cut chemist interview at bboysounds

An Interview with Cut Chemist


Cut Chemist is one of the foremost turntablists and producers in Hip-Hop, whether as DJ of supergroup Jurassic 5, as a solo artist and producer, or most recently, as a headliner alongside DJ Shadow for the Renegades of Rhythm tour.

VINYL-ONLY TOUR HONORING AFRIKA BAMBAATAA'S INFLUENCE ON HIP HOP'S BEGINNINGSRenegades of Rhythm saw the two top shotta DJs Cut Chemist (@cut_chemist) and DJ Shadow (@djshadow) drawing cratefuls from Afrika Bambaataa’s own vinyl collection, and sharing them with the world via six turntables, vintage beat machines, and non-stop cuts and juggles.

We caught the show when it came to House of Blues in Orlando, Florida last month, thanks to Magnum PR (@magnumpr) and it was a straight-up DJ’s dream and a Hip-Hopper’s zen paradise.

The extremely cool and down-to-earth brother Cut Chemist spoke to Bboysounds this afternoon, giving us some insight into this incredible adventure he’s taken, touring the world with select pickings from the crates of the mighty Afrika Bambaataa.

What was your favorite record from Bambaataa’s collection?

That’s a pretty good question and a hard one to answer.

Bambaataa had these discs in his collection that he pressed back in the 70s that were basically like a beat tape, done with pause mixing on a cassette deck, and then pressed to an acetate…

That was the most mind-blowing to me.

(In fact, Bambaataa was creating what was probably the very first sample-based looping and recording in human history, looping his favorite breaks in a “very crude” fashion for use at the parties he played, and Cut Chemist and DJ Shadow stumbled upon these discs while selecting music for the Renegades of Rhythm tour!)

[hr]”This was the very beginning of sample-based production.
A marvelous discovery in Hip-Hop in general…”[hr]

(We also discussed Cut Chemist’s track “Bunky’s Pick”, a bonus track and one of my favorites on “The Funky 16 Corners”, and how the joint was a latter-day rendition of Bambaataa’s technique on the white-label acetates. Check it out!)

What is your own favorite Bboy break?

“The Mexican” by Babe Ruth. That’s just one of the dopest records ever made.

It’s not the most prominent drum break, but there’s something about that song that makes me want to bboy, want to uprock.

When I play that record, I just want to push the turntables out of the way and break.

(Cut Chemist had a hard time resisting this urge in Orlando, when the final segment of the show, dedicated to the Bboys and Bgirls, took off and an epic cipher opened up on House of Blues’ massive dance floor. This was documented by our Orlando homie MarsRadio (@marsradiodj) on his YouTube. See below.)

Do you see any Hip-Hop acts today with the dynamic of Jurassic 5?

Jurassic 5 is a rap group, but I don’t see a lot of rap groups these days. It’s just a bunch of solo people… This is the day and age of the solo artists and people just want to get theirs, you know? To go for self. It’s not common that you see rap groups.

You’ll see old ones like De La Soul, the classic groups still doing it, but new groups forming, I’m not really seeing that.

I think that’s why you’re seeing a resurgence of Jurassic 5, Souls of Mischief…

[hr] “That was what got me into Hip-Hop.
I loved Rakim and Nas, but when you went to see a group perform, like Run DMC, or De La Soul, Public Enemy, it was just a whole different experience, the routines and dynamics of the group.” [hr]

What does Afrika Bambaataa mean to you today?

His social message runs just as deep within me as his ethics for the sound of records that he had a taste for, that he paved the way for Hip-Hop, and kind of just his left-field taste for records.

Left to right: Cut Chemist, Afrika Bambaataa, and DJ Shadow

You know, he influenced the sound that paved the way for the ZuluBeatz show, and “Lessons” by Double Dee and Steinski, and Prince Paul, which inspired me…

There’s a family tree of tracks from Bambaataa to me.

[hr] “Thinking globally and acting globally was Bambaataa’s message that really struck me, and that he was including everybody, not just one race or color, and that’s still relevant to me.” [hr]

I don’t know if it’s as en vogue as it was in the 80s, but for me it’s what still drives me, and to incorporate multiple sources, multiple people.

That Bambaataa message will always stick with me.

What message do you have for the Bboys and Bgirls around the world?

Keep pulling out moves to the most craziest and obscure music that you can.

I love it when I see people bboying or bgirling to a punk record, or if there’s any crazy break.

[hr] Big up to the brother Cut Chemist for taking the time with us, and you should most definitely listen to this mix released right on time for the Renegades of Rhythm tour from Cut Chemist’s Soundcloud:

Make sure to follow Cut Chemist on Soundcloud, Like him on Facebook, and check out his latest joints, jams, and updates at his website CutChemist.com.