Not a single element of hip-hop culture is missing from the work of formerJurrassic 5 DJ Nu-Mark, who came of age in a world of breakers, MCs,***image1*** graffiti artists and turntablists. These artists properly represented that golden era when hip-hop had just begun to evolve into a credible genre full of fresh possibilities. This was when hip-hop hardly extended beyond the borders of the Bronx. Pioneers such as The Sugarhill Gang, Grandmaster Flash and Kool Herc were able to persuade younger generations to create music in what was virtually untouched territory at the time.
Nu-Mark was clearly one of those kids. At 14 he got his first set of turntables, which he says "was a piece of crap." But he quickly became hooked on the feeling he got every time his hands touched a record. Powerful influences such as Mix Master Ice from UTFO, DJ Aladdin, Howie T, Cash Money and DJ Jazzy Jeff weighed heavily on an impressionable young Nu-Mark. In particular, DJ Aladdin and the DMC Battles that were prevalent in the '80s taught Nu-Mark how to follow patterns, position his posture and emulate the style.
Fast forward 22 years and Nu-Mark continues to scratch, mix, blend and cut with relentless fervor. His beats are on numerous projects that effortlessly intertwine soul, funk, hip-hop, samba and Brazilian rhythms. His innovative DJ routines and creative onstage antics make him a favorite among crowds all over the world. Additionally, his mastery of a complex, six-piece DJ rig and his playful incorporation of children's musical toys amaze and delight crowds of up to 50,000 people. Although the recent show at The Lodge did not feature xylophones, triangles or recorders, it was undoubtedly one of the best DJ sets Santa Fe has been blessed with in awhile.
By 10 pm, an extensive line had formed at the door and the dance floor had rapidly filled up. Local DJ Flobug started the night with Paul's Boutique-era Beastie Boys, The Bee Gee's "Stayin' Alive" and vintage Daft Punk, then smoothly transitioned into MC Chris' "Star Wars Gangster Rap," which was a definite crowd pleaser.
Next up, Santa Fe's DJ Atron added his own unique flavor with more club bangers, old-school favorites and electronic geniuses. Shortly after Atron's set, DJ and host Perish One announced that there were "technical difficulties." Low levels, incorrect frequencies, faulty chords and a dead iPod caused a muted sound to litter the air.
In a brief moment of panic, emcees Cas_Uno and Perish One stepped up to the mic to spit some freestyles and beat-box routines, which distracted the audience from the five-minute delay while the sound man scrambled to figure out the problem.
"I'd rather have a DJ spin wax for me any day instead of an iPod playing the beats for me," Cas_Uno commented to SFR post-show. "I was kind of glad it turned out that way."
The swift-thinking emcees finished up a 30-minute set that satisfied the crowd. The '90s set Albuquerque's DJ NTox threw down complemented the perfect microcosms of hip-hop culture that sprung up around the room. While NTox dropped A Tribe Called Quest's "Award Tour" and The Pharcyde's "Drop," a viable breaker's circle formed at the back of the room. B-boys and B-girls tore it up with signature dance moves and jaw-dropping acrobatics. An unlikely B-boy, who looked more like a hippie, busted out a back-flip that generated a slew of enthusiastic cheers.
Arriving early, Nu-Mark stepped up to the tables around 11:30 pm. What followed was a killer 2-hour set that established what makes Nu-Mark one of the most innovative DJs in the world.
Nu-Mark explains, "I like scratching but I think it's so unimportant in the grand scheme of things. Scratching got pushed to the forefront because it was visual. It was one way to watch a DJ solo. As far as deejaying goes, my main focus is to be well-rounded. That means being able to rock a party, cut it up a little, blend and double up on records."
Nu-Mark had no problem displaying his vast knowledge of funk, soul, hip-hop and even country. He transitioned from Souls of Mischief's '93 "Til Infinity" and Bell Biv DeVoe's "Poison" to Al Green's "Let's Stay Together" and Johnny Cash's "Walk The Line." Surprisingly, he also blended vintage gangster rap such as Too Short and Dr. Dre with more traditional old-school classics such as Rob Base and Black Sheep. He managed to sneak in J5's "What's Golden," the track that made him a well-known producer in the industry. He seemed to be at his best when he was playing the funk records, admittedly his preferred material.
"Technology in general was right during the era between 1968-1974. The drums sound nice and woody. Everything sounds natural," he says. "That's what trips me out about music today. It's more about what you look like or how young you are, rather than the quality."
Nu-Mark continued to display quality crowd control for the remainder of the evening. He knew how to respond to the dancers' reactions and kept people on the floor until 2 am.
"I feel I'm in a really lucky situation because when I'm dead and gone, the music will still be around -- either in someone's garage or laying around the house somewhere," Nu-Mark says. "It's always been about the music I feel and then create. I'm not trying to be anyone I'm not." Judging by the audience's reaction, Nu-Mark is on top of his game. His show exemplified hip-hop in all of its magnificent manifestations.