural Self) to funk and soul. There would be stuff like Plant Life, Gorillaz or Jamie Lidell thrown in too. That Jamie Lidell album ?Multiply? is great!

You?re on some rare end-of-80s/early 90s rap, is that your favourite rap era?

Um, I?d say for the most part, yeah. But I dig the entire hip-hop time-line really.

Say it's 1988, what group would you try to be gig-dj for?

Stetsasonic or I guess anyone in the Native Tongues collective. There was just sooo much creativity going on in those camps.

Would you do a tape on - let's say - the mid-90's? Or don't you have a bond with that later period?

People have asked me if a mid 90?s mix is coming. I love that period too, so maybe.

Talking about mid-90s mix tapes have you checked out DJ CAde Money?s (aka Cadence) ?Built For The 90s??

Raw Pro does some good shit. They did a really good job with their last album and you can tell the vibe is influenced from that era. I haven?t heard ?Built for the 90s? but I?ll have to track a copy down. Joey Beats put out a nice 90?s mix called ?The Day Boom Bap Died? which was a promotional thing being sold with the excellent Non-Prophets album he did with Sage Francis.

Did you get your inspiration out of Edan and DJ Ivory mix tapes?

Actually I was on the tail end of putting ?Fat Tape? together when ?Fast Rap? and the first ?Hear No Evil? came out. I think that was around early 2002 ish. I was actually inspired by the lack of mixes or comps from this era at the time. I mean, yeah, there were mixes out there with Native Tongue stuff, BDP, PE, etc. The more common stuff you?d probably heard before, but no one went deeper than that or at least that I was aware of at the time. So I was glad to see E and Ivory put their mixes out. Ivory got amped when I sent him ?Fat Tape? and he found out that there was an actual Makeba & Skratch album. I don?t think it took him very long to track down a copy after that. The P Brothers do their home work and have their connections, that?s for sure. At the time I wish I had an extra to trade for a copy of 360 Degrees. Edan?s mixes are great too. He?s coming out with a Beat Box mix that I?m sure will be bonkers. But I?d say his own music is totally inspirational. ?Beauty and the Beat?? Game over?? beautifully done.

What are some of your favourite mix tapes (from other DJ?s)?

Aside from the aforementioned fellas, here?s some that are in current rotation:

Dj Food ?? ?Raiding the 20th Century?
Tuner Control ?? ?Air Raid?? vol 2?
Ruckus Roboticus ?? ?The Record Playa?
Soulsavers ?? ?Staring At the Radio Staying Up All Night?
DJ Green Lantern ?? ?Fort Minor: We Major?
DJ Mike 2600 King ?? ?Class Cut & Eat Paste?
Ant ?? ?Melodies and Memories 85-89?

What other mix tapes/releases have you done? Any breaks mixtapes?

Besides the new one, ?Get Some?, I?ve released ?Fat Tape? and ?The Way It Was?. I?ve messed around with some break mixes but none that I?ve released publicly. There are so many already out there.

Could you give me the 5 most important ingredients for a good tape?

I?m in no way a ?master DJ? but I?ve been listening to mixes and music for long time. Here are 5 that I think could be applied to any mix of any genre (in no particular order of importance).

1) Be different. Don?t be afraid to try something outside of the norm whether it?s the way you?re approaching the mix technically or with the song selection. That brings me to my next point??

2) Song Selection is key. You can be the best technically apt DJ in the world but if you?re not a strong selector then your shit will fall flat. I?ve had people give me mixes that do not have any ?trickery? or blends, but because of the juxtaposition and sequence of their selections, they created a mood that moved me. See the ?Chains and Black Exhaust? CD.

3) Sound quality is important. Nothing?s more annoying in my opinion than a hype mix that?s degraded with shitty sound quality.

4) Concept/theme. I think its fun to have a common theme running through your mix be it the type of songs and/or samples you use. It sort of holds everything together and can help you come up with your artwork.

5) Artwork/Design. With any product it?s important to have good design to catch people?s interest.

Are you never left with a double itchy feelin' if you've been lookin for a joint/LP for years, then put it on tape so people only have to grab and listen? Isn't that the biggest contradiction for a dj like you?

Not at all. I mean if I have something that I think is ?special?, I?ll hold on to it until I can put it on a mix. But I?ll definitely share it at some point. Like I said earlier, it?s all about spreading the knowledge and celebrating this culture. Especially this particular time period. And it?s cool when you put something on a mix and then see it get the reissue treatment like the ?First Priority Basement Flavor? comp or the Tall Dark and Handsome LP. I have nothing against reissues either. I think they?re extremely important.

