Sunday, April 3, 2011

Talkin' with Espada & Last Word

Before I officially passed things over to my guest DJs for Friday's EXTRA LARGE, I figured I should sit down with these two guys and make sure they knew the score. We all met at the Midtown Global Market to grab a bite to eat and talk about music and thangs.

Oh yeah, this interview contains a ton of hyperlinks.

Perch (they usually do Red Snapper, but they were out - I was not mad at the perch whatsoever) with seasoned rice and candied yams from West Indies Soul Food.

MIKE 2600: Alright, I'm here at the wonderful Midtown Global Market with DJ Espada and DJ Last Word. Last Word, this is your first time here at the Midtown Global Market?

LAST WORD: Is this the part where you rub it in?

M: Yeah… so what do you think?

L: My first impression is like "Why have I never been here before?" which is kind of a…

M: Kind of a fuck up on your end.

L: Yeah I think it's kind of a big L on my part.

M: Big L rest in peace. So what did you get to eat?

L: I got the jerk chicken, plantains, and seasoned rice. I'm a pretty big fan of jerk chicken, so I can't really lose.

Last Word about to get into some jerk chicken... please note the checkered belt over his shoulder which was purchased for him by Espada as a gift just moments before this photo was taken

M: They do it pretty proper at the West Indies Soul Food. Espada what did you get?

ESPADA: I ventured off and had two chicken tamales at La Loma.

Espada lookin' mad Unabomberish with his tamale.

M: Aaaah, getting in touch with your Mexican heritage. Is this like a comfort meal before you go and whyle out tonight?

E: Yeah.

M: I'm excited to have both you guys covering for me while I'm out of town.

E: So wait, can I ask you a question?

M: Oh are you interviewing me now?

E: No no it's not for the interview.

M: The tape's rolling.

E: Oh… so why are you leaving?

M: I'm going to Amsterdam to visit Mali. She's traveling and I'm gonna go meet her there.

E: Really? Amazing, man… OK go ahead, I'm sorry.

M: It's OK. I'll work in like a hyperlink to a picture of the Red Light District or a wooden shoe or something.

Espada offers us both a bite of his tamale and it's very good.

M: So what have you guys been working on, musically?

L: Lately everything I've been working on is kinda Moombahton stuff, all in that shape or form. I wouldn't say it's specific to that genre. I'm also a big fan of speeding stuff up instead of slowing it down all the time.

M: The tempo change is a nice way to make a track applicable in different contexts or circumstances, like as soon as you make something way slower or way faster, you can play that track in a totally different situation that you might not have before.

L: I've got a couple that are more like party breaks where I just speed up the track, like that Jeremih "Down" song that's been going over real heavy. It's actually just the instrumental sped up with a couple of samples added to it and I added a bunch of drums to it. I did one of (Waka Flocka's) "Grove St. Party" too, turned out pretty good.

M: Espada, what about you?

E: Well we got the new website,, working on remixes, and really trying to understand Ableton Live to its fullest. Why not produce now after playing so many nights of dance music?

M: I'm sure most people nowadays know you from Wants VS Needs, but for everyone who might not be familiar, can you talk about how the night started and what you guys have been doing?

E: It was a bunch of us who wanted to do a party, and it was an opportunity for a lot of us to play our own shit out. We came together with Adam Garcia. Make sure you do a hyperlink to

M: There's gonna be a lot of hyperlinks in this interview.

E: It worked out really well cause one of our favorite nights was Get Cryphy and we were like, "Why not make another night to party as well?" Give the other guys the night off on another week. So this party coming up with me and Last Word… it's been a long time coming, actually.

L: I don't think we've actually played together, just the two of us.

E: Dude! We've done shows together out of town, rap shows, where you even dropped instrumentals while I rapped.

L: Yep! That's right!

M: I was gonna ask about that next, cause most people now know you as a DJ, but you've had quite a lucrative past as a rapper in the Twin Cities. How has that shaped what you're doing now with DJing?

E: Well if it was anything, it would be just collecting the dopest records while trying to figure out what to rap to, but when it comes to playing dance music and DJing, all of it has to have some sort of nostalgic point.

M: So are you saying nostalgia plays a big role in what you do as a DJ?

E: Yes, absolutely.

M: Last Word, what about you? I first knew about you as the DJ who backed up Dialogue Elevaters. How did you make the transition into what you're doing now, where your DJing is the main focus?

L: Oh man, there was about a 2 to 3 year period where all I did was produce and DJ for rappers, I pretty much stopped playing out as just a DJ. Then around 2006, 2007, I decided it was time to take it into my own hands and do what I wanted. I had spent so much time helping people out, and why not get into the limelight after a while? So I started playing the Dinkytowner a ton, doing those Ladies Nights. It was originally me and Espada switching off weeks.

E: Yeah I remember that. We never got to play together. That was actually a really good paying gig too at the time.

