This platform is built on the belief that hip hop is a powerful, meaningful force in giving people in the margins a community, as well as serving as a catalyst for change in both individuals and communities. DJ Root’s testament of these truths in his own life is what will likely connect his story to yours. Before all of the accomplishments and accolades, Root is a lover of this culture; he is one who has found healing through the music birthed by hip hop. For him, Atmosphere’s Overcast! has been an album that has connected him to like-minded others (particularly a childhood friend), as well as served as a therapeutic tool to pass through the stages of grief after losing a loved one. After being so richly poured into and influenced by hip hop culture, it is no wonder that DJ Root is giving back so much. He is a part of the influential DJ crew, No Sucker DJs, he contributes to the bigger discussion on hip hop’s influence on society, whether through laughter or serious conversation, on The Rec Crew Show, and he pours his soul into San Diego’s hip hop scene through throwing Battle Bot monthly, as well as through creating music both for listeners to vibe to and for emcees to rhyme to. Don’t take it from me, take a break from your routine today and listen to his story from San Diego’s DJ Root himself. Enjoy.
SDLHH: Who is DJ Root?
DJ Root: I’m a guy who loves comics, wrestling, DJing, and making beats. I grew up in Detroit and now I live here in San Diego. I like to think of myself as hip hop’s Razor Ramon.
SDLHH: Can you tell SDLHH a story about how hip hop has changed your life?
DJ Root: Hip hop is one of the few things that has stayed constant in my life. It’s the thing that helps me focus the most and has gotten me through the hardest times in my life. I remember when I was a kid, one of my best friends introduced to Atmosphere and she bought me the album Overcast – one of my favorite albums of all time, by the way. My friend passed a few years back, and I was really depressed by it. I couldn’t stop thinking about her and it was crazy because my other friends were trying cheer me up but couldn’t. I listened to Multiples from Overcast and couldn’t help but be happy and remember all the great times we had together. Most of the bonds I’ve made in life are because of the culture! I love this culture!
SDLHH: You wear many hats Root: a DJ, a producer, a driving force behind Battle Bot, an integral part of The Rec Crew Podcast, and more. What are you most excited to tell SDLHH’s readers about here and now?
DJ Root: Just doing what I can! Thanks for having me also. I’m excited to talk about hip hop as always, Battle Bot, a upcoming beat tape that I have coming up, and much more.
SDLHH: So can you tell us a bit about The Rec Crew Podcast – how it came to be, who all is involved, what it’s purpose/function is, and your role in it?
DJ Root: The Rec Crew Show is a podcast I record with my friends CT On The Track and Killa E. I am one of the hosts of the show. Our mission on the show is to have fun and talk to people in our in community that are doing dope things. We just started the show after talking about it on our way back from a beat battle in Vegas. The Rec Crew isn’t just open to musicians; we want to talk to anyone who’s involved in making San Diego great.
SDLHH: You are a part of the well-respected No Sucker DJs crew, as well. How did you connect with No Sucker? What are you currently up to when behind the wheels of steel? Where can readers go to catch you live?
DJ Root: Yeah I am and I couldn’t ask to be part of a better crew! Quick shout out to everyone in the crew: Artistic, Tramlife, Legend, Felt1, DJ L, Dauché, Yo Colombo, and if I forgot anyone, my bad. I started to learn to DJ from DJ Artistic, aka the Commander In Chief, after I graduated high school. He taught me everything I know, and there’s a lot he’s still teaching me. I got officially inducted into the crew on my 18th birthday. You can catch me at Clutch Bar, April 15th, mixing up some hip hop with my good brother, Tramlife!
SDLHH: Battle Bot is your baby, right? Can you tell readers who might not be in the know what Battle Bot is and how they can make sure to be at the next one?
DJ Root: I think Battle Bot is everyone who’s involved with it’s baby. I’m just one part of Battle Bot and it’s nothing without the community that supports it. For those who don’t know what Battle Bot is, it’s an event that brings the elements of hip hop together at the Casbah. We hold these monthly events for people who want to enjoy hip hop music and see great battles. MCs, Dancers, DJs, and Producers go head-to-head for cash and prizes. You can check out GoodVibeSD and follow us on Facebook for upcoming dates for Battle Bot.
