Listen up. Photo by John Gilhooley
Listen up. Photo by John Gilhooley

Aural Reports

Mr. Kees might sound like a dabbler, but the man's a doer. As a hip-hop, reggae and rock drummer and as an MC and a club DJ with his sound crew Big Time Tune Sound, the multitalented Mr. Kees is a musician's musician.

Orange County isn't really thought of as hip-hop friendly. It's bigger than people think. There are quite a lot of sound crews. There are a lot of DJs. There are a whole lot of MCs, and there's a whole lot of musicians. It's pretty much underground. The real Orange County heads prefer to be underground. Most of the commercial stuff is flashy and it's cool and all, but it really doesn't appeal.

Was it tough coming to OC from Illinois as a hip-hop kid?It was difficult. I went from a city where the population was pretty much minorities and came to an area with less color. It was hard too because at the time my mom was married to a minister. They would take any tapes with explicit lyrics. I would always find where they would hide them and dub them in case they would take them again.

Is your mom okay with you getting into music? I'm a musician, so I had to. Being in a band since I was a kid, I was the only one that was underage, so I would have to sit outside the club until it was time for me to perform. Then when I was done I'd have to leave again.

So you started as a drummer?In junior high I played in the jazz band. From there I went to Troy High and played in the marching band, the jazz band and the classical band. Then I got expelled from the Fullerton school district and went to Westminster High School my senior year. I was in the marching band and jazz band there but got kicked out before I graduated.

Why were you expelled?It added up from getting suspended, from calling teachers "bitches," from fighting. The last straw was standing up for a good friend's girlfriend. I threatened the guy and his dad.

So you got into reggae from hip-hop?Moms always told me if you're going to play music, have some kind of message and some kind of style so people can listen to it and it will teach them something. So I picked that up from listening to reggae and adjusting to the rhythm, adjusting to the style. It's a whole culture with tunes and a style, and I was just fascinated with that style. My foundation is always going to be hip-hop, but right now I'm known as a reggae DJ. I go to clubs and these guys always play old tunes, so the focus of my sound crew with Concra de Butcha is to play something new for people. Sound crews consist of DJs and MCs and they run the sound at events.

Where do you shop for records? Noise Noise Noise is good for the old stuff. I still go to Aron's in Santa Monica, but they're going out of business due to Amoeba. Amoeba's stuff is overpriced. It's an addiction now. If I see records I'm digging in them. I go to the Golden West swap meet and dig through for old Richard Pryor records. I've got it bad. I spend a lot of money on records.

How do you feel about commercial hip-hop?I don't play music for me. I play it for other people. It only goes so far talking about what you drive, who you're with. When I see my little cousins, I don't really want them to be singing that. When the commercial stuff comes on, I think it's kind of funny. People request songs they listen to all the time at home. Music's big. I'm going to try to give you something you've never heard before. But most people want to hear what they want to hear.



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