A Moment with DJ Plain View
The third in the acclaimed mixtape series, Internationally Known vol. 3 picks up where it left off in 2012, continuing to explore the global horizons of hip hop music. The 38-track mixtape offers some of the world’s top shelf hip hop artists including X Plastaz (Tanzania), Outspoken (Zimbabwe), Bocafloja (Mexico), Akala (UK), Wageble (Senegal) and Omar Offendum (Syria/USA). In all, more than 40 artists from over 30 countries are represented in Internationally Known vol. 3.
Originally conceived by pioneering emcee Dumi RIGHT of Zimbabwe Legit, Nomadic Wax’s Dj Magee, and Italy’s Dj Nio, the mixtape series has become home to many of the world’s most interesting young artists. On
Vol. 3, Washington, DC’s DJ Plain View is behind the turntables, giving us the freshest mix of global sounds while Dumi Right once again hosts.
Download the mixtape for free here: http://nomadicwax.bandcamp.com/track/internationally-known-vol-3
We sat down with DJ Plain View to discuss his connection to this music and the movement as a whole, and what it was like for him to mix this edition of the Internationally Known Series.
Nomadic Wax: Can you introduce us to you a little bit? Where are you from? What is your musical background?
DJ Plain View: I grew up in a small town north of Boston, Massachusetts. Thankfully, by the late 1980′s, it was in broadcast range of radio stations playing A Tribe Called Quest, Black Sheep, KRS One, Public Enemy, etc. so I was hooked on hip hop at an early age. As a keyboard player, I got into jazz, funk, and blues growing up and going through school. I listened pretty obsessively to Herbie Hancock, Abdullah Ibrahim, and Dr. John, and once I moved in New York City in the late 1990s for college, I decided to try to finally channel all these influences and start working on my own sound.
Nomadic Wax: What drew you first to hip hop music and culture, and made you want to become a DJ and Producer?
DJ Plain View: I think above all, the musical component of hip hop initially drew me in — especially the production work of Marley Marl, the Bomb Squad, DJ Premier, Q Tip, Large Professor, and the list goes on. But beyond that, I was drawn to the sense of inclusiveness that hip hop embodied, and, as I got a bit older, the lyricism pulled me even further in. I started DJ’ing, doing my own production, and working on film scores once I landed in New York City, and all these avenues were great in terms of linking up with similarly-minded creative folks in the city.
Nomadic Wax: In 2010, you released your own international hip hop concept album entitled Globalize: Hip-Hop from Around the World. What got you interested in International Hip Hop, and what inspired the creation of the Globalize album?
DJ Plain View: I think my curiosity about hip hop scenes overseas was driven by my interest in other genres of music, especially those from South America and Africa as a whole. I had really gotten into the sounds of the Tropicalia movement from 1960s Brazil, for example, and 1970s funk from Ethiopia. Eventually I got to thinking that given these countries’ rich musical histories, they probably had some pretty interesting music scenes going on right now as well.
And then it wasn’t too much of a stretch to start imagining emcees in these countries putting their own spin on hip hop music, so I started searching it out without any particular direction. Thankfully, I didn’t have to look far — I picked up a copy of Nomadic Wax’s 2001 “African Underground Vol. 1: Hip Hop Senegal” and that kind of sealed the deal for me. I then wanted to find out as much as I could about local hip hop scenes not just in West Africa, but, well… everywhere.
A couple years later, I started working on Globalize: Hip-Hop from the Around the World, and that was a pretty transformative experience, musically speaking. From start to finish it took five years to put together, but the album gave me a platform to collaborate with rappers in Asia, the Middle East, Europe, Africa, and the Americas, and I was exposed to flows unlike any I had ever heard before.
Nomadic Wax: What do you think about the Internationally Known mixtape series as a whole?
DJ Plain View: I’m a big fan. Fela Kuti famously said that “Music is the weapon,” and I couldn’t agree more with this. His music was hugely influential in raising public awareness and checking government corruption in Nigeria. In a similar way, music played a foundational role in the anti-apartheid resistance in 1970s and 1980s South Africa. To me, the Internationally Known series provides a platform for using hip hop to speak to truth to power, whether that power is corporate, government, or (as increasingly seems the case these days) both. The social awareness and political restlessness in the lyrical content of Internationally Known reminds me why I love hip hop, and it provides pretty clear evidence that the art form is thriving everywhere.
Nomadic Wax: What was your process and approach to mixing v3 of the mixtape series?
DJ Plain View: Well, as a DJ, I’m always thinking about transitions. So I basically laid out the mix based on what songs were going to flow most naturally into one another. Throughout the tape, I’ve also dropped in a few instrumental interludes to give the mix some breathing room. I would say the other main consideration is keeping some of the slower tempo songs together, and likewise with the more uptempo tracks — the way I figure it, sections of a mixtape are essentially chapters of a book, so you try to have the content of those chapters stay as cohesive as possible within the context of a specific chapter, but you also want to have the chapters themselves flow into one another to maintain some sort of broader coherence for the overall narrative. Because whether it’s a single song or a 90-minute mixtape, music remains all about storytelling. The question is, what are you trying to say?
Nomadic Wax: Do you have a favorite track on this particular mix tape?
DJ Plain View: Yeah, the one Bocafloja does with Moyenei (“Fuga”). I’ve probably listened to that 300 times already, and it just doesn’t get old. Great beat, great lyrics, great singing, and the horns… the horns.
DJ Plain View’s Bio:
DJ Plain View released his debut LP — Globalize: Hip-Hop from Around the World — in 2010, featuring collaborations with 13 emcees from countries across Asia, the Middle East, Europe, Africa, and the Americas. Joining the Nomadic Wax team the following the year, DJ Plain View has collaborated closely with filmmaker and Nomadic creative director, Magee McIlvaine, providing original scores for short documentary films on overseas youth hip-hop culture. Always on the lookout for new lyrical and musical collaborators, DJ Plain View is now working on his sophomore release, Slow Burn, due out on the Nomadic Wax label in 2013. He lives in Washington, DC.
Be sure to listen to Internationally Known Vol.1, Internationally Known Vol. 2 & African Underground as well!