SDLHH: How long has Battle Bot been around? Do you feel like your vision for it is being realized? What are some of the markers that you’ve hit that made/make you feel like it is what you had hoped it would become?
DJ Root: We’re going on 3 years on June 17th! With every Battle Bot that comes and goes, it gets better. We always have people telling us how inspired the event leaves them. I just love that we’re giving people an outlet for their creativity. Having Exile and Mr. Brady drop beat sets are my markers for the success of the event. I just want Battle Bot to continue being a staple in the San Diego hip hop scene.
SDLHH: At the March 2017 Battle Bot, attendees got to see you come out from behind your clipboard (haha) and got to see some of your musical genius shine as a participant in the beat battle. I’d like to touch on your work as a producer a little now. How did you get into making beats? Who are some of the local (or other) artists you have produced for? Are there any projects on the horizon that we should have our ears open for if we want to hear your production?
DJ Root: Yeah, that was a wild night for me. That battle went into double overtime against Vince Point Five. I got into producing when I got the Maschine as a birthday present and couldn’t tear myself away from it. Making beats is like therapy for me and takes me to another zone. There was a track that was recently released for two super dope MCs Skinny Veny and Ric Scales called Mandible Claw. Man I love the name of that track since I’m a huge wrestling fan. I’ll hopefully release a beat project on my born day September 25 of this year. It’ll be a beat tape for people to vibe to and maybe some MCs can rock over a few beats.
SDLHH: As a DJ, part of your job/role, is to know what’s going on in music, both locally and worldwide. Who are some San Diego artists, some West Coast artists and some artists beyond, who we should be listening to right now?
DJ Root: Right now I’ve been rocking to that project “Leave It All Behind” from 18scales (Ric Scale & 18 Sense). Another project that’s in rotation is “Liquid Swards” for SamRi and entirely produced by P-Rob. Have you heard the new Ryan Bower song that dropped? It’s called DownHill. It’s really good! I’m listening to so much new music right like Your Old Droog album, Oddisee’s Iceberg, ATOWorldwide, Joey Purp, Boogie, Aminé, Kaytranada, Michael Christmas and Open Mike Eagle.
SDLHH: Through each of the avenues you have discussed so far, you are such an asset to and advocate for San Diego; you know about a lot of what’s going on right now in the scene as a whole. What are some of the brands and venues that readers who are looking to support the local scene should check out?
DJ Root: For my music lovers in San Diego, you need to hit up Skoolyard Records and Beat Box Records. Make sure to follow the Park and Wreck Collective – they’re always throwing cyphers and having producer sets at their events. Shout out to TEC. that guy is a great MC and producer. Everyone over JAM’N 95.7 like DJ Jam, Beto Perez, and Reckless. They’re doing awesome things with their San Diego hip hop showcases with local MC’s and Producers.
SDLHH: What’s something you’d like to share with San Diego’s hip hop scene?
DJ Root: I just want to see the scene keep growing. Let’s all come together and keep the culture thriving! Community is unity.
SDLHH: Well, that segues nicely into the next question. One emphasis of SDLHH is to see a heightened level of unity in the San Diego Hip Hop community. Can you point to some other contributors to the culture who you see as comrades and who you also see as helping to progress the scene?
DJ Root: Odessa Kane, Cros1, Eranetik, DJ Artistic, Bar1ne, Cutlos Supreme, Reclaiming the Community, Tramlife, D. Dove, J Treel, Ric Scales, Samri, Skinny Veny, Inform, Kid Riz and so many more people to name. There’s so many people putting on for the culture in this city! I’m glad to call a lot of the people in this list friends, and love seeing the scene continue to grow as we work to make the culture better.
SDLHH: Finally, where should readers go to connect with you?
Peace, Love & Hip Hop,
#SDLovesHipHop exists to carry on a conversation about hip hop music and culture as a catalyst to effect change in individuals’ lives and communities. If any of the artists above, or this article has struck a chord in you, then please leave a comment.