DJ Innovation is getting a little too old for this shit. The damn rap music coming out these days sounds nothing like the soulful 90s beats from The Pharcyde or A Tribe Called Quest he still favors. Not to mention all these groups he keeps working with that don’t seem to consider the DJ an equal position as the other band mates.
“I’ve been grinding and grinding but it seems like when I stop grinding there are few people who will grind for me,” Inno confides, “They don’t ever seem to remember who put them on back when they were just starting out once they pass you in exposure and booking opportunities.”
Here is Innovation with Underated’s Heavyset on ‘Underated By Most’:
This topic came up numerous times in various ways during my recent interview with Innovation (aka Shawn Lynch) a Southside St. Louis resident DJ of both the record spinning and scratch crushing variety. Over a hard fought, tumultuous decade and a half Inno has worked with most of the influential Hip Hop and Rock bands in the STL music scene and performed with the likes of Wu-Tang, Gift Of Gab, Planet Asia, M80, & Kool Keith.
To call DJ Innovation a Marathon Man is an understatement. Inno is the DJ who is already up and spinning by doors at the club and stays on to scratch with every act that comes on that night. He’s right back up there in between sets throwing down dope mash ups of old classics mixed with the latest superfly instrumentals. Innovation is the last to leave the stage at the end of the night….continuing his onslaught of hot wax until last call at the club. DJing live for 7 hours straight on the 1s and 2s is nothing new to him.
Innovation has an ear for what’s good and isn’t afraid to speak his mind about whether he likes something or not. This has proved problematic on occasion when insecure rapper’s feathers get ruffled but he stands by his guns,
“I have this little pocket that fits in my ear and not much music fits in it….but it’s a pleasure when something does!”
Check out DJ Innovation scratching with Silly J Skills on ‘I Can Feel It’:
Speaking from personal experience I can attest that Inno rarely minces words. But isn’t that what we truly want from our DJ? Even when Innovation would criticize the mix on a song of mine or tell me he didn’t care for a certain verse on a record I knew it was coming from a genuinely passionate and constructive place. He was a behind the scenes string puller and ghost maven connector of the STL underground. He ran with St. Louis Hip Hop pioneers Midwest Avengers & helped DJ, produce, & promote The Red Sea Mic Fights which were my first serious successful foray into Battle Rapping. Inno was on the wheels when I won my first battle title. Then my second the following week. And my third the week after that. We’ve been cosmic allies ever since.
Over 15 years of hard work Innovation found a way to make his live DJ skills and his next level scratching ability open doors into numerous different entertainment arenas. From an early impromptu scratch battle in Puerto Rico Puma store with DJ Godfather to spinning a halftime set at STL’s Busch Stadium during a Cardinals/Cubs game he has been many places and slain many dragons. The list of local STL artists he has featured with includes Intellect Emcee, Core Project, Underated, Pandelerium, Mr. I, LK, So’N'So & Silly J Skills. He has M80 and RA the Rugged Man’s management info in his cell phone. He has collaborated with artists in Germany, United Kingdom, & Australia.
Here is Inno with Pandelerium on ‘Max Pain’ ft Tef Poe & Corey Black:
Innovation is married to wife Candace Lynch and the new father of a bouncing baby boy Logan Lynch. He’s still grinding but with a new sense of refinement. Club gigs are few and far between for the DJ who has toured all over the Missouri and Illinois college towns and blazed a path through the majority of the Midwest. From Minneapolis to Colorado Springs, Kansas City to Chicago, Columbus to Carbondale he has figuratively ‘been there and done that’ to the death.
Now DJ Innovation helps run the music programming for my internet radio show/podcast ‘Tucker Booth Needs A Job’ every Monday from 2-4 LA Time (4-6 STL Time) on www.killradio.org. Through his weekly segment ‘Pump It Or Dump It’ Inno introduces us to a wide array of music he knows and loves by artists he knows need the exposure. I am proud to say that Innovation and I are breaking new music each and every week now on Kill Radio. That may be the achievement of Inno’s I admire most.
DJ Innovation: Perpetual Tastemaker. Catlike Reflexes. Ear For Dopeness. Still Ahead Of The Curve. Headed For Greatness. What Are His Future Aspirations?
“I aspire to be on as many quality albums and works of music as possible. I aspire to keep doing music in the future and work with quality artists to reach new levels of artistic development.”
Classic Innovation Indeed.
Interview c/o Kill Radio and www.radio4all.net. Search the Podcast Directory on www.radio4all.net for over 60+ ‘Tucker Booth’ & Hip Hop related podcasts.
Audio Interview With DJ Innovation:
One of the cool things about being an artist is that you get to meet some of the most talented and creatively gifted people on the planet. In my case, I’ve been blessed to have had the opportunity of actually working with some of these artists and it’s an honor to now be on the other side of the entertainment industry conducting the interviews rather than being the topic of them. About 4 years ago, I met the very talented MC/DJ Oxygen in New York City and we instantly clicked. We have since collaborated on a couple of songs and also shot a video for a single that was released off of my “Lipstick n’ Microphones” Mixtape called “64 Bits”. Recently, I had the chance to catch up with the busy MC while returning from his European Tour. Check out what Oxygen has to say about what made him get into the business and his thoughts on the European Hip Hop scene.
