I first met DJ AM some years ago when HipHopSite.Com was first starting. This had to be around 1997 or so, when we were selling records via mailorder out of an extra bedroom. Most people we’re placing their orders online, but AM called my phone because he needed the records quickly for a gig that was happening the following day, and he needed it next-dayed. He introduced himself as DJ AM, and told me that he was a part of this group called Crazy Town. What was great was that he downplayed it tremendously. “It’s kinda… whatever,” he told me, “It’s just a gig”. While Crazy Town would find themselves as a one-hit-wonder with “Butterfly”, looking back, even at that point in his career, he knew that he would eventually eclipse them and become way bigger than they could ever hope to be.
I can’t say that I was as close to him as many of my peers, like Shecky Green, who helped him strike a lucrative deal with Pure; Kevin Scott, who found himself coordinating the music for AM’s scenes in Iron Man 2; Justin Hoffman, who would develop a close friendship with AM as his sponser in AA; or fellow Inhumanz Warren Peace & Dave Fogg, who would mash-up 50 Cent’s “In The Club” with Nine Inch Nails “Closer” for one of AM’s favorite remixes.
Ten years later, in 2007, I found myself at a cafe at Ceasar’s Palace speaking to AM about the prospect of becoming a partner in HipHopSite.Com. This was about the time that Warren and I thought to transform our retail end into a digital download site, and we met with Adam to pitch him the idea. In discussing the prospect of HHS Digital, I explained to him that we wanted to – for instance – get the digital distribution rights to Ron G’s mixtape catalog, which includes a lost Biggie and Raekwon collaboration called “Stop The Break”, released on some tape in 1995. We shared a rap nerd moment, as he knew exactly what I was talking about. Despite the proposed partnership never panning out, we found a mutual respect for one another that day, all based around this incredible twelve year old mixtape song, that seemingly nobody knew existed but the two of us. I meant to encode my cassette copy of the track and send it to him, but never got around to it. Regrets.
Consider this: DJ AM is The King Of The DJ’s. Sure, he didn’t invent the scratch, he didn’t pioneer 80′s hip-hop, and he wasn’t doing massive festivals overseas like Laidback Luke or somebody. Instead, what he did accomplish was reaching the pinnacle; the highest point that one could reach as an open format DJ, attaining true celebrity status. With him gone, the rest of this industry of working club deejays in the U.S. aspires to be him, or even to take his place. The term “celebrity DJ” is thrown around loosely for guys that suck, guys that never shared the stage with Nas, guys that can’t scratch their way out of a paper bag, guys that just started spinning in the 2000′s. Many look to take his crown, but there’s only one DJ AM. Long live the king.
Below is Skillz tribute track to Adam Goldstein.
LISTEN: Skillz – “Adam (DJ AM Tribute)” (MP3)
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