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Featured in the Charleston City Paper
In a rap landscape that’s loaded with synths and drum pads, it’s easy to forget that hip-hop producers of yesteryear, like the legendary J Dilla, got the most mileage out of a sampler and an extensive jazz/soul record collection. Dilla’s career can be summed up in many ways (too short, cool as hell, Donuts), but local DJ known as D!Z, or Charles Dean, articulates it best: “Obviously, everyone has their own opinion, but the majority of hip-hop heads will tell you that he was the best hip-hop producer that ever did it.” Dilla’s producer credits are impressive, to say the least. He worked with A Tribe Called Quest, the Roots, the Pharcyde, and De La Soul, but one of his biggest contributions to music is his forward-thinking, experimental hip-hop opus Donuts. It may be cliche to say, but it’s impossible to describe the album accurately. It’s soulful, jarring, future-gazing, yet it never forgets its roots — and none of those descriptors do the record justice. “I wish it would influence [hip-hop] more,” says Dean. Similar to Dilla, D!Z spins a lot of funk and soul, typically at his monthly Royal American gig, titled Souled Out and on OHM Radio’s Sunday brunch show, the Soul Preservation Society. D!Z will be joined by DJ Mosaic, or Wes Pickell, who daylights as a graphic designer at his own creative marketing agency, Eyeland Interactive. “He likes to lend his skill to up-and-coming artists to help them with their presentation,” says Dean. “Really, his goal is to get people off their feet and get something going for them.” In addition to the Dilla songs, the show will feature a 30-minute open-mic segment for anyone who wants to rap over Dilla beats. —Heath Ellison