We’re baaaack! This time, with a new hip-hop celeb rolling in from The Big Apple, DJ A. Vee from Brooklyn, NY. Shanghaiist caught up with this month’s BonBon International Resident DJ (teaming up with this month’s Bonbon International Resident MC, Punchline) out and about town. Check out DJ A. Vee’s views on fresh sneakers, the YanAn Expressway and wire taps. This should be good.
Why the name A. Vee, A. Vee?
Well it’s pretty simple. Those are the initials to my government name that I sort of spelled out in that fashion for this job I had at a club handing out event flyers. That was around the time I was contemplating the idea of giving that Deejay thing a try.
How much longer will you perform in Shanghai?
I was commissioned to spin at the club in Shanghai for the month of September. Myself & my partner Punchline are scheduled to wrap-up our stay here on the 8th of October.
When you were lil’ A. Vee in kindergarten, and the teacher asked the class “What do you want to be when you grow up”, did you say, “a Club Hip-Hop DJ?”
Wow, back then I actually wanted to be a veterinarian (believe it or not). Later in life I went to college for Architectural and Advertising Design. I currently still do freelance graphics on my downtime for many record labels back home.
Who taught you how to scratch?
I learned how to scratch the old fashion way I guess. Before the DVD’s we use to listen to the pioneers of that time and basically broke the patterns they did by ear. Figuring out how another DJ did a certain pattern gave you a better understanding of the mechanics of the art which intern enabled you to develop your style as a result. I remember how we use to call each other on the phone and do a pattern over the phone to show your boy the new cut you came up with. I was a heavy listener of DJ Scratch from EPMD, DJ Clark Kent, DJ Richie Rich of 3rd Bass, and of course DJ Jazzy Jeff. In my early years as a battle dj, I formulated friendships with folks, which I am proud to say are major players in the DJ hustle now. (Q-Bert, Spinbad, Roc Raida, Rob Swift, Total Eclipse, DJ Dummy, LS-One, DJ 3D, JS-One, A-Trak,DJ Daddy Dog, Babu, Revolution…this list can literally go on for pages, so I’ll cut it there)
How did you link up with Punchline?
Aside from spinning in a lot of nightclubs, I also DJ for a lot of established rappers in the music industry. I regularly DJ for the legendary Masta Ace of the I.N.C crew. Back in 2001, I took part in a European tour with Masta Ace who brought along the Lyricist Lounge duo Punchline & Wordsworth for this run. During that time we found a lot of common ground in our musical taste and the rest is history. To this day, we all, including Stricklin from Milwaukee, regularly rock stages across the globe on constant basis.
Let’s bring it back to the Shanghai state of mind. When you walk down Nanjing Xi Lu, what are most people’s reactions?
Well aside from the panhandlers & the watch vendors, most folks do a double take on us when we walk the streets. I’ve found that folks in Shanghai are not ashamed to stare at a brother. When I first started tour the world, it used to get to me, but I’ve gotten used to it for the most part.
Man, we know… They always stare at the brothers… What is this??? One that note, name one thing you love and one thing you hate about this city.
I actually love some of the architecture of this city, along with Chinese characters are used in the signage of the different establishments. Yeah, I’m still that art geek art heart basically. I absolutely hate the lack of regard for germs for the most part. Folks coughing without covering up! Yes I am a germ-a-phobe!!!!
Which places do you check out in Shanghai?
Aside from the constant search for the Americanized restaurants, my hustle no matter what part of the world I’m in is the SNEAKERS spots. Before y’all start generalizing a brother, I am openly professing to anyone in the sneaker hustle, that yes I am not a joke with it. I have joint you will never see on any webpages…eBay auctions. I’ve been at this way before it became the fashionable cliché thang to do on the road. So with that being said…show me what YOU got people! (If that sounded personal, sorry…)
Name your top three favorite dj’s:
DJ Jazzy Jeff, DJ Riz, DJ Spinbad, & DJ Spin One… I gotta get four on that one, Morgan.
No biggie, man. We’re not going to contest a sneaker maniac.
Hehe… Listening & watching these cats are like going to school. Although they’re my lifelong personal friends, I still hold them up as some of my favorite DJ’s of all time.
Getting deeper on this one, what does “turntablism” mean to you?
In this day & age of DJ’s poppin’ up left & right, the lines have been blurred in a sense regarding the skill level of a lot of DJ’s in the industry. Folks have a tendency to place a DJ with a good selection of songs in the same category with a DJ executes that same song selection in a creative & unique fashion. The art of turntablism existed inside of me way before the term was conceived. In the past, it wasn’t about just playing a given song, it was added your own twist to it to make it more interesting to the listeners. In the proper setting of course, this can be a beautiful thang. However, in a club environment, when the focus is to play the formulaic hits, you’ll find the general public has little or no patience for some aspects of the DJ’s turntablist displays. Which is very sad, but in the company of those who appreciate it at respect it, it’s a beautiful thang!!
Let’s face it, you are a dope DJ, and based on what we saw last Thursday, the world is yours… which countries would you like to hit up next?
When I first realized that the art Djing could evolve into me actually getting to go to different places on this planet, I made a little wish list of places I would love to see even if it were for one day. I’ve managed to go to two of the top three places I had listed. South Africa & Australia… I would love my next trip to be a trip to Japan. I’ve got love for all the countries I’ve been to, but those three locations are places that I’ve always wanted to touch.
Explain to the people what Shanghai’s BQE (Brooklyn-Queens Expressway) is.
Well back home in Brooklyn, New York (BROOKLYN, STAND UP!), there’s an expressway, which travels from the borough of Brooklyn to Queens. In that route, the road way is structured the same exact way that YanAn Road is designed. Basically, it gives you the option to commute locally on the ground level, while giving you an express option up top. That’s my definition of the Shanghai BQE…Yeah it’s corny…OK
Well, well, well… Looks like Shanghai’s a lot like home. Speaking of home, do you know the latest news on GOP Attorney General Jeanine Pirro?
Oh, you don’t know?
No, man. I’ve been in China too long.
Ok. Well, she basically tapped her husband’s phone. He was messing with some other chick in a yacht. She worked with the cops and everything.
Damn. That’s f*cked up.
Dude, we know… Jay-Z in Shanghai, any thoughts?
I think Jay-Z in Shanghai has a lot of good attached to it. Myself being part of the introductory packaging of Hip Hop being delivered to Shanghai, I’ve encountered a lot inexperienced folks at the wheels of this scene. Hopefully Jay coming through will force the folks in the artist booking game to take better care of some the acts that take the time out to come through to Shanghai.
Have you ever been confused with other celebrities in your life?
Yeah, unfortunately never anyone I was proud to be mistaken for…no I’m not gonna mention them…sorry
Thank you, A. Vee, for doing this interview with us. Shanghai is definitely feeling your Thursday evenings. You are just in time for those crazy college students “learning about China.”