with DJ Nu-mark
"If it bumps
we keep it"
a DJ/Producer releases an album, he's doing more than getting
out material. He's answering a question.
Now to start, you have your Shadow and your Krush
simply put, DJ's known primarily for their work in the realm
of DJ album, a type of animal that gained mainstream popularity
in the mid-90's. It followed no set of rules for the artist
except to get his then vision onto several (often unrelated)
tracks. They'd take foreboding soundscapes, 70's drum loops,
and twisted random materials and see what they could come
up with that would be pleasing, yet different to the listener's
sometimes joined by a list of hip-hoppers and
R&B crooners, sometimes not.
Then it changes. It becomes a slightly different game for
people like DJ Nu-mark, originally of Jurassic 5 fame. Like
Babu (Dilated Peoples) and RJD2 (Various Artists), folks
tend to prick up their ears at the idea of a group's DJ
going solo. The initial leap of faith concerned with wondering
"what the hell does a DJ do with an entire album?"
has been breached years and years ago
but the question
of "what the hell will that DJ sound like away from
the band?" is still a relatively new one providing
many different possibilities.
Nu-mark attempts to find a suitable answer by returning
to his roots on his first solo run. This return entails
the help of one Pomo, a veteran in the SoCal scene and a
man that Nu-mark happily praises as "
for bringing me into the middle school era of Hip Hop (he
gives examples like Just Ice, Stet, True Mathematics, Mantronix,
EPMD, etc...) I was still stuck on listening to U.T.F.O.
when I met Pomo." Together, they hone their collective
turntable experience into an album which Nu-mark says isn't
overly complex, and is inspired by the tradition of hip-hop
beat tapes. "Simple, not a load of change ups, just
a instrumental project that resembles a beat tape
Pomo and I have been setting up beat sessions with each
other for at least 10 years now." He indicates that
it wasn't just time to make the DJ release, but that it
was just the natural progression of beat collecting over
many years: "This is a project long over due. We'd
go beat for beat at his crib or mine just as an inspiration
to keep creating."
This inspiration results in the loose, yet well-constructed
aura that pervades Blend Crafters, a result that can only
happen when two completely professional artists decide to
let their craft just happen naturally. Nu-mark notes that
it is a completely different process to creation working
with just one like-minded artist on the project "I
was really able to take my time with this project. We were
able to record at our own pace since all the tracking and
mixing was finished at Pomo's studio. It was also cool to
vote on beats between two people." Compared to his
work with J5, Nu-mark says of Blend Crafters: "This
project is a touch more free spirited with no true goal
at the end of the day. The motto was 'if it bumps then we
keep it.' "
When you listen to Blend Crafters, you'll be pleased with
what they've decided to keep. It's not an attempt to completely
rewrite the rules of DJing and mixing, but it shows enough
variety and skill so that it doesn't feel underdone in any
way. Lead-off track Melody is soulful and memorable, and
leads to thoughts of lost weekends just letting the man
on the tables do his thing with some dirty drum loops and
blues samples. Bad Luck Blues is dark stuff, with a layer
of twangy guitars in the background providing the foundation
for some heartfelt singing in the fore
call it the
perfect music to break-up to in the vein of depressing luminaries
Regarding much of Blend Crafters, Nu-mark states "If
you like instrumental Hip Hop beats then this might be up
your alley." This must be the inspiration behind Flute
Fidelity and Unwind, two tracks that seem ready to inspire
many a drunken, embarrassing freestyle session with their
unassuming backbeat. Stripped completely of the overproduction
that plagues much of hip-hop today (a foul trend sometimes
mistaken for "progression"), they're quietly infectious
tunes and represent the spirit of this album. Or to quote
the man: "Focusing on doing one thing 100%. Too many
ideas confuse people."
The future is full for Nu-mark. Along with work on a new
Jurassic 5 album, he'll be touring with the group, playing
solo shows, and getting to work on
Crafters Vol. 2. He remarks that the original Blend Crafters
was held up for quite some time in the face of other important
releases, but here's to hoping that Volume 2, which may
have a special guest instrumentalist, has higher priority.
Whatever may come, he'll be sure to be in the studio, drawing
ideas from "
dirty drums from the '68 to '74
that are not meant to be instruments
kids toys, trash
can lids, pots pans and the natural element of life
borrow from life." It's a typical statement from a
guy who strives to find the beauty in simplicity, and applies
it to his music. The future of DJing may very well go in
vastly different directions than Nu-mark's work, but he's
more or less unconcerned as long as he remains part of it.
To that end, he'll always be armed and ready with his favorite
"An MPC 2000 and my records," he says matter-of-factly.