Thursday, October 13, 2011

Interview: Hey Mr. DJ Rhettmatic

The art of deejaying has evolved over the years since the days that Grandmaster Flash, Afrika Bambaataa and DJ Kool Herc founded hip hop music. Hip hop is a microcosm of society and has always been about creativity and self-expression. Different ethnic groups have impacted and have made positive contributions to hip hop culture.

Filipinos have long been involved with hip hop and have made their imprint on the culture through their contributions mainly in deejaying and b-boying. DJ Rhettmatic is a Filipino hip hop DJ and is widely recognized as being one of the top DJs and turntablists in the world.

iHEARTDilla recently had an opportunity to speak with the Beat Junkie and the Visionaries DJ crew member on his thoughts about Filipino culture as it relates to hip hop and what he thinks about deejaying today.

Ryan: What was it about turntablism that a handful of Filipino DJ’s in the 80′s and 90′s gravitated towards? What drew you to becoming a DJ?

Rhettmatic: Filipinos are more into deejaying because I found that, growing up, Filipinos were not very outspoken. There weren’t a lot of Filipino emcees back then let alone Asian emcees. Filipinos have always been enriched with music and it has been the backbone of Filipino culture. We’ve always been into music. I guess, in many ways, it’s what we all gravitate to.

picture-1 After having someone like Q-Bert, being the first non-African-American, the first non-Latino; just an Asian and let alone a Filipino to win a major championship and break the mold; I figured that if someone who looks like me can do this, why can’t I do it? That’s why there’s a lot of Filipinos that are into deejaying.

In reality, we didn’t have our own idols or heroes to look up to. Everyone had their own Michael Jordan or Magic Johnson. Most of the time, our heroes were our parents. To have someone in our generation and culture win something prestigious like that…that’s why I think a lot of Filipinos are attracted to deejaying.

Before I was a DJ, I was a popper and a graf artist. Back then, you’d do at least two of the four elements so I was poppin’ and taggin’. I’ve always liked deejaying and was always intrigued by it. I’d see videos and stuff and hear records and tapes. When my man, Curse, a Beat Junkie…he’s one of the original members…when I saw him actually scratch, I figured that’s what I wanted to do.

When I was growing up, it was like “ok that’s the in-thing” to do. Filipinos were just very involved with it period. This is on top of seeing Grandmaster DST on Saturday Night Live with Herbie Hancock and that’s when it stuck with me that’s I wanted to do. As time went by, I found deejaying was part of my calling.

Read the rest of the Rhettmatic interview at

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