DJ Godfather interview: Shake that Booty
Saturday, April 15, 2006
Detroit's DJ Godfather, aka Brian Jeffries, has introduced ghetto-tech to the world but, above all, he's a hip hop head. The American has never been a one-dimensional DJ. He applies the skills of the turntablist to party sets of hip hop, electro and booty.
In Detroit Godfather is omnipresent in the club scene and on the airwaves. (He's aligned with the urban station Hot 102.7.) Ironically, more than the techno contingent, Godfather has connected with Detroit's partygoers. What's more, in 2006, he's Detroit's main stalwart of ghetto-tech, with DJ Assault now living in Atlanta and Disco D in the Big Apple.
Godfather has long been into hip hop. He met with the producers of Eminem's '8 Mile' about portraying a DJ (possibly they feared having two streetwise white dudes would dilute the story, so they picked DJ Head instead). Luckily, Godfather is content creating the music. Of late he's been laying down hip hop with DJ Omega. "I'm doing a whole hip hop album for him and, I tell you what, it's the best thing that's ever come out of that studio," he enthuses. Godfather states that the music sounds like "Down South Ying Yang Twins meets Paul Wall meets Mike Jones kinda stuff." In fact, the DJ has formed a production company, The Commission, with a guitarist who's played for George Clinton, Aretha Franklin and Anita Baker. "We have over 100 beats done."
So far Godfather has had interest from Suga Suga rapper Baby Bash. "We actually sent him some tracks and he wrote a song to one of our beats," he says. "I didn't even hear the song yet, but I heard he got dropped from Universal, so I don't know what's going on with it, but it's cool that he liked it." The Commission are also touting beats to Young Jeezy's fledgling concern. Then there's the music they're cutting for Sarah Stokes from Making The Band. "She's a really good singer, too - she's on the first series of Making The Band," Godfather says.
In Detroit the DJ is respected for his business acumen. Godfather is a workaholic, not at all complacent about his status in the Motor City, and so, though making moves into hip hop, he refuses to neglect his other commitments. "I feel like I have to maintain everything - like all the clubs here, DJing, that's pretty much my job," he says.
Having learnt about the music business serving in Detroit's Record Time store, Godfather developed the ghetto-tech label Twilight 76, likewise the name of his distribution company. He followed with the electro offshoot Databass. And, as of recently, he's become the co-owner of the electro-house Mixed Signals. This month on Mixed Signals he's issuing Turn Me Loose with Mike Scroggs as Detroit Incorporated.
Godfather compares Mixed Signals to the music of Benny Benassi, or Steve Angello, and divulges that while "house has never really been my thing," he's coming around. "That stuff is so fucking easy to make," he laughs. "Actually, I'm not gonna lie, I'm starting to like it a little bit. It kinda reminds me of the Detroit sound with the electro bassline - and it's house music. It's crazy 'cause it's almost like this slowed-down commercial form of ghetto music, if you think about it, so it's easy for me to make. Honestly, I think a lot of those guys grabbed some of their ideas from ghetto records and started putting them in house records, 'cause if you listen to a lot of that shit it's really Detroit-influenced. You hear a lot of those electro basslines from Detroit records and these guys are almost duplicating them and putting them over house beats now. So, yeah, it's been a trip."
Most significantly, Godfather, aware of the changing dance market, is venturing into digital technology with the support of his manager Oliver Way. "We're still pouring out the records like crazy, but we've had a lotta problems with distributors paying us, because records are selling slowe Tags