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Conversations with Calvin Booker | @djcboogie

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Calvin Booker, known as DJ C-Boogie, is a well-rounded individual who has traveled all over Europe as a professional dancer and DJ. He is now one of the current resident DJs for the Brooklyn venue, Now & Then NYC. I speak with the Brooklynite about his history in dancing, the DJ culture, and much more.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Well, my name is Calvin Booker, otherwise known as DJ C-Boogie. I’m a native of Brooklyn, born and raised. I’ve been a dancer professionally. I began dancing at 4. I started becoming a professional at 7, you know, like kind of when you get your first paycheck, even if professional, it pays you to do the thing. So at 7, I got my first stipend from this production called Harlem Nutcracker. Working with a Seattle dance company called Spectrum Dance. The choreographer was named Donald Byrd by one of our first productions and as you know, he did the Harlem Nutcracker featuring the music of Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn. He did like a whole like arrangement of the Nutcracker Suite, so he choreographed to that music. So I was one of the kids in the party scene, cause, you know, in the White Nutcracker. Clara’s a kid, in the black Nutcracker, Clara is an adult. She has grandchildren and the whole family come over to the house for Christmas dinner that’s like, you know, Christmas-ism. Anyway. (laughs) I’m also a tap dancer that wasn’t even like a tap dance project. I grew up tap dancing. My dance teacher, his name is Tracy Mann, we’ve formed a dance group called The Young Hoofers featured my friends and me, you know, the homies that I grew up and hung out with.

I want you to get a little bit about The Young Hoofers. How did that come about?

Well, these are my friends that I was hanging out with on an almost daily basis. It features some of my friends: school friends my dad’s school friends, so, it’s a little different. With that group, my school friends was able to become my dance school friends and we all just formed a group and we dug tap and use tap to help us see some places and things, so it was like an outlet. My teacher taught at Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Dance Theater in Bed Stuy. So I kinda started under Marie Brooks, a legendary choreographer, and this energy, and from there, we were rehearsing in this studio called Mahogany which is like a jazz dude who’s like a club that was connected to Restoration. Of course, it’s not there, anymore.

What got you into DJing?

Well, music, first and foremost, you know what I mean? I grew up loving music. My dad collected a lot of music, so I got to play in his music, and learn and grow. I didn’t know how these things are going to impact me all these years later, but I just had a handle on a lot of good music. You know, the Crusaders, George Benson, Mozart, Tchaikovsky, so I had a very well-rounded upbringing musically, and my uncle is Randy Muller for Brass Construction. He’s dope, too. Musically, he used to pick me up and shit and used to drive to Wendy’s. He used to be hooked on Wendy’s like an addiction, and in between the drive from my crib to Wendy’s, he would play whatever was working on and ask for my, 7-year-old opinion about things, so I was kind of like my young a&r-ism. I got to develop my opinion about what was dope or not. Dope is still like, the gauge. (laughs)

You danced with a lot of tap masters like Gregory Hines. I’m still in shock and awe over that.

Yeah, Gregory Hines and I at Town Hall together. My group and Gregory. And what was dope was that our youngest member was like, seven at the time. He was short for his age, so we need to be shorter. So it’s even more like a cute factor. So he and Greg kinda had like a moment cause Greg loved kids, so he dug us all, but he was the baby.

Gregory Hines, Savion Glover, Sandman Simms, Pegleg Bates and Jimmy Slide…

Just trying to be young in New York City. They had a lot of stuff going on. The tap community was a lot more prevalent at that time, so I’m just blessed to have been a part of it.

Do you ever think that the culture has changed in New York?

Yeah, that’s probably why I spoke so much both so much because I kinda have to cope.

I highly feel that the culture has changed so much in New York, We had different genres, like in New York, like, whatever was your thing. There was someplace that you can go to that facilitated.

Yeah, I agree.

Yeah. And I feel like now, those places are not here.

And we’re just left to deal with what they’re trying to feed us. But that’s why the blessing is that what I’m trying to do it Now & Then, whatever night they give me Monday, Tuesday, whatever.

Wow, what I feel like with Now & Then, I believe that their goal is to to preserve the culture that was back then. Also, to help move it forward and be open to new things. And I guess why it’s called Now and Then.

(laughs) Yeah, we need the understanding of then, now.

Was there anybody that you would have loved to have partnered up with?

Jimmy Slide is the motherfucker. He’s just cool.

I could see you doing something with the Nicholas Brothers.

Oh. Notice that not a whole lot of people really trying to do that shit. That’s why these motherfuckers got double hip replacements.

Oh, wow. Really?

