DJ Spinna is something of an anomaly in music. A humbling example of what it takes to truly succeed within the framework of multiple fields: a steadfast work ethic, an obsessively extensive vinyl library and the willingness to pursue the full extents of his roots (Funk, Soul and Jazz), foundation (Hip-Hop) and future (Electronic/Dance music) with no restraints.
A cornerstone of Hip-Hop’s late 90’s indie-uprise, DJ Spinna made much of his first impression on listeners as the musical background of his group The Jigmastas (having released an impressive slew of 12″ singles on his then self-run label Beyond Real during this time) as well as providing the canvas for an array of that era’s lyrical giants. As an emcee in New York City, if you didn’t have a Spinna production under your belt, well, you just hadn’t accomplished all there was to accomplish. Everyone from Mos Def, Talib Kweli to Pharaohe Monch boasted Spinna beats to prove their worth to the scene. At the height of indie-kingpin Rawkus Records heyday, Spinna was in demand, also churning out timeless classics of the era from the likes of J-Live, Mr. Complex and The Polyrhythm Addicts (his all-too-brief collabo-group with Apani B., Shaabam Sadeeq and Complex).
As collaborative production work flooded his studio, from hip-hop legends like Sadat X & Grand Puba (Brand Nubian), Masta Ace and Guru (Gangstarr) to even The Jungle Brothers. Yet, while his stock as a the go-to producer rose so did his value as a key, if not crucial, remixer. At the time reworking hits for the major-label likes of De La Soul (“Stakes is High”) Das EFX and MC Eiht.
Turning heads throughout the industry, Spinna’s sonics soon infiltrated numerous genres. Tapped by everyone from George Michael to Mary J. Blige to Motown Records (for his brilliant Michael Jackson homage to “We’re Almost There”). It’s here his production presence would flourish greatly, as Spinna would go on to revive and revise Soulful marvels like Donald Byrd Eddie Kendricks, Betty Carter, Roy Ayers and Al Jarreau. Always relevant to the current, Spinna has taken to new mixes for the J Dilla bred Platinum Pied Pipers and Bay Area songstress Goapele as with the well respected Les Nubian. Though it goes without saying that one of the more memorable mixes goes to his monumental version of Shawn Escoffery’s “Days Like This”. In turn, catapulting Spinna into his now stately, touted presence in the dance music scene. Which made the transition to BBE Records smooth as ever, for his landmark solo production album “Here To There”. It also spawned another record label, Spinna’s own, Wonderwax. A home for his soulful dance classics, the imprint came to fruition in 2003, and has seen memorable releases from contemporaries such as Rich Medina, Lady Alma, Blaze, The Free Radikalz and Selan.
With so much studio work, it’s a marvel Spinna travels as much as he does. The constant, globe-trotting performances he’s become equally famed for have brought the DJ as far as Iceland, Australia, and South Africa as well as countless jaunts through England, Europe and the U.S. Not to forget, his hugely successful tours of Japan, where Spinna is held in the highest regard throughout the country for his craft in music. Not always the lone crowd-controller, Spinna’s collaborated on stage alongside contemporary luminaries like Gilles Peterson, Jazzanova, Joe Claussell, Bugz In The Attic, Osunlade, Jazzy Jeff, Kenny Dope, Keb Darge, DJ Scratch (EPMD), DJ Shadow & Cut Chemist. He’s a true showman – versatile as ever.
Yet nothing compares to his celebrated Stevie Wonder inspired WONDER-Full– DJ-performances (aside friend and contributor Bobbito Garcia). Garnering overwhelming fanfare each occasion done – whether NYC, LA, San Francisco, Japan or beyond – if a WONDER-Full– event is booked at a club you can put money on a line around the block and thousands of Stevie Wonder admirers rocking the house. And while he’s gained so much attention and accolade for his tributes to Stevie, Spinna is not incapable of doing the same for any other pivotal forefather. Visit New York City any given month and find a number of Spinna themed throw-downs in the city’s esteemed venues – each as memorable as the last.
Its true that there are other likeminded DJ/Producers in the world comparable to DJ Spinna, but for the most part, they choose a genre and master it. Ask them to flip another variety with the same intense knowledge and sleek-savvy and you’ll be hard pressed to find someone that’ll do it to Spinna’s extent.
Known popularly as Mr Thing, this supreme disc jockey first started djing in 1987. He said recently- “the first hip-hop record I bought was Streetsounds Crucial Electro, first import 12″ was BDP “Poetry”, first actual record was … (cringing) Adam & The Ants “Kings Of The Wild Frontier”. From these humble beginnings Mr Thing went on to become one the worlds finest dj’s as testified by the following accomplishments. DMC TEAM WORLD CHAMP (SCRATCH PERVERTS) 1999 DMC UK CHAMP 2000 DMC WORLD 3RD PLACE 2000. Marc (Mr Thing) Bowles didn’t stand still with spinning records. Along side amassing a fantastic record collection from digging trips across every continent, he practiced his production skills and has gone on to remix and produce records for a credible assortment of UK acts. BBE and Mr Thing have known each other for over 10 years and it was just natural that a collaboration had to happen. The result is Strange Breaks and Mr Thing – a five part ultimate breaks and beats series. A homage to the popular Strange Games Series on the label. Mr Thing said “I wanted to do an extension of my “Anorak” series of mixtapes, which were already a homage if you like to Kon & Amir, Muro & the Conmen etc, but put some stuff out there that covered all bases of music & breaks from the ultra rare to some reasonably common stuff people might have passed up before!”