Photo credit for all DJ C-Reality’s photos: Gigi Bio
Origin: New Jersey
Current Location: New Jersey, New York Metropolitan Area
Top 10 Playlist
1. “Mood Swing” – Asheru feat. Talib Kweli
2. “The Format” – A.Z.
3. “Put Me On” – B.O.B. 4. “Love Is” – Common
5. “The Garden” – Jazzy Jeff feat. Big Daddy Kane
6. “Back On The Block” – Pete Rock and C.L. Smooth
7. “Two Can Win” – J Dilla 8. “Joe Metro” – Blue Scholars
9. “Soul Amazin (Steel Blazin’)” – Blu and Exile
10. “Here We Come” – Boot Camp Clik
With every set DJ C-Reality shows his commitment to what we’ll call the “authentic” side of Hip Hop music and the breakbeats that birthed it. He’s a Hip Hop purist and if you don’t come correct he’ll let you know about yourself in a heartbeat.
HipHopWired: What are the origins of your name?
DJ C-Reality: Twizz, the MC in the group I worked with for years gave me that name. He said I always had the ability to see the reality in any situation, and since my first name is Chris it just fit.
HipHopWired: Could you tell us a little about yourself, your background as a DJ.
DJ C-Reality: I have been DJing about 20 years now, early on in my career I tried to create a local Hip-Hop scene in New Jersey where I live, but people were always more interested in a more generic, top 40 type of event so I left that scene alone for a while. A few years later I hooked up with three of my childhood friends who also shared the same passion for the music that I did and we formed a group called, “Myndcrukz”. We signed a deal with AV8 records to release a single called “Remember The Face” that did really well in the underground scene.
We performed all over NYC with other popular underground acts at the time. Company Flow were friends of ours and we performed a lot with them, DJ Mr. Len and I go way back to DJing house parties together! AV8 records was not the right place for us since they were not used to marketing actual groups, they are more known for their party records and that was what they focused on.
We were totally lost in the shuffle at AV8, although we had critical acclaim and a decent fan base they just didn’t do enough on their end to help us get to the next level. The first time I ever went to WBAI’s Underground Railroad radio show was when we were promoting our single, that is how I made the connection with Jay Smooth and the reason why I am a part of the show now. I have also worked with several live bands, the latest of which was Sunny Daze, a seven-piece unit. We recorded two albums, a live album and a studio album. We have performed with many big name acts, and hope to record a new album soon.
HipHopWired: Who is the DJ made you want to be a DJ? What age were you when you got your first turntables?
DJ C-Reality: DJ Cheese and DJ Jazzy Jeff played an important part in me becoming a DJ, all the early DJs who have made this whole thing possible. Flash, Bambatta, Herc they are all so important to any DJ who plays now whether they acknowledge them or not.
Stretch Armstrong was also very influential on me as a DJ because I loved how he would just be himself on the air and his DJ style was similar to mine. He made me feel like the regular guy could also have a shot at this DJ thing. I was 16 when I got my first tables.
HipHopWired: What’s the first record you bought with your own money?
DJ C-Reality: I think it was a copy of Apache, the classic breakbeat.
HipHopWired: How and when do you decide what your playlist will be?
DJ C-Reality: I don’t create playlists, I think that style of playing is for people who play in more top 40 venues and need to put something together to make everyone in the place happy. Since I only play records I like and feel confident about, I just go with the flow of the evening and figure it out as I go along.
HipHopWired: What kind of gear do you use for your shows or is that a trade secret?
I was using vinyl until about 2 years ago. I am using Serato now. I use Technics 1200 turntables, although I do own other brands that I use more at home, I still prefer the old reliable 1200. I have had more mixers over the years than I can even remember, I have recently started to sell a few off, just because I am not really using them and I feel like they are going to waste. I pretty much use the Rane ttm56 now and the Pioneer 909 at my gigs because I like its built in effects.
HipHopWired: What do you think about DJs using Serato now?
There are many pros and cons to Serato. I think it is a great tool for DJ’s who have been playing for a while and have had the real vinyl, beat digging experience. However, I think it has taken its toll on the record industry and also on the musical knowledge, and selection skills of new DJ’s. I think we’re at the point where as a DJ you almost have to use it for many reasons I won’t get into.
I can tell that many new DJ’s have no idea who most of the artist’s they are playing even are, they just know titles. I also hate DJ’s who will play 25 records a minute just because the are easily accessible. I try to play and select music the same way I did with vinyl without having to bring the actual records out.
HipHopWired: What are 3 “nevers” for you in DJing?
DJ C-Reality: I never accept a gig I know I can’t do, something where people expect a more top 40 type of vibe. I never compromise anything I do because I know it will “work” for a particular audience, I have to make it work on my own terms because the music and the art form of DJing is too important to me.
I never mislead club owners and promoters when they show interest in hiring me just to get a gig. I am always very clear that I am more interested in creating an atmosphere and having a quality audience rather than just packing a place.
HipHopWired: Are DJs manipulative? Are the persons generally attracted to this job particularly sensitive to people’s moods and skilled at changing those moods?
DJ C-Reality: I think we can manipulate hearts and minds, and really have the ability to make people feel a certain way, which is very gratifying, I know as a person I am not manipulative at all, all the years I have been doing this and all the people I have worked I don’t think any of them would call me manipulative at all..
I think we are sensitive to people’s moods, but more than that I think most of us have a feeling of our own or a mood we may be in at that moment that we want to share with an audience. It’s almost like saying, “Hey, I feel this way tonight how about you? Can you relate to me?”
HipHopWired: Besides Sunnydaze what other projects are you currently working on?
I am one of the DJ’s on WBAI’s Underground Railroad, the longest running Hip Hop show in New York. Radio is something I really love doing and I hope to continue as long as I can. I am currently focusing on establishing a weekly event that is geared more towards a more mature, music-minded audience. I recently stopped doing some of the weekly gigs I was doing just because they were not gratifying to me, and I felt like the venues I was playing in were not supportive of what I was trying to establish.
I am hopeful that I will establish a great weekly party this coming year, so the music heads will have a place they can feel comfortable in and kind of call home.
HipHopWired: Would you like to offer any advice to anyone wanting to be a DJ or anyone that thinks they already are one?
DJ C-Reality: To people that want to become DJ’s I would say you have to make a decision as far as what they want to be able to do as a DJ. Do I want to become a human jukebox and DJ weddings and Christmas parties, or do I want to learn the most I can about my craft and really try and perfect my skills so I can take it to the next level.
To people that may think they are already DJ’s, I think they need to ask themselves, “How much am I really doing for this art form?, have I learned anything along the way, or am I happy with being able to make a little money and just consider DJing my side job. Don’t get it twisted, some of you guys may get all the glamorous gigs and get the big checks, but when you see real cats play you know what time it is! The audience may not care, but deep down inside you know!
HipHopWired: How can people contact you?
DJ C-Reality: I can be reached at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.