Dj Fu Man Chu (Minneapolis)
Published in The Pulse of The Twin Cities
by Kandis Knight
Last weekend, a friend and mentor, I Self Devine, asked me to come down to The Hideaway Studio to preview the mix down of his new album (to be released April 2005). While enjoying top-notch ear candy, I was able to dialogue with I Self’s music man, DJ Fu Man Chu. Ant (Rhymesayers super producer) was there also (The Hideaway is like Big Ant’s second home).
Ant: Hi, shout out to Anthony!(everyone laughs)
Kandis: So Fu Man, who were your mentors, as far as DJ-ing is concerned?
Fu Man Chu: DST, Herbie Hancock. From there I was like I want to be a fucking DJ, fuck that. I want to know what the hell he is doing. I want to know what is making that sound and how he is doing it. So I started scratching on this old KC and The Sunshine Band record. My cousin came in and he taught me how to count bars and listen to the kick and I started doing that. Then I learned how to mix. Then I started listening to DJs like Disco T and Stage One back in the early days. Ever since.
Kandis: When did you get your first set of turntables?
Fu Man Chu: I got my first set of turntables in 1991. They weren’t Techs though, they were Geminis. Then I upgraded to two Tech 12s and I got the same pair to this day.Kandis: If you had $5,000 what would you buy right now?Fu Man Chu: A G4 (computer), and a couple compressors. That is about it.
Kandis: There are tons of local DJs now. How do you rate Twin Cities local DJs?
Fu Man Chu: Arg! Man, to be honest with you, there are a lot of DJs out there now who are garbage. I mean they’re not grinding and they don’t care. There are a lot of DJs that have been around for a long time and they don’t even give a fuck anymore. They’re just chillin’. They don’t have a work ethic and they aren’t trying any marketing schemes.
Kandis: Who are some of your personal favorites?
Fu Man Chu: Abilities, Nikoless, Stage One, Xcaliber, Jimmy Two Times, Reese. But overall, DJs in Minnesota are not grinding. Minneapolis is not a good city for DJs either, because the club scene is not that strong. It’s too shifty. There’s not a constant night. Minnesota doesn’t have enough night clubs nor enough people who want to support music. The younger kids, 18 and up like a different type of Hip-Hop. They want to hear crunk music, southern music you know, Lil’ John and Ying Yang Twins. That’s cool, they want to hear what’s playing on the radio. There’s nothing wrong with that. When I’m DJing, I want to see a reaction, DJs are supposed to control emotions. What if someone wants to hear some old Al Green or Guy but the DJ is only playing what is hot on the radio? Mix some of your own style into it. Play stuff that is ground breaking.
Kandis: As far as the different techniques, do you see any new things going on as far as the evolution of the art form?
Fu Man Chu: You got Abilities with the pedals and the guitar, wild sounds. People are making the turntables more of an instrument. DJs don’t need a rapper anymore, they can do everything with turntables now, they can have a hook, they can have bars and play beats at the same time. DJs are on some revolt turntablism. I’m a turntablist but I’m also a Hip-Hop DJ. I cross the barrier because I know the techniques but I like the mixing part and I like breaks, I like digging but I also like DJing for an emcee. The whole point is the DJ was first. The rapper came later on. When the DJ was spinning the rapper was not rapping in the middle of songs, the rapper only rapped over the breaks and when the breaks came on, and that is when the break-dancers would break and the rapper would rap. You hear DJs on the mix tapes now screaming over the song. DJ Clue all over the song.
Kandis: How did you and I Self hook up?
Fu Man Chu: He asked me what my role would be in all of this and I said I want to be the music man. I want to be involved in the show, you’re going to see me during the choruses, you’re going to see me scratching, you’re going to see me change the beat, you might even see me making a beat on stage. I’m going to be all of that, I’m not just the guy up there playing records. Some guys only know how to scratch and cut. If that’s the case, then you’re not learning mixing and sound. This is about music, it’s not just about cutting because you can cut and scratch over the beat but if it’s not rhythmic, who’s going to feel it? That’s what I am on—rhythmic scratching, so people can feel it.