DJ D.I.M.E.: How did you come up with the name Oxygen?
Oxygen: It was around the late 1990′s, and I had been out of the scene for several years. I was still doing some DJ’ing at the time while I was living in the south. I was also writing, but still hadn’t officially arrived as a recording artist. The situations that had fallen through for me during the early 90′s I wanted to wean myself from, and the start of that for me was to establish an attribute that was fitting. I came up with the name ‘Oxygen’ which served as a dual meaning. Refreshing myself, and bringing new life onto the scene with my new identity.
DJ D.I.M.E.: How long have you been in the business?
Oxygen: I recorded my first serious recordings in 1990, and my first record was released that same year. Back then, I was doing some recording down in Miami, FL with Bob Marley’s original chef and personal assistant named Gilly Dread. He had set up a meeting with Chris Blackwell at Island Records, but I didn’t have proper representation then so I never signed the contracts for a deal. That said, I never really “officially” entered the music business other than indy releases on smaller labels.
DJ D.I.M.E.: What was it like growing up in the Long Island area in regards to Hip Hop?
Oxygen: Long Island was lovely to grow up in. It wasn’t as fast paced as NY City. We were still exposed to everything culturally, and in my immediate area we had plenty of contributors to the craft. There would be lots of block parties, backyard parties, and street corner ciphers in addition to the various radio shows (mainstream and college) that kept us up to speed. It was all here though. The B-boying, the DJ’s, the writing, the emceeing, the fashion, the park jam tapes. It was great!
DJ D.I.M.E.: Which do you prefer rhyming or DJing?
Oxygen: I actually don’t have a preference. I love them both equally. I need to work more on my DJ skills though.
DJ D.I.M.E.: What made you get into MC’ing?
Oxygen: Coming up I was collecting records, attempting to DJ, and writing rhymes at the same time. Back then, it wasn’t out of the ordinary to be a DJ/MC. They kind of went hand-in-hand, especially when me and my little crew started getting into making our demo tapes. We would DJ while the next one rocked the mic, and vice versa. Around my way every summer, we had an event called “Wyandanch Day” which was essentially an anniversary party of the town held in the park. There would be a variety of DJ’s sound systems set up, and local emcees would get on and move the crowd. That was my first exposure to live MC’ing. I just liked the way the people responded and how they would freak the echo chamber. It’s a beautiful thing.
DJ D.I.M.E.: As a DJ who are your most influential DJs?
Oxygen: Wow. It’s hard to pick just one. There’s so many types of DJ’s, and I’ve been influenced by so many over the years. I can’t even say I have a MOST influential one though.
DJ D.I.M.E.: I know you just came off of an European tour; how does the European Hip Hop scene differ from the U.S. scene?
Oxygen: Definitely the appreciation level seems to be way higher outside of the U.S. My highest concentration of shows in the states have been right in New York. One thing I noticed about doing shows abroad, heads are more inclined to nod their heads & rock to your songs even if they aren’t familiar with them. I love rocking here at home for the natives too. It’s a bit more challenging, but those stone faces in the crowd help keep you on your square.
DJ D.I.M.E.: What was it like to tour with Hip Hop icons Public Enemy?
Oxygen: That was only just a spot date although they were on a full tour. That experience was awesome! I think the illest part was walking through the crowd before PE came on and noticing three generations of Hip Hop present. There will never be another group in this lifetime like Public Enemy. It was a great honor to share the stage with them, especially me being a HUGE fan and also from Long Island rocking out in another country. Very proud moment.
DJ D.I.M.E.: Who are your most influential musical artists?
Oxygen: Curtis Mayfield, Stevie Wonder, Billy Joel, Earth Wind & Fire, Nina Simone, Chicago, John Coltrane, Black Thought, Big Daddy Kane, KRS, Rakim, System Of A Down, Whitney Houston…….. the list goes on and on.
DJ D.I.M.E.: What new projects do you have on the table; any future projects coming up?
Oxygen: My group Soundsci just wrapped up an album with Ubiquity Records titled “Soundsational”. Still cooking up treats with my brother, DJ Spinna. Our next SPOX PhD single is just about wrapped up. A few features on deck too with Fabreeze Brothers (Paul Nice & Phill Most Chill), Live Percenters, and Wyld Bunch.
DJ D.I.M.E.: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Oxygen: Traveling the world with my daughter, 10-15 lbs slimmer, still entertaining in some capacity, and I do wish to go back to school at some point to get a degree.
DJ D.I.M.E.: Do you prefer being an underground artist or do you aspire to become mainstream?
Oxygen: Underground is cool. However I do aspire to have some of my music available for licensing in film or commercials. THAT level of mainstream is the dream.
DJ D.I.M.E.: How did you come up with the video concept for “Gone Diggin’”?
