In the Know
Photo by Jonathan HoTry to describe Fullerton's DJ JFX, and you'll soon realize it's a whole lot easier if you just list his rsum: hip-hop DJ and producer, reggae selector, actor, screenwriter, soundtrack composer, film producer—JFX embraces the one-man-as-industry ethos and runs with it. Just don't make him choose between hip-hop and reggae.
How did you become a DJ?
It started off with hip-hop. I started off DJing in '84 [as a teenager in Chicago]. Back in the day we'd go to a record store and nothing new was out, which doesn't happen anymore. Coming to California in '87 when Public Enemy and Eric B. & Rakim were coming out [and] on the West Coast NWA [had] exploded onto the scene—the new styles and the new music got me that much more into it.
How did you get into reggae from there?
Living in San Diego, which is a huge reggae town, got me into reggae. But to be serious in music you have to live close to LA. Orange County, for me, is the perfect area: right in the middle in between San Diego and LA.
How was your transition from hip-hop to reggae?
A lot of reggae DJs haven't been in it as long as I have. Already mastering the art of the turntable—mixing, scratching, blending, being able to count bars and that sort of thing—being able to blend the reggae is the perfect transition. DJing reggae music is different from hip-hop. It's all about being clean so that the crowd can't tell when you've started the next song. I think of it as if I'm DJing in Jamaica. In Jamaica it's real serious—the crowd doesn't mess around. It's fluidity and what you play. They don't like scratching and all that stuff.
Is it tough to be involved in hip-hop and reggae in Orange County?
Orange County's so spread out you have to be "in the know" almost. But there's a core audience for reggae and hip-hop. From a promoting standpoint, it's really a word-of-mouth area. You have to go to record stores, barbershops, all kinds of different places. You can give one college student a flier, and maybe 20 or 30 people will see it by the end of the day.
Which OC record stores are best for building a library?
I work at Beats, Vinyl & Life, but also there's Noise Noise Noise, mom-n-pops, thrift shops and that kind of thing. Without a doubt one of the biggest things is the Buena Park record show at the end of each month. You can build through there and every month find something different.
Vinyl versus digital?
The CDJ revolution . . . I'll DJ a club and I'll be the only DJ spinning vinyl, but the response that I get when people see you physically manipulate vinyl . . . for me, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. Sometimes there's such a thing as being too digital. Sometimes on certain CDs the treble is ear piercing and you play the vinyl and it's perfect. You can feel the bass more. As long as you have a good pair of needles and a decent pair of turntables, you're good to go. I go to Japan and I frequent Hawaii two or three times a year and I'm lugging vinyl still. Like I said, if it ain't broke . . .
Commercial hip-hop versus underground hip-hop?
Just like KRS-One said: if you put two words together and they rhyme, that's rapping. But just because you're rapping, that don't make you hip-hop. Hip-hop shows no boundary. The people that listen and buy the music know the difference. To me, reggae is more underground than hip-hop could ever be.
Hip-hop or reggae?
It would be impossible. To me it's all one because hip-hop comes directly from reggae.
DJ JFX WITH TATE THE GREAT AT COHIBA, 110 E. BROADWAY, LONG BEACH, (562) 491-5220. THURS., OCT. 6. CALL FOR TIME AND COVER. SEE MYSPACE.COM/JFX FOR MORE INFORMATION; VISIT DJ JFX AT BEATS, VINYL & LIFE, 517 S. BROOKHURST ST., ANAHEIM, (714) 774-7780.
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