L: There was a Summer there where they switched my pay and I was cleaning house.

M: Man, they were never that kind to me with the money.

E: They weren't even paying their taxes, so why would they pay the local DJs? I'm sorry Dinkytowner, rest in peace…

M: I'll blur that out in the interview or whatever. I feel like a lot of us (DJs) know each other through the Dinkytowner or how you and I met through the Loring Pasta Bar.

E: I met you really randomly before that.

M: At Scribble Jam?

E: At Scribble Jam, but before that on the Rhymesayers message board.

M: Oh wow, the Rhymesayers message board was one of my windows into Minneapolis before I moved up here.

E: I remember that!

M: You remember that it was one of my windows into Minneapolis?

E: No, I remember you and your brother used to post rap demos and we would listen to them and be like "Who are these kids from Tennessee or St. Louis or something?"

M: My brother and I were fuckin' running that message board. Siddiq never knew it though.

E: The Davis brothers man… Deerflesh! Oh man… OK anyways…

A flyer for the November 2001 Atmosphere / Eyedea & Abilities / Sage Francis show in St. Louis at which my brother Deerflesh and I opened up.

M: I had a feeling we'd be doing some reminiscing in this interview.

E: Last Word, how many years ago did we first start playing together?

L: 2001? 2002?

E: I remember you and Dialogue Elevaters played at Loring Pasta Bar and then you ended up closing the night out for me and Anton.

L: I don't remember that.

E: I have one of the flyers. That was the first time I heard you rock and you killed it. That was the first time and I was like "Ohhhh shiiiiiit!"

L: Man, the Pasta Bars days. This really is a big reminiscing interview.

M: I know! Who's gonna cry first? So what kind of tunes can people expect to hear the two of you spin on Friday at EXTRA LARGE?

L: A lot of Garth Brooks, Kenny Chesney…

E: Jam band shit for sure. I actually have a whole 7" set of all jam bands.

L: 13 minute songs…

E: Local jam bands, oh some from St. Cloud, there's like 7 different bands and I spin their records for like 45 minutes.

M: OK let me rephrase the question. So what kind of tunes can people expect to hear the two of you spin on Friday at EXTRA LARGE?

L: I think you're gonna hear a lot of Moombahton and dancehall from me, classic rap jams, I can't get away from 'em.

E: It should become a sing-along by about 1:00.

M: In the interview I'm gonna change that to say 12:00.

E: Yeah, do that… Ummm… Plaid Rap, you know, skinny jea…

M: Plaid Rap?

E: Plaid Rap, it's a whole new thing. You never heard of Plaid Rap?

M: No, talk to me about Plaid Rap. Wait, can I guess what it is? Is it like Lupé Fiasco?

L: What makes you think of him as being Plaid Rap?

M: I don't know, it just made sense. So talk to me about Plaid Rap, cause I'm a fan of new genres, I'm glad that music is constantly evolving…

L: We just came up with a new genre today. Wait, is it Plaid Rap or Clad Rap?

M: I heard Plaid.

E: Plaid or Clad?

M: I'm up for either one. So would it be like Sneaker Collector Rap?

E: No, it would be more like a book collector listener… like a grown man's rap.

M: Like armchair rap?

E: Like a leather armchair. You step in the room and it's nothing but mahogany.

M: Would it be like Anti-Pop Consortium? Like really thinky rap?

L: That would be backpack rap.

E: Well backpack rap was writers and rhymers. So what was in everyone's backpack? I remember seeing Buckshot in the "Who Got The Props" video with a backpack and like a green jumpsuit on and I was "That's so dope!"

M: Did you ever used to sport a backpack?

E: Yeah! Of course I did!

M: What was in your backpack?

E: A walkman for sure, plenty of DJ Premier tapes, a burrito, and some markers.

M: I had of course the graffiti sketchbook, a bunch of markers and some stickers, maybe like some mixtapes to try to sell, and probably some actual legit school stuff like a book… or an apple.

E: I traveled with an apple, banana, and orange all the time. Cause taking the bus from Saint Paul to go play at the Red Sea… gotta have a snack.

L: I used to run sound at the Red Sea.

E: Yes! I remember that!

L: I used to run sound for Dan Speak and Disco T at the Red Sea. That place used to get crazy. They would always show up at like 11:15. As a DJ you couldn't do that at any venue nowadays. They had that place on lock and by the time midnight came around it was just packed. I think a lot of what those dudes did, you know a lot of us have seen them play and got ideas, learned from them. When I was coming up, I played a lot of rap music. I didn't play a lot of party stuff. But Dan and T played everything, so it was so much fun to watch them play. They played songs from when we were kids, but played them in a setting where it was right after a current hit and people would just go crazy… and I was playing a lot of Solitaire on the computer those nights.

M: Well. anything else the people should know? Any last shoutouts or plugs or hyperlinks?



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