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Cash Money - In The Till

Author: RK
Monday, 29 October 2007
There must be a fair bit of pressure on the DJ who continues to receive accolades left, right and centre. And Philadelphia’s Jerome Hewlett [or DJ Cash Money as he is better known] must be feeling that pressure. Like many famed jocks after [and even a few before], Cash Money appreciated the hip-hop grass roots. He embraced the culture and with some encouragement from the likes of Grand Master Flash, Grand Wizard Rasheen and perhaps the greatest of all – Grand Wizard Theodore – took to the turntables.

He claims “turntablism has basically given my creativity a place in history – as far as the DJ culture, I'm glad the younger generation is keeping the art form alive - hip hop being so very much divided”. He tells the story of how back in the day, you could go to a hip hop concert and see b-boys & girls dancing, there would be a mural on the wall with different types of graffiti and MCs and DJs – now it seems it’s just rap [the two definitions are constantly being argued and debated]. “Artists just talking about how they got shot - everybody is a thug now. Back then, this is not what hip hop was about. If you listen to the music today, of all the rap you see on video and hear on the radio, I often wonder how many will become classics like Doug E Fresh and Slick Rick, Biz Markie, A Tribe Called Quest, KRS One, De La Soul, NWA, Public Enemy, Beastie Boys. Not many”. It seems though, that this is not an instance of pessimism – rather it’s a realistic assessment of the industry in which he finds himself. Optimistically even, he adds “I love what the younger DJs are doing. Keep it up, I'm proud of you!”

After having won, I don’t know, every single damn competition in history [is that an exaggeration- not really] – he has been named into the DMC Hall of Fame and been bestowed an even greater honor, called the Greatest DJ in the World. Yes, DJ Cash Money is what you would call a musical ambassador, a title he gladly takes with honors. He also deserves credit for creating - or at least perfecting [DJ Spinbad invented it, but Cash Money took it to another level] the transformer scratch. Difficult to put into words, imagine a Transformer’s robotic voice, cut furiously across a mixing desk, with a beat which is terribly easy to bounce to. And the same principles can be applied to any such sample – websites have even devoted step by step instructions on the maneuver!

Nevertheless, revered by successes like Fatboy Slim, this entertainer doesn’t just spin hip hop. A typical performance can include reggae and RnB or more electric material like breaks and disco. “I kind of know why commercial songs are hits. Because all of the radio stations and video programs play the same shit. What I play is some of that stuff for the people that look at videos all day, but then I play the stuff I love. Pretty much the classics - whether that be RnB, 70’s, hip hop or whatever, I have done enough parties all over the world to know that I have got a feel for what the crowd wants”. But to sell Cash Money as purely a block-rocking party DJ would be contemptible. He is a producer too, spending much time in the studio. “I have always done tracks, I love making them. I'm from the old school where you dig for records to sample something that nobody knows or has heard before. I love breaking new tracks in front of crowds. A lot of times I would play a song that nobody has heard before and watch the dancefloor clear. I come back to that same club 2 months later and the song I had played that cleared the dancefloor is a #1 hit! It just goes to show how programmed people are. It's really sad, it takes people 100 times to hear a song on the radio and then they say it’s crazy!” Yet despite that, you can rest assured you will walk away from a party like this thinking damn, that was dope. For he promises one hell of a show. “I give you all that I've got. That's hip hop son…”

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