By Jeremy Essig
By Jason Robinson
By Hans Morgenstern
By Joseph Hess
By Peter Gilstrap
By Julia Burch
By Jeremy Essig
By Nathan Smith
Bettye LaVette, The Scene of the Crime: Someone sent me The Scene of the Crime, which I can recommend. I have a great idea — at least I like it — for an album of songs, and now I've finally heard the right voice to join us. We'll see if she might be interested.
— Jennifer Maerz
Miami turntablist whiz DJ I-Dee scratches out his favorite tunes of the year
Unlike possibly 90% of his neighbors, turntablist wunderkind Isaac DeLima did not, in fact, choose his South Beach digs for their proximity to the neighborhood's non-stop party. Rather DeLima, a.k.a. DJ I-Dee, initially landed in Miami almost three years ago from the D.C. suburbs with a plan to attend culinary school. But then his DJ battle career blew up in a big way: In 2005, at barely age eighteen, I-Dee would be crowned one of the youngest DMC competition national champions. He'd quickly rack up a string of further national and international prizes before retiring from the battle circuit just two years later.
Growing up in Fairfax, Virginia, DeLima still remembers when his bedroom DJ brother showed him his first battle video: the 1994 DMC World Championships (Roc Raida was the winner). He was hooked, but only ten years old. No matter; he learned his way around the decks in secret, standing on a box to reach the turntables.
DeLima attended his first regional DMC competition as a spectator in 2001, at age 14. Three years later, he won and qualified for the national DMC championship. In 2005, he won that (and was summarily kicked out of the 21-and-over club as soon as he grabbed his trophy). He would then go on to place third at the international competition in London. In 2006, he took the two biggest remaining U.S. titles on the battle circuit, at the Gong Supremacy and Scribble Jam championships. By age nineteen, he was done, ready to concentrate on his own original music. And he had moved to Miami Beach — for peace and quiet.
"I'm traveling a lot of times during the week, so I love to keep this place in Miami for a feeling of home," DeLima says. "This is my space to relax." It seems that his enviable precociousness has led him to find one of the city's few quiet, pedestrian-friendly pockets amid the chaos.
It's a suitable environment, then, for DeLima's constant tinkering. While battles are behind him, he still obsessively creates new routines, drawing unlike sources like old new-wave records into chopped, stuttering scratch-a-thons that explode into danceable breakdowns. Besides being regularly uploaded to his sprawling web presence (, www.youtube.com/djidee, ), the keepers find their way into his party-rocking sets, for which he's booked and flown worldwide. (He shares a booking agent with the likes of Jazzy Jeff, Q-Bert, and Kool DJ Red Alert.) In fact DeLima recently finished a nearly month-long series of residencies around Shanghai and other points east.
Beyond that, though, I-Dee's got big plans for his own musical productions, genre-and media-crossing creations. For example, industrial rock remixed on the decks in a truly humorous, faux-horror video? Sure, why not? So he's holed up in the lab, doggedly working to finish his first album of all original material, due out next year.
Still, as any worthy party selector, record collector, and post-modern music-maker, DeLima devours new music like Tic-Tacs. But as a true child of turntablism's cut-and-paste ethos, he's more into individual tracks than complete albums.
"Honestly, the last album I listened to in its entirety was Chromeo's Fancy Footwork," he says. "In the new digital age and as a DJ, I usually download the singles that I need, and if there's more than one song that grabs my attention, I'll download the whole album. That happens very rarely for me personally, though."
Here, then, are his favorite bangers from 2007.
Talib Kweli, "Hot Thing" (remix feat. Ne-Yo and Jean Grae). Jean Grae is about to be revealed to a lot of mainstream hip-hop fans and really bring back the female emcee. Nowadays, majority of them are in trouble with one thing or another. She's been around for quite sometime, however, be sure to look out for her major debut on Kweli's label, Blacksmith.Justice, "D.A.N.C.E." (Benny Blanco remix feat. Mos Def and Spank Rock.Definitely one of the best songs of the 2007 for me. The remix, though, features the mighty Mos Def, B-More/Philly booty-mover Spank Rock, and production from 19-year-old Benny Blanco. Cop the Bangers & Cash EP from Benny and Spank while you're at it.RJD2, "You Never Had It So Good." RJD2 goes a different route this time around with his latest album, The Third Hand, by singing on a majority of his tracks rather than strictly producing. Reason I liked this song is because I believe he got a sample off Super Mario RPG for SNES, it had me thinking back to '95/'96.DJ I-Dee, "Eclectic Dreams" feat. Rites of Ash. The first single off my upcoming debut album on Adiar Cor Records. It features Rites of Ash, an industrial rock band from my hometown of Washington, D.C. Be sure to check the music video for it on YouTube.com as well as my album coming in 2008.Tay Zonday, "Chocolate Rain." Best song of the year. Hypnotizing ... 'nuff said.Madlib, "Movie Finale." This is one of those songs that I'll play over and over during a long drive. Very soothing and has a slight Bollywood feel to it. Check Madlib's Beat Konducta Vol. 3-4: In India on Stones Throw.