Oxygen: That was a collective concept between myself and the filmmakers, Fishing Cat Films. They were extremely pleasant to work with and did a fantastic job piecing all those parts together. I love watching that video still.
Images by: Stephen Collier
Oxygen ”Gone Diggin” video:
I got a chance last month to chew the fat by phone with Hip Hop Superman M80 on L.A.’s own www.killradio.org. Beyond being a Freestyle Rap Phenomenon who holds the Guinness World Record for World’s Longest Freestyle (9+ hours straight) M80 may be one of the toughest white rappers on the planet. He has battled many men who have wished death on him and he has prevailed. How many of you would have the nuts to battle Canibus?
In his own words on his Twitter profile M describes himself as an “A&R Extraordinaire with 15 Billboard Hip-Hop & R&B Top 200 releases for clients including Wu-Tang, Kurupt, Canibus, Redman, Keith Murray, Planet Asia, & more!” @almightym80
From the sound of things his life is on a continuous uptrend and we should expect to see big things from M80 in the summer months including stops at Coachella and Hempcon L.A. Check out his smoking hot website & accessories at http://www.glasscity419.com.
On this episode we caught up fresh off of M80′s recent tour with Wu-Tang’s Cappadonna. As per usual awesomeness ensued.
In case you couldn’t tell from my profile pic I am a white boy from the suburbs. This does not mean I am a narc, mark, or oligarch but it does make me innately square. Face it: what kind of Honors English Dork drops ‘oligarch’ in their first 4 stanzas? The prosecution rests.
Born on the tail end of Generation X I scarcely recall a time in my life where I didn’t feel compelled to fight the power while simultaneously aligning myself with the power source and benefiting from its’ amenities. With this scurrlious and hypocritical game plan came opportunities to subvert my surrounding conservative compatriots’ social values, ideals, & biases. These countrified folks wanted no part of anything even remotely “urban.” Trips to the city were made for work or to enjoy the entertainments within but there was never any thought of emulating their aesthetic surroundings. If anything the litter and graffiti that strafed our city blocks became a bitter reminder to the suburbanites of not only why they didn’t want to live in the city…but what was wrong with human nature. Graf had no artistic value in their eyes. Bombing & Tagging pieces were no more than unsightly vandalism that deserved to be taken down ASAP.
As I referenced earlier I had a healthy compulsion for breaking the rules as a youth. If you made a list of all the ‘bad’ things I did I’m sure crudely scrawled chicken scratch graffiti made it on there occasionally. That said I never fashioned myself much of a visual artist so any sort of painting (spray can regardless) was daunting and seemingly unmasterable to me. I did have friends who made amazing graf pieces in their sketch books and on canvass who would go on tagging & bombing missions in the wee hours of night. I definitely was thrilled by the cloak and dagger appeal of these outlaw Hip Hop Rembrandts and their dangerous pastime but knew better than to think I was either talented or slick enough to get away with joining in the subterfuge. Thus I took my appreciation for all things creative and illegal & relegated myself to the role of sideline appreciator & constant noticer of all things Graf.
Every Monday I take the Vermont/Sunset Metro Bus into the heart of Hollywood. I start out 20 miles away at the Metro Link station and make the hour long trek to my radio show going right by the USC campus & football stadium. Even out here in my current L.A. suburb of Redondo Beach the neighborhoods I span on my Monday bus trip are considered ghetto. Burnt out buidlings, package liquor stores, & check cashing shops line each and every street. Graffiti, impressive and shitty looking, drenches every conceivable square acre of space. Every wall a mural meets message board for taggers to battle & communicate. Since I am a relative novice I look at it with the same wistful ignorance as many of the urban campers who live in tents down by the Metro Link tracks. I am drawn to the naughty nature of the act itself but have no idea how to personalize the stark information I’ve been directly presented. Since the nature of this type of artistry has to be protected for obvious there are few glossaries to consult when trying to sort gang code banter from authentic bombing artisanry.
As if on cue I was hipped to the least square website I may have ever peeped. Bombing Science (www.bombingscience.com) is a graffiti culture megasite complete with a plethora of great pics of Walls, Freight Trains, Street Art, Tags, & Bombing from all over the world. Graf geniuses spanning from Paris to Montreal to Barcelona to Panama City to New York City & L.A. are being featured in a variety of forums with expert layout and analysis.
Bombing Science features in depth interviews with a revolving door of dope dudes including Tox, Omen, & Joe Volt. Their blog section is also impressive with an active assortment of articles on all things graffiti such as debates on the merits of graffiti vs. street art. I dare think you may be able to dig add infinitum and never run out of tantalizing images to enjoy. There is also a full service shop that sells spray paint, markers, tips, books, movies, magazines, shoes, and Graf/Hip-Hop clothing accessories.
Nearly everything I’ve laid my eyes on so far is quintessentially “Sick.” Even as square as I know I am it would be out of character to demand you do anything I recommend. If I were to be that obtuse I would so totally force you to go immerse yourself in the fine art of Bombing Science. You wouldn’t regret it.
15 Years In The Trenches With DJ Innovation (Interview) DJ Innovation is getting a >>Read more..