Every time DJ's like you, or DJ ivory,... release a mixtape, fans start desperately looking for them classic joint on eBay. In some way you could say that tapes/mix cd's are somehow and partly responsible for the high prices on eBay. Do you agree with or what is your view on this?

Whether you agree with it or not, when an artist gets hyped via a mix CD or whatever, you create demand. Unfortunately there?s just not a lot of these records floating around, therefore prices can get a little crazy. Even the CD versions (if they were pressed). That?s why I like to have a nice mixture of the rare stuff PLUS obscure/overlooked artists that can be relatively easy to track down and purchased for a decent price. I also like the ?oh snap!? factor when someone finds out (or forgets) about an album cut from an accessible record. Something like LL Cool J?s ?Why Do You Think They Call It Dope??, for example, is?? well, dope! And then they can pretty easily go out and get that record (if they don?t already have it).

The same can be said for the ?lesser knowns? who made records for subsidiaries of major labels that are probably sitting in a store collecting dust or laying around on eBay on the cheap. Albums by groups like the Wise Guyz, Doctor Ice, Blackmale, Larry Larr, K-9 Posse, etc. I mean they?re not all solid records from start to finish, but they all have at least 3 to 5 dope cuts on ?em. And you could probably get ?em on vinyl or CD for the cost of new 12?? single. Now just watch, as I say this, these albums get pricey??

Do you buy a lot on Ebay?

Sure?? You can find great stuff on eBay. But I won?t pay crazy prices for wax unless it?s something I?ve really been trying to track down for a while.

The songs you pick for the mixtapes usually have these funky, pretty famous funk breaks, what are some of your favourite breaks you can think of right now?

Rufus Thomas ?Funky Penguin? intro is killer. Funk Inc.?s ?Kool Is Back? drums are hype too. Miami ?Chicken Yellow?. ?Jungle Jazz? by Kool and the Gang. Shit, there?s tons. You know what has a lot of good shit on it that?s an easy find and cheap is the self-titled KC and the Sunshine Band album. Plus it?s a crowd pleaser?? win, win.

When and where in God?s name did you find the Ruthless Rod & MC Dollar EP? Seems almost impossible (unless you live in Chicago I guess)!

I copped that when I first came up to Chicago at some outlet spot. I didn?t know anything about them at the time. Got home, dropped it on the turntable and bugged out! That was like over 10 years ago and I haven?t seen another copy since.

Can you reveal some names of records that are rare and/or treasured; and you never featured on one of your tapes?

(laughs) They?ll be up on sloppywhite.com in another 6 to 8 months.

Say you would get a phone call from a major label promising you a nice fortune for a mixtape. Only condition: you have to go Green Lantern style and selection. Would you go for it? Why or why not?

Depends on the ?fortune? I guess. But the world already has one DJ Green Lantern. Besides, I only know how to be Sloppy White. So I?d do it ?Sloppy styles?. And you can bet that some of that ?fortune?? would go into some crazy packaging.

Please leave some comment with the following:

Makeba & Skratch

They put out a massive single and a massive album. If you?re lucky enough to find the CD or cassette versions of ?Mental Fitness? you?ll get 2 bonus tracks not on the wax. Someone needs to get at them about reissuing the single and album.

III Most Wanted

Another great album. I got an e-mail from Jimmy Greco who is still working in the industry today as a producer and writer. He was part of that group and made the album when he was 16. He told me how the label didn?t support the release so nothing really happened with them as a group. Interesting back stories to some of these artists/groups. Style too. He?s still recording today as Toney Tone.

Lakim Shabazz

Incredible lyricist! He and 45 King made the perfect rap duo. It doesn?t get any better than them dudes.

Basement Flavor Compilation - First Priority

What a great collective of down-to-earth artists at the time. From the picture cover it looks like everyone just hanging out after high school. MC Lyte, Milk and Giz, Positive K, Alliance, King of Chill, etc. Dope record and it?s just been reissued. Check it!

Def IV - 'Nice & Hard'

C?mon Rap-A-Lot, put it back out! Dope stuff only a few ?so so? tracks on there. Love it!

Could you give us a few exclusive sneaks on your next mixtape?

I?m not even sure what it will be. I?m still brain storming it and thinking how in the hell I?m gonna top that mud flap packaging.

Thanks for the interview, do you have any more shout-outs?

Thanks to you guys! Everyone who has supported, taken time to listen to and offered their kind words on my mixes. Also to Spikepress.com, Susan and Sofia and Moms and Pops.

 

POSTED 04|09|2006
conducted by cpf

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