A few years a go I got invited to a house party down by the beach and I was told to “just bring a crate of records” since I would be one of four or five DJs who would be playing. Soon after arriving I discovered that there were no longer three other DJ’splaying, just me and this other kid with dreadlocks.
I wanted to drink so I let him go first.
All he played was progressive house…it was all he had with him, and from what could see, it was all he ever played. He was really into it too, so I felt kind of bad for him because no one else at the party was. He cleared the room fairly quickly, and soon realized that (A) he was alone (B) no one wanted to hear his music and (C) he had nothing else to play. At that point, his gig was pretty much over.
He was not “all city.”
There’s an old graffiti documentary where a kid explains “all city” in graffiti terms as the ability to not just paint walls, but also breakdance and DJ. You couldn’t call yourself “all city” unless you had mastered all styles of the hip hop culture. I have not mastered all styles, but at least I’m capable of mixing several genre’s of music.
The best all city DJ I’ve ever heard is DJ Neil Armstrong. This guy does it all from turntablism, beat matching and music selection…especially music selection since his taste covers everything from hip hop to pop, slow jams to hard rock.
But what he’s really known for are his mixtapes.
Neil grew up in New York City, where he honed his turntable skills in the early nineties and formed his world famous crew The Almighty 5th PLatoon. He’s toured alongside hip hop greats like De La Soul and Wyclef Jean, but was also part of the Grammy nominated jazz group Russell Gunn and Ethnomusicology (who are great by the way.)
Some people make a mixtape and put very little into it, just playing a song then yelling over the transition (DJ Clue…cough, cough.) Or they just make a jumbled audio mess that you listen to once then turn into a coaster on your coffee table…I have a few of those. But Neil’s work has been coming out for over ten years now and it still holds up. Especially when you look at his first big mixtape, “Original.”
Neil, who often likes to work within the framework of themes, took a very simple concept of mixing great hip hop songs and the original songs they sampled and then proceeded to blow everyone’s mind with his mad knowledge and skills. I picked it up at Fatbeats when it came out and it became a staple for bringing to parties for well over a year…who am I kidding, I still pull that shit out. And that’s what draws you in about Neil’s work. You can keep going back to it and it still seems fresh. Don’t just take my word for it though!
After dropping “Original,” he did a sequel called “Original 2″ before releasing a double disc mix of both tapes performed live. He then moved onto an epic love song series (Sweeet, Bittersweet, and Smoove) and his freaking awesome All Out King series that mixes all styles (Warmfuzzy, ExtraOrdinary, Filthy and Oscillate Wildly.) Once you get a taste, you’ll pretty much be hooked and have to track all of them down. You can buy them HERE. Support the man and all the good work he’s doing.
Give it up to the All Out King…and feel free to grab his newest free mix HERE!