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Kenny Dope

Last Night a DJ Saved My Life

New Yorkís DJ Kenny Dope, a three-time Grammy nominee, is one of those prolific artists that never seem to stop leaving a mark on music. Bringing back old-school beats and pushing forth new sounds, ranging from house to Latin to funk, he is forever searching for that next beat to reinvent, remix, or rediscover. Catch him at Ritmos Sin Fronteras at SOM on August 21st.

SF Station (SFS): When did you decide that music was something you wanted to do for the rest of your life?

Kenny Dope (KD): In 1979, when I saw two brothers that had a setup and they would play in their front yard in Brooklyn. I was 9. And also when I bought my first record, Super Rhymes by Jimmy Spicer.

SFS: What do you attribute this passion to?

KD: Iíve listened to music that my dad and uncles played growing up. Music was around me from birth; I don't remember a time in my life when I wasn't exposed to music. I just always loved music of all types. Anything that has soul or a funky flavor to it, I'm drawn to. Later on, I got into record collecting and I have built up an extensive musical library. Itís a great collection.

SFS: How did you get the moniker "DopeĒ?

KD: Todd Terry gave me that name. It was something I used to say when I liked something so it stuck with me. When he started introducing me as Kenny Dope, I said, "What are you doin' B?" (laughs). And he said "Youíre Kenny Dope!"

SFS: Do you think its meaning has evolved over your career?

KD: It's been something I've had to live up to. I know Iím good at what I do but now. It's 20 years later and it's time to reinvent and take it to the next level and reintroduce myself to the younger generation. [Itís time to] teach them about all this great music ó if theyíre willing to listen.

SFS: With more and more DJs using computers in their sets, where do you see the evolution of DJing with actual physical records going? Is it a good or bad impact?

KD: Good or Bad? Itís a toss up. It's crazy because me, DJ Scratch, and DJ Spinna have been posting records on Twitter we have #45fridays and #12inch Tuesday and a lot of DJ's are mad that they sold their collection.

I'm going to be honest, though. As a traveling DJ it's hard to bring your records out on the road, so it's much easier to DJ with Serato, but when you are into so many styles, it get's a little crazy because Iím not a set DJ. I feed off the crowd, and when you got 20,000 titles in front of you, I get lost! (laughs)

But back to the question, I still press records so there is a market for it still. It's not as big as before but it's there in the soul, funk, and rock scenes, as well. Indie bands press records and we have some house producers that don't do upload-only press records, so records will still be here for a while.

SFS: What's important to you when using a sample?

KD: I love samples but it has to be done right. Iíve been really checking out this jackin' (house) vibe and I like the fact that they are using samples. It just shows a producerís mindset, like how they could chop up something and make it brand new.

SFS: Whatís looking golden for you this year?

KD: I'm looking forward to producing Anthony Hamilton, and Iíve already recorded four new songs for the next Raheem Devaughn album. I produced 11 tracks on his last album The Love and War Masterpiece.

SFS: Anything you're looking forward to in San Francisco?

KD: I havenít played San Francisco in a minute so I am totally looking forward to playing at Ritmos Sin Fronteras and get out there with the fans. Last time I was there it was a great gig; looking forward to playing some different styles and reconnecting with San Francisco.

Visit Kenny Dope online at