"Yo DJ ain't no DJ, he just makes them fucking mixtapes. Yo DJ ain't no DJ, he just hit that instant replay." True fact. Big Boi — the Atlanta rap impresario, one half of the legendary duo Outkast — said it, so it might as well be carved on stone tablets and come with an accompanying set of flammable shrubbery. Our DJ, on the other hand, is a real DJ — none of this MIDI-dongle-and-an-iPad malarkey, none of this retreading tired pop beats on datpiff.com bullshit, none of those "features" from world-famous rappers who have never set foot in his studio. Nope, our DJ trades in artfully technical turntablism, good taste and a personal philosophy that puts the needs of the party well ahead of the need to feed his ego. Our DJ has mastered the art of spinning heads, while your DJ is screaming over every track, sounding like an ass. True fact.
The DJ we speak of is Nashville's very own Wick-It the Instigator. You might recognize the name — we've endorsed him, let's just say a lot, over the years, including Best of Nashville nods in 2009 and 2010. Or you might not recognize the name — he's been playing on so many good shows, so often, for so long, that we eventually just started making up pseudonyms just to keep ourselves entertained: DJ Wicky Thump the Fourth Man, The Infamous Doctor Wicklestein, DJ Ti-Kciw the Reversible Rampart, other names that are so absurd they shouldn't see print a second time.
Wick-It's been a staple of the Nashville underground for almost a decade, from house parties and formative gigs at Murfreesboro's Liquid Smoke and the back room at Cafe Coco, to current reigning champions of clubland Mashville and Strictly Dubstep. Plus he's played a billion-and-a-half one-off shows, opening slots and DJ battles, not to mention the steady stream of genre-jumping albums, mixtapes and tracks that he's released steadily over the years. And the thing that keeps us — and audiences all over town — coming back time and time again is the sense of adventure and playfulness that he brings to each and every track and live show.
Nobody has more fun at a Wick-It show than Wick-it, and that seeps over into his recordings, from his dubstep remix of 2010's viral smash "The Bed Intruder Song" to the Beastie Boys/Grateful Dead mashup "Triple Shakedown" and the ragtime-rap of "I Love Myself." It's that same jocular sense that catapulted Wick-It from local favorite to Internet darling at the end of last year. See, Wick-It put together a fresh batch of mashups to celebrate Mashville's three-year anniversary last fall. One of the mashups slammed together The Black Keys' "Black Mud" — the one with all the whistling — and Big Boi's "Shutterbug." Then, in the circuitous way these things happen, Big Boi ended up hearing it, and before you could say, "Let's make this a thing," the gears were set in motion for Dr. Wicklestein to produce an entire album's worth of Big-Keys mashups, at the request of Sir Lucious Left Foot himself. The Brothers of Chico Dusty hit the Internet running, tearing through not only the hip-hop community and well-regarded websites like Nah Right, The Smoking Section and Okay Player, but garnering praise from such mainstream staples as Spin.com and NPR's All Songs Considered blog. Spin even went so far as to lump BoCD in with Danger Mouse's Beatles/Jay-Z collision The Grey Album, the record that legitimized mashups as an art form and still stands as the high water mark for what the genre can achieve.
As of this writing, the tracks on BoCD have wrung up nearly a quarter of a million spins on Soundcloud.com. That's a hell of a lot of listening, and doesn't include listeners on Mashville's Bandcamp page, websites that straight jacked the content, or the myriad unofficial sites like Mediafire and the Pirates Bay that are hosting downloads. BoCD is a certifiable hit, and Wick-It isn't about to rest on his laurels. He recently signed on with L.A. mega-management firm The Collective — the same folks who handle Big Boi, in case you were wondering — and he's already lining up projects with lots of promise. (The deets are still on the hush-hush, but we'll let you know what's what when we can.)
Which isn't to say anything has really changed: The patience that has kept Wick-It in the game so long is still at play. He still works the warehouse job that has afforded him the ability to turn down nudie bars and Top 40 — the kinds of gigs that have crushed many a DJ's soul over the years. You're still going to find him hanging out at the Green House or the Gold Rush on a night he has a show, and you're still going to see him popping up at clubs all over town. There might be a bigger gleam in his eye when he tells you about his latest projects, and there might be bigger, rowdier crowds when you go see him perform — there were reports of crowd-surfing at the last Mashville show — but essentially it's the same kid who was in the back of that little Murfreesboro cigar bar so many years ago.
But his success is still no small thing – it's rare for anything even tangentially related to Nashville hip-hop to garner national attention and even rarer that the local artist didn't need to leave Nashville to make it happen. We'd like to think this is a rising tide that will lift all boats, cluing in the outside world to the wealth of hip-hop and electronic talent that's been bubbling under this city's rhinestone surface for a while now. But that tide's probably not going to lift up your DJ if he keeps making those mixtapes and hitting that instant replay.