RAPSTATION/HIPHOPGODS: You've got such a distinct style and are always pushing the boundaries of what a DJ can and should be. When you were coming up and building your skills, who did you look to for inspiration?
DJ NU-MARK: Thank you, for production I really looked up to Marley Marl, Full Force, Prince Paul, Uncle Jams Army etc... DJ's that inspired me were Mix Master Ice, Howie Tee, Bambaataa, DJ Aladdin, Steve D....list goes on.
RAPSTATION/HIPHOPGODS: You've been on both sides of the fence, dealing with major labels, indy labels, and now being completely independent for your Broken Sunlight series. In 2012, what are some of the pro's and con's of being independent as an artist?
DJ NU-MARK: Well for the first time I'm a completely indie artist. In the past I was labeled as indie but had financing behind me/us (J5) in some way.....today all dollar investments lay entirely on my shoulders. I think the difference is that the stakes are much higher for me. I have to be completely honest with myself in my art because my own dollars have to back the art. I enjoy being able to make quick decisions these days but feel the void of man power behind me.....always trying to find the balance.
RAPSTATION/HIPHOPGODS: Back in September, you were inducted into the mighty Zulu Nation. How did the proceedings go and how did it feel?
DJ NU-MARK: It was a true honor to be inducted into Zulu....pretty much every artist I listened to and respected growing up is in Zulu. The proceedings were simple. Mark Luv inducted me with a medallion at a Pete Rock and Premier show here in L.A. I know 9th Wonder was inducted around the same time. We ended up doing a show with each other shortly after......hmmmm, Mark should have announced that on stage now that I think about it. Gonna call him and bust his chops about it.
RAPSTATION/HIPHOPGODS: You've had the opportunity to work with many artists, including some of your peers & friends, like Cut Chemist and DJ Shadow. Any chance we might see an album from the three of you in the future?
DJ NU-MARK: There hasn't been any conversation about that particular album. Last time Cut and I talked about collaborative art, I told him I needed to build my reputation up before him and I do anything in the future....I'm on that path as we speak.
RAPSTATION/HIPHOPGODS: You have a vinyl collection of over 35,000 records. How long have you seriously been collecting and, if you had to narrow it down to just keeping five of the records, which ones would you keep?
DJ NU-MARK: I started at 13 years old. I'd never slim my collection in that fashion...(laughs). That said, I'd have to keep Main Source (Breaking Atoms), Can (Vitamin C), Ernie Hines (Our Generation), Tribe Called Quest (Midnight Marauders), De La Soul (De La Soul Is Dead)......this is a loose list and almost impossible to really create for me. Palms sweating just thinking about it.
RAPSTATION/HIPHOPGODS: There aren't many groups in hip hop anymore, especially with the skill level of Jurassic 5. If the right opportunity came along, would you enjoy being a part of a group again?
DJ NU-MARK: Yes, especially if it's in the fashion of a collaborating with my peers.....maybe a super group etc....hint hint...something might be coming along those lines soon. At heart I'm really a team player and I understand group dynamics. The toughest part is personalities and aligning everyone's vision of the group.
RAPSTATION/HIPHOPGODS: If you could put yourself in any era of hip-hop history, which era would you want to be placed in? One, when the DJ was the main focus as opposed to today, where the emcee is center stage?
DJ NU-MARK: I would put myself in the middle school era of Hip Hop. To clarify, I guess that era would really be the 90's where my generation had an understanding and embraced the importance of the old school yet was trying to forge a new sound in order to keep the genre alive. I'd personally like to be labeled as a innovative DJ from the middle school.
RAPSTATION/HIPHOPGODS: Let’s transition your latest project, BROKEN SUNLIGHT, You describe it via your website http://www.unclenu.com/ as "A 10" SERIES which will be rolled out over SEVEN MONTHS WITH FIRST 10" SET FOR RELEASE ON APRIL 24, 2012." Why call it "Broken Sunlight"?
DJ NU-MARK: There was a reoccurring theme going on in my life during the creation of this album all centered around breaks, broken items, split ideas etc... I decided to break this album up into 7 pieces because most people don't buy albums anymore, My long term relationship with my group was broken, Our economy is very broken, Hip Hop is fighting a battle for current relevance in comparison to Dub Step and electronic music. I'm constantly breaking up beats and phrases of records to create the art (Sunlight). The Sunlight part is also a reference to me and that I'm still forging ahead during broken times. There's nothing happy about this album, it's more of a truthful representation of who I am and what I'm going through as a Hip Hop DJ/Producer today.
RAPSTATION/HIPHOPGODS: From the first 10" installment, you released "Dumpin Em All" featuring Bumpy Knuckles and "When You Sleep" featuring Large Professor...why did you choose to work with these two emcees?
DJ NU-MARK: Large Pro was literally on my list of artist that I needed to work with before I died. We had great chemistry in the studio because we're cut from the same artistic cloth. Bumpy came to mind after the beat was created. I needed an mc that commanded respect and exerted a raw energy to match the beat. Collaborations come to mind when I make a beat that asks for a particular vocalists voice or lyrics.....I don't collaborate with homies just because they're my homies. The art comes first and always will.
RAPSTATION/HIPHOPGODS: I’ve always wondered when a DJ is the creator of the album, such as Broken Sunlight, what is the creative process like? Did you have an overall concept for this album prior to making it? Did you already have a wish list of emcees you wanted to work with? Do you tell the emcee the concept behind the track and then have them write around it?
DJ NU-MARK: Yeah I have a list of mc's I must work with before I leave earth but if their flow doesn't match my back beat then the music will sound forced. So for Broken Sunlight, I simply created beats that moved me. I took the collaboration on a beat by beat basis. So when this J-Live single drops at the end of May hopefully you'll hear why he fits on that beat. On this particular track with J, I wanted him to encompass real problems today with Hip Hop, our economy, personal problems etc...without sounding preachy....just something represents today.
RAPSTATION/HIPHOPGODS: You recently collaborated with Slimkid3 (The Pharcyde) on two tracks “Another Day Another Dollar” and “Friday Night,” how did that collaboration come to be? Any particular reason y'all decided to release “Another Day Another Dollar” as the lead single?
DJ NU-MARK: Those two songs were really Tre's joints for his project and so it was his choice for the lead single etc.... That said we both feel like there's much more we could create in the studio for the future. He's one of the most open minded mc's I've collaborated with and that makes the artistic possibilities endless and encouraging for both of us.
RAPSTATION/HIPHOPGODS: What’s the future for Nu-Mark?
DJ NU-MARK: I'm currently creating music for a movie on Sony called Planet B-Boy. This is not a documentary but more like a sports movie meets B-Boys. This is my first shot at scoring on a major motion picture level and I'm extremely honored and blessed to have this opportunity. I've been knocking' on this door for 15 years now. Special shout out to Ervin Erana for introducing me to the producer and allowing me to creating late 60's sounding breaks!! Also be on the look out for all the singles coming in the Broken Sunlight Series. I'm doing a video for every single and there will be colored vinyl 10"'s for each as well... http://www.unclenu.com/ will be the store. Visit me! Thanks!!
- Tim Einenkel & Flatline for RAPstation/HIPHOPGODS.com
Follow us on Twitter @kosher22 and @hiphopgods