Two time DMC Champion DJ Abilities rocks the decks with hip-hop producer and sometimes rapper Jel this Sunday at Milk Bar. He is also best known for his work with the late great Eyedea as Eyedea and Abilities. As part of Rhymesayers Entertainment, his work includes producing four full-length albums and playing hundreds of shows, whether they be solo or collaborating with an emcee. We catch up with Abilities during a quick break on his tour with Jel.
How is your tour with Jel going?
It’s going good. We’re having a lot of fun.
How did you two initially link up?
We’ve known each other for 10 plus years and have free-styled together multiple times over that time with the response being great. We talked about doing something seriously because of that and now it finally has happened.
You’ve said earlier this year that you’re kind of “starting over on multiple levels.” What does that mean for your music?
The majority of my career has been in cooperation with a vocalist, now it’s not, so I’m starting over musically and career wise in a sense.
Since you’ve been a DMC champion, do you think battles have changed much today with the evolution of electronic music being integrated into the mainstream? Do you still think it has the same popularity as it had 10 years ago?
Not so much. It’s still the same in essence. Impress people with two turntables and a mixer. I think the “golden era” was ‘90s, early 2000. But that doesn’t mean the people competing right now still aren’t killing it.
How has being a battle DJ influenced your ability to improv during a live set?
I think going through the battle scene makes you more confident and if you are more confident you will have better shows.
What advice can you give to DJs about interacting with an emcee onstage, as you did the the late Eyedea?
Cooperate for a common goal.
NOW! That’s What I Call Fuck Off is such a great mixtape. Can you share with us the inspiration behind the mix NOW! That’s What I Call Fuck Off?
I wanted to make something for people who want to dance and people who don’t. Something that was upbeat but creative and clever.
How did you go about picking the tracks in the mixtape?
I just played songs I like in an order that worked. It’s a lot of trial and error.
What are you working on this year? Can we expect any more solo mixtapes or albums?
Next up is a new mix, continuing with the now concept, and a full-length album with Jel.
What’s currently on your playlist? Which artists are you digging these days?
New Dark Time Sunshine, and I think Zavala is the next producer to blow up.
In the spirit of the Olympics, which sport do you think you would excel at as a DJ?
Maybe table tennis, fast hands?
The show takes place 10pm Sunday August 12th at Milk Bar. The show costs $8, and will feature DJs Void Pedal, Odd Nosdam, and DJ Stef.