With more than 20 years of experience, DJ Rude 1 understands more than anything the importance of staying true to oneself. He's been deeply rooted in Chicago's hip-hop scene as one-half of the Single Minded Pros, and despite being a major figure in the scene he still maintains a grounded focus: spreading the word on quality hip-hop music. Rude's love for the culture started as early as grade school and has blossomed in a number of different ways, including the popular Goodness series, which has brought out a veritable who's who of hip-hop DJs such as Babu, Maseo, People Under the Stairs, DJ Revolution, Alchemist, Edan, DJ Shortkut and Diamond D, to name a few. Rude's momentum doesn't seem to be slowing down despite him being the only member of SMP in Chicago, so Centerstage sat down with him to see how he's been able to maintain his focus for so long and where he plans to go next.
Your connection with Chicago hip-hop runs deep. What was it that initially got you interested in the culture?
I was heavy into break-dancing when I was in grade school, but my interest in that began to wane and I wanted to learn more about the music we were dancing to. I started taping WBMX mixes around '84-'85 and discovered Farley Jackmaster Funk and the Hot Mix 5. Farley always had the most interesting sets and he was the only one who would cut it up, so I followed him more than the others. I used to take my little tapes to local record stores and have them help me find the songs I liked most, and that's when my record collecting began. A few years later my mom and I moved to the East Coast and I discovered Marley Marl, Red Alert and Chuck Chillout's radio shows. Next thing you know I'm digging for Ultramagnetic MCs, JVC Force, BDP, etc. I like to say I'm lucky enough to have grown up on Farley and Marley.
When did you first start spinning? Do you remember your first gig?
I got a pair of belt drive turntables in 1988 and it was on from there. I worked my ass off in high school to save up for a pair of 1200s. I'm not sure I remember my first gig. Back then it was mostly house parties. My first gig in Chicago was in 1992 at Cairo courtesy of Jesse De La Pena.
As a DJ you have the luxury of being at the crossroads of a lot of different styles of hip-hop. What's your take on the culture now, specifically Chicago’s scene?
Believe it or not I don't really follow the scene that much. Maybe that says more than I realize. I don't know. I still check for new artists and new records when I hear good things, but I'm not out there kicking it like I used to.
Tell me a little bit about SMP.
Single Minded Pros was a collective that consisted of me and six homies I grew up with back East. Five of those dudes got locked up, and Doc West and I were the only ones left. We're both DJs and producers so we started putting out records featuring our favorite MCs and things took off from there. We did records with Kool G. Rap, Tony Touch, Kool Keith, and a ton of others. Around 2006 I moved to NY and Doc bounced to Atlanta. I did a lot to build such a quality brand, I decided to keep it going by attaching it to everything I do these days. I fell back on the beats the last few years, so it's mainly just parties and DJ sets these days.
The Goodness series has played host to some of the most revered hip-hop DJs around. How did the night come about?
When I moved back to Chicago from New York, there weren't any parties left where I could do my thing and play the records I wanted to play. Shon Dervis and I were still doing late-night sets on Fridays and Saturdays at The Note (RIP!). But we knew management eventually would go in another direction, so it was time to look ahead. I did the first Goodness party at Lava with J-Zone and it's been a great run from there. August will be our three-year anniversary.
Who have been the most memorable guests so far?
Off the top I'd have to say the first time Alchemist played with us. Dilated Peoples were in town doing a show at Double Door that night so they came through along with Aceyalone, 88 Keys, and even Juice came by that night. It was almost a full-blown rap show in little-ass Lava when the legal capacity was only 99. That was a great time. Other highlights for me would have to be Diamond D and Freddie Foxxx. That's just legendary status right there. Plus, where else would you ever see Bumpy Knuckles on the turntables? And that wasn't just for novelty sake. Foxxx gets busy on the tables. I should also mention DJ Revolution and Shortkut are easily the best DJs to have played the night. I'll put those two up against anybody on the planet. I mean that.
I checked out the People Under the Stars set, they're easily one of my most favorite hip-hop groups around. Are they the uninhibited party types like their songs suggest?
This is weird to say, but I'm not at all familiar with their catalog. I know they’re both serious record heads and they use an MPC 3000 like me so I always respected them for that. That night came to be after we met when we were booked on the same bill last year and I just figured they could probably rock a party and they didn't disappoint. The Goodness is a DJ's DJ party if you know what I'm saying, but I love when it turns into an all-out dance party, which happened that night. Those dudes are good people.
Aside from the darkroom what are some of your other favorite venues to spin at?
Shon Dervis and I are back in effect every Thursday for a weekly party we call "Elementary" at Empire Liquors. That's my favorite party to play in the city. I just ended a 2 1/2-year residency at a small spot in NYC called Shebeen, which was always fun for me, and I also really dig Goodlife in Boston.
Almost every DJ I've interviewed considers this an unanswerable question, but I'm going to ask it anyway. Name your top five favorite records.
Hmm, I'll say:
"Ain’t It Good To You" Ultramagnetic MC’s
"So Wat Cha Sayin" EPMD
"K.I.S.S." Diamond D
"Boogie Down" Man Parrish
"I'm Hungry" Stopp
My record for 2010 is Roc Marciano's "Marcberg" LP.