Yeah, and it’s not like we don’t love the form. If you get a good split out of your gig, and your body can still do that, you’re cool, but nobody should really have to go through a double hip replacement in their life. love top. I love the art. You know, I love what it does to people and I love it when people get from it. I actually had a gig where I had to do a bunch of jumps because I like the Nicholas Brothers and there’s a lot of fucking jump splits, so that was kind of like a deal-breaker. I didn’t really do all that. I mean, I wasn’t gonna bang my body up for this gig cuz it would have been six months of that, you would have seen me six months later, looking very different. I wouldn’t have been walking, I wouldn’t have been dancing like I am. Yeah, that’s a level of freedom that, you know, that comes with. So I’m good, with where I’m at.

So, so now is back to the, um, you know, like now and then preserving the culture?

Oh, yeah. You know, we’re calling before we walk, but eventually, you know, we’ve had, we’ve already had like a comedy show here, you’ve already had, like, a couple of different live events. I think we finally have like, trivia night, you can kind of have like, fashion shows, fundraisers…those are going to be about a possibility for fun. The point is that it’s gonna lend itself to people that we know: some movers and shakers. You can really come in and do some stuff and more importantly, it’s more about creating the hub.

It’s really helpful for the culture, itself.

Like pre-social media. We got to go back to like real life back to where phones weren’t necessary. You come to the club, and you can and actually socialize.

Just having been at the club, you meet somebody who sees you who thinks you’re dope for some project, you need to go talk to such and such or you need to go see such and such about a horse. (laughs) New York City shit like that. It happens, but it happens more efficiently, now, with social media, it needs to come back to a more organic flow. You can see and meet people, like, if you like, I’m looking at you in your eyes and talk to people, you can connect, you can forge different kinds of relations, honest relations beyond Facebook.

You, being a dancer, how important is dance in a generation that ignores the art?

Well, based on my experiential living, I’ve been missing since I was 4 years old. So, I’ve grown with that, as a part of just the way I move through the world and dancing…movement is medicine, you understand? Movement facilitates, like freedom. If you move enough, you release certain blocks in your body, like, literally, you get free from moving. So, moving, in general, is super important. It’s very important, you know, it’s very important to be able to allow yourself to be open to the music and to what’s going on musically. Allow yourself to connect to a lot of music to kinda have its way with you, you know what I mean? So that it can heal because that’s ideally what it does when you play the right stuff. You know, there’s healing vibrations, just using frequencies. Things that you can gain from a good set, a good sound system, o that’s new dances like numero uno. I mean, you know, even after everything I’ve been through, I appreciate being able to come back in like dance and that’s generally how I gauge my vitality. “Can I dance?” “Can I not dance?” You know? “Damn, I can’t, I’m fucked up. I can’t even fucking dance,” you know, or I could do what I can do and move through it to get to that level of optimal functionality.

Do you feel that the art of DJ is lost?

Well, considering we’re in a time where everybody can just access equipment, I feel like it’s become very mechanical. You know what I mean? I think that’s a good way to put that. A lot of people aren’t taking time to create like to learn their music enough to help it like relate to each other. I’ve been listening to music long enough to understand how they can relate, how you use certain parts of a track musically over the next track. It’s like, it’s like a band: everybody’s playing together. All of your music has a relation to each other. That’s the idea. I mean, going back to Larry. When I was a kid, my teacher put me on to Larry Levan, and how he was on WBLS in New York, and as I got acquainted with Larry, I started reading, like the back of the Paradise Garage and it talks about Larry’s approach. How he used the music to tell his own stories and shit. And if you listen to close enough, you will understand what he was at emotionally, if he was having a fight, you would know that because of the songs he would play, it will tell the story. So I feel like that part of it is something that we all as DJs are trying to, like reach for. But we’re such in an ADD society like nobody is really even like keying into how deep you might actually really be. So you have to kind of find a balance between being deep and being dumb.

Everything is instant. You can play something, and then some people might get easily distracted from it.

As a DJ you got to be able to pull them back in. The next thing you play has to be like that thing.

Who’s gonna playlist right now?

I mean, I have staples that can do no wrong, that I check to over the years. Do any of the staples. Osunlade is top of the top. Karizma has made his way in there. Natasha Diggs is up there because she does all of that. She plays everything and she’s cute. Ian Friday, Boddhi Satva, Moodymann…Piranhahead is actually a DJ. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard him play. He has a lot of tracks. I’ve heard of some of his music but I never got the honor of hearing him play.

Do you feel that the culture is dealing with the whole COVID situation?

Well, me being I don’t know what’s going on in the rest of America, you’ll have in my ear to the ground in Brooklyn. The culture is alive and thriving. The culture is safe, man. We go out, we dance anywhere. We can get it in little sidewalk parties. So we’re good. This curbside thing is permanent. So it’s definitely something that we got to get used to.

Yeah, like what’s next for you?

