Interview: DJ Booman
by Couch Sessions
DJ Booman – James Revenge
Who is DJ Booman? If you don’t know the name you have most certainly heard tracks like “Watch Out for the Big Girl,” and “Pick ‘em” up” at any party up and down the East Coast. Booman has been in B-more club scene from the jump in the early 90s. He’s parlayed his career into a DJ gig at the city’s legendary 92Q and a successful hip-hop beatmaker, helming the boards for B-more’s breakout star Mullyman.
Senari: For those who may not know who you are, tell me a little about yourself. Where are you from? What do you do?
Booman: DJ Booman, from Baltimore City, born and raised. I’m a DJ, producer, lifestyle marketing consultant….cool guy… haha
Senari: Well I… and most of the club world… know you as a Baltimore Club legend. How did you get started DJing and producing?
Booman: I would say at this present time in my life most folks would know me more for producing because I am a studio rat. But, I’ve been DJing since I was 11 years old so I would say DJing is the launching point of all my talents. I come from a family of musicians and my dad was a member of the singing group the Mondells… so I’ve been around studios and performers my whole life
Senari: That’s awesome. What pushed you towards DJing rather than another part of the biz?
Booman: I was at a party with my older cousin and she had these three dudes DJing… I was so amazed at what they were doing. That [Christmas] I asked my parents to buy me some turntables. I was already deep into hip hop… what little we could get on the radio. I was like any other kid back then – I used to pop lock, do graffiti, and rap and beat box – but DJing was the element of hip hop that grabbed me the most.
Senari: Where in Baltimore were you? Westport?
Booman: My whole family is from Westport, Cherry Hill area but my parents moved to the Northeast of town when I was young… so I came up on the Northeast side of town. Around the Morgan State area.
Senari: So when you were coming up, DJing as a teenager, what was the music scene in Baltimore like? Who were you going out to see?
Booman: I came up under DJ Spen, Jerome Hicks, Mark Henry, Reggie Reg, Frank Ski, The Basement Boys, Michael Joyner, DJ Dave, Scottie B, Sean Marshall, Slim bird. Man, too many dudes to name! The scene was great! There were a million clubs and always something to do. We were actually too young to be in some of these clubs but we bought records from these DJs in the record stores so we had good connects!
Senari: So you say those are the dudes you were coming up under – when do you think you really broke into your own? What track did it?
Booman: Well KW Griff, Jimmy Jones and I did tracks together on primitive equipment in the early days…. but the tracks that first got me attention was “What N*gga What” and “Eastside Sh*t” on Ronald Mills label… and “The Ha Dance”. I remember doing “The Ha Dance” and taking it to Griff on cassette to play in the tennis shoe store where he worked, Charlie Rudos. He loved it and I passed it along to Shawn Caesar. [He] was a DJ friend of mine that worked in a record store and started a record label with Scottie B and Karizma. The label was Unruly and they pressed the vinyl! When that track hit, I was in the game. I did tracks with a lot of other labels but Unruly became family and we later went on a three-year terror of club music releases.
Senari: Remember when there were cassettes?
Booman: I know! I still have a box, haha
Senari: How do you feel about the response club is getting right now? It’s exciting!
Booman: The response is incredible! I watched this music go from something that was strictly local, to being booked in places like Helsinki and having major players in the music industry bid on me signing for production.
Senari: I know that some people have questioned the “integrity” of newer club production. I love it… but, you know… some people are molding it for the mainstream, Karizma set the precedent long ago with going funky-house on us…. and there’s obviously the huge hipster following now. How do you feel about it? Has it affected your production at all?
Booman: The way club is evolving is great when it is good! We all wanted to take it in the song format direction years ago but some folks weren’t ready for it back then. My thing is if it bangs, I love it. Club is not the only genre that has suffered from microwave producers so the problem is with all music. I have evolved my production to change with the times while keeping the grittiness of the original style. The only way to remain relevant is to adapt so I have no problem with change as long as it’s good. We have a ton of releases coming from Bmoreoriginal this year…stay tuned!
Senari: Yeah, I grew up on your club… I know exactly what you’re saying. Someone was trying to tell me that the “grittiness” of club music promotes negativity and a violent lifestyle. Do you think there’s a dissonance between what club music implies and what actually is?
Booman: Club music definitely reflects the aggressiveness of living in this city. Club music, in many ways, was created the same way hip hop music was. The conditions of this city were… and still are… bad in the inner city… so it’s a way of escape. When Rod Lee says “Dance my pain away” that shit is real! For that five or six hours that these kids are at Paradox or Choices sweating their brains out dancing and having fun, that’s five or six hours of aggression the citizens of Baltimore don’t have to encounter. Things are bad in the inner city here… so club reflects that, but at the same time it can be therapeutic.
Senari: Yeah definitely.
Booman: People who don’t like it… I say buy the clean versions.
Senari: Speaking of, what are some of the things you’re working on? Any secrets you want to tell me?
Booman: I’m working on Mullyman’s album – he is close to a major deal. Jimmy Jones’s album, artists on Bmoreoriginal Records roster, my own album later this year, various remixes! And I can’t spill the beans yet, but when the negotiating is done I’ll be sure to tell you!!
Senari: Haha! Ok lastly, will you produce my first single?
Booman: Absolutely! I’m ready when you are!!!
Senari: Ok but for real – where can people go to find more about you and get more music of yours?
Booman: I always tell people everything /djbooman. My brand is “djbooman” so hit me on Twitter, MySpace, Facebook, Gmail, YouTube. You can purchase my music and download free mixes at www.bmoreoriginal.com