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Thursday, December 5, 2013

African Alert Celebrates Its 25th Anniversary and the Golden Era of Hip-Hop This Saturday

Posted By on Thu, Dec 5, 2013 at 8:02 AM

G. Wiz (center) with rapper Paris and DJ Mike at the Double Helix Studio in 1991. - COURTESY OF G. WIZ
  • Courtesy of G. Wiz
  • G. Wiz (center) with rapper Paris and DJ Mike at the Double Helix Studio in 1991.

A quarter century ago, a show called African Alert invaded the airwaves at St. Louis' community radio station, KDHX (88.1 FM), exposing listeners to the golden era of hip-hop as it trickled throughout the country in steadily increasing streams. Ronald Butts, a.k.a. DJ G. Wiz, acted as a key player behind the mixing board, undoubtedly inspiring future generations of St. Louis DJs as well as hip-hop fans and historians. He throws a party to celebrate the show's 25th anniversary and the positively tinged music of its time at 2720 Cherokee (2720 Cherokee Street; 314-276-2700) this Saturday, December 7.

See also: Old School: Unearthed in a cluttered storeroom, a pair of vintage St. Louis hip-hop recordings help tell the history of rap

Inspired by his neighbor, Sylvester the Cat, G. Wiz got his start DJing for local roller rinks at the age of nineteen. Now, 35 years later, he continues to impart hip-hop knowledge and culture to this day as a documentary filmmaker and DJ on Old School 95.5 FM -- Friday nights from 10 p.m. to midnight. He also anchors an event called Turntable Orchestra at Vintage Vinyl, a live in-store collaboration with DJ Alejan, Nappy DJ Needles and Fly D-Ex.

We caught up with G. Wiz to learn more about the history of African Alert, the celebration itself and his current projects, including a documentary about the history of St. Louis hip-hop from '79 to '95.

A recent photo of G. Wiz at Vintage Vinyl. - COURTESY OF G. WIZ
  • Courtesy of G. Wiz
  • A recent photo of G. Wiz at Vintage Vinyl.

RFT Music: It's been 25 years since the show African Alert arrived on the airwaves on KDHX, bringing underground hip-hop to listeners in St. Louis. How did you get your start there, and how has has hip-hop evolved since then?

G. Wiz: Russ Giraud and John Anderson were doing the show, and they recruited me in 1988 as the DJ. They played music, but I was a mixer. Shortly after that, John Anderson stepped out and it was me and Russ. Russ stepped out in I think '92, '93 and that's when I changed the name of the show to Street Vibe. African Alert was the grandfather -- all those hip-hop shows on 88.1 all came from African Alert.

I really don't get into too much hip-hop today. I still love hip-hop, but I love the old-school hip-hop from 1999 and below. That's normally what I'm playing and what I'm DJing. That's what I love. As far as what's going on today, it doesn't have a feeling for me. It's not for me. It's a totally different generation, so I don't feel what they feel. It's what they do -- it's their thing. We had our period, our time, and I'm going to stick with that.

Continue to page two for more of our interview.

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