I’m looking forward to being a solid resident at Now & Then, which in turn would allow me to invite my friends to express themselves. A lot of people are having to cope with that play at home business and that doesn’t do it for everybody. It doesn’t do it for me. So I’m blessed to have a live installation, but don’t do that system.

Do you feel that the whole playing at home thing is oversaturated?

Yeah. I mean, back when you had to stay in your house, like, okay, but now there’s like, I mean, people will do it before, but people don’t have to stay in the house.

I just felt like this is like, you know, like, people. People who wouldn’t even dare to go on live are now going on live with Venmos. There are people who have lost their jobs, that that’s my thing. There are people who have lost their jobs. That extra unemployment is cut off. People need to pay their bills and rent, and you here on Facebook Live, asking for cashapp. PayPal. Like who is you? If you are DJing and you ain’t producing, you’re screwed. But, if you are producing, man…your residuals? You’ll be just fine.

Yeah, and that’s my next thing too. I plan to start producing and make some music and have some dope collaboration, have some features. I have some like a dope horn player, friends and keyboard player friends and, just musician friends. So yeah, I’m just looking forward to trying to facilitate, all the styles. So we come out, we do hip hop, we do jazz, we do funk. I know, people that do it all. I’m looking forward to what’s to come, you know, like, and just being that hub and building like a community, building a scene. We got to build. It’s a new decade. in the 20s and 30s, they had this scene. We had our scene in the 70s and 80s, the Garage and all that shit. People like to say, dig it. But, I’m grateful that so many people that I’ve been blessed to like know and say, thank you for all of the dope shit.

@djcboogie

Follow Shamika Sykes on Twitter & the ‘Gram for all of her interviews and adventures.

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Plug Star’s official interview w/ artist Da Real Nino

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What was the first piece of music that you bought for yourself and what was the medium?
It’s been so long ago that I really can’t remember the first project I bought. I would say it was one of The Carter albums on CD. Lil Wayne is one of my greatest inspirations

What’s at the top of your professional bucket list?
I have a lot of goals when it comes to my music. At the top of my professional bucket list would have to be receiving a Grammy for my music and a feature with Lil Wayne and/or Future.

How did your hometown/city shape who you are?
I was born in Indianapolis, IN but raised in Mobile, AL. Both have shaped me into the man that I am today. The greatest lesson I learned from my parents and surroundings was to never underestimate anybody. Regardless of circumstances, anybody can do whatever they put their minds to when life gets real.

What’s the last song you listened to?
My playlist is very versatile. I listen to alot of artists both independent and major. The last song was probably Allegations by Big 30 & Pooh Shiesty.

If you could see any artist in concert dead or alive who could it be?
If I could see any artist perform in concert, it would have to be Tupac. Just watching his videos and the movie, his energy was always crazy. I know that would be a dope concert.

What’s one thing that even your most devoted fans don’t know about you?
One thing my devoted fans may not know about me is that I dropped out of college and stopped my pursuit of playing in the NFL to do music. I had to really show and prove to myself, my parents and my fans that music is my true passion. I give my music 150% and work everyday on my craft.

If you were not a musician, what would you be?
If I was not a musician, I would definitely be pursuing entrepreneurial ventures. I see myself being a real-estate mogul at some point in my life.

Tell us about your latest single? When is your video releasing?
My first and latest single is Turn Up. It was released on August 15, 2020. The response was crazy. I received a plaque from DRT and got great feedback from the DJ Coalitions. The video is a real movie and was released on October 16, 2020. I am the Certified Coalition DJs ATL artist so the song is playing in a lot of clubs in Atlanta and Alabama for sure.

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Singer-Songwriter 96 Delivers Captivating Performance of “Need 2 Know”

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96

Independent R&B artist 96 is bringing some nostalgia to your ears with the track release of his track “Need 2 Know.” The single is a sample of Fabo’s “Can’t Let You Go” and the release was accompanied by a live performance of the song on YouTube. The singer-songwriter showcases his vocal abilities while delivering a catchy verse over the familiar melody.

96, who’s based in Toronto, Canada has a few other projects under his belt. As the artist has continued to find his sound over the years, he’s managed to accumulate a supportive fan base and has garnered traction on Toronto. His musical journey began in 2016 and was ultimately inspired by having two of the biggest artists, Drake and The Weeknd, who put Toronto in the spotlight and open the doors for that next wave of upcoming artists.

“Seeing people where I was from do such great things motivated me to go twice as hard,” 96 said in a recent interview.

The new single has a 2000s vibe, which is reminiscent of 96’s other projects and sound. He credits the mix to DJ Chopp-A-Lot, who was responsible for flipping the sample on the beat.

As far as the response to the project, 96 says that “Need 2 Know” has been his biggest release to-date — since his fans have been able to get the song to over 10k streams. As a thank you gift, the independent artist shared the live performance of the song on YouTube.

Watch the live performance of “Need 2 Know” below!

 

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