DJ Roc Raida

This is the spot where you’ll see upcoming DJ’s as well as established veterans in the game. This will be the section where we feature the hottest DJ’s on the scene. We found it only proper to start this section out with a Legend. 

Roc Raida began his DJ career in the early eighties at the age of ten. Surrounded by such inspirations as his father, a member of the Sugar Hill Records act Mean Machine and hip hop impresario Grandmaster Flash, Raida cultivated his interest into an absolute passion. Now, Roc Raida is considered among the best of the contemporary DJ’s and has brought the art of Turntablism and Party rocking to a fresh new level.

In the late eighties Raida gained prominence as a member of the New York-based crew the X-Men who, for obvious of copyright reasons, later became known as the X-Ecutioners. Champions of furthering the turntablist movement, the X-Ecutioners made their reputation by utilizing the techniques of beat-juggling; the manual alteration between individual kick and snare sounds to create original drum patterns in real time. This practice has been an inspiration and a force in Roc Raida’s style.

In the beginning defeat was commonplace, as battles were mainly popularity contests. The more contests he entered the more the competition began to appreciate his style and determination. Pushing his limits and raising the standard with which DMC’s are judged, Raida began to get noticed. His impressive finishes in some of the premier DJ battles; first place in the 1991 “As One”; second place in the “Superman Battle”; and second place in the 1992 DMC US Finals were just the beginning. In 1995 Raida, was crowned the DMC World Champion in front of a massive London audience.

The past several years have seen Raida traveling around the globe in such exotic locations as Singapore, Turkey, Japan and Australia to China, Hawaii, Moscow, and the South of France. Two years ago on a panel at the Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Rules for this dubious honor state that one may only be bestowed with the approval of another Grandmaster; Raida was not only approved, but also welcomed by Kool Herc, Grand Wizard Theodore and scratch evolutionist DST. To round out a phenomenal decade, Raida was also inducted into the DMC Hall of Fame at the 1999 DMC World Finals in New York City. Roc Raida has been featured on an episode of “Saturday Night Live”; the first DJ to ever share the stage with the fabled SNL band. Proving, once again, that Raida is the perfect example of a master perfecting his art.

Raida has taken his DJ style to souring heights and has also moved into production in the last 8 years. He has produced record for artists, such as, Big L, Smif ‘N’ Wessun, Fat Joe, Bad Boy recording artist Aasim, Ghostface, Black Thought of The Roots and Linkin Park to name a few. He has also lent his hand’s scratching on records for artist’s like O.C.’s classic “Time’s Up” to pop sensation Pink’s new album “I’m Not Dead.” Recently Raida was the star of the National Pepsi commercial entitled Speakerboxx. From Raida’s experience’s and touring attributes he has released 3 DVD’s documenting The Adventures of Roc Raida and now created The Gong Battle (New York & London), which has brought a new light on the turntabilism world of battles.

With many more projects to come in the near future and now a part of the Heavy Hitters crew you will be hearing and seeing a lot of Raida for many years to come through his music, his visuals, his style and the radio where he is the newest edition to Washington D.C.’s #1 radio station WPGC 95.5. Stay tuned because The Adventures of Roc Raida are always going and going and going…

” The first Dmc I was in was I think ’92 or something. All I remember was being really scared to death. That was one of the main competitions and I wanted to do good. I came in 2nd I think. Rob swift won that one…Bastard…lol”

– Roc Raida


What’s crackin Raida?
Let’s talk a little about how you got into the whole scene, and then we’ll touch on your current stuff.

We know your father was a member of the Sugur Hill Records act Mean Machine. What was your most memorable time while growing up back then with your pops? (music wise)..Was there anything that stood out that you remember to this day? stories, etc..

RAIDA: My father use to take me to the studio and I always liked the way the turntables looked. And then my mother brought me a pair of turntables on Christmas and it has been on since than.

Who was your influence in Turntables, what or who made you decide to pursue it?

RAIDA: Back in ’87 I use to hang with my boy Sean Cee and at the time he was already battling cats. And I learned how to come up with patterns and how to put a battle set together. So I started practicing everyday real hard to a battle called the “As One Competition”. It was my first battle. I entered and I won. I was gassed up…lol

What was your 1st DMC like?

RAIDA: The first Dmc I was in was, I think ’92 or something. All I remember was being really scared to death. That was one of the main competitions and I wanted to do good. I came in 2nd I think. Rob Swift won that one…Bastard…lol

What was your take on the Q-Bert Mixmaster Mike and Apollo performance in the 1992 Rock steady DJs (USA) Dmc..?

RAIDA: They killed that shit. It was the first time I’ve seen them do the four man thing. Too bad it was against my ass.

You took 2nd in that battle correct? 

RAIDA: Yes I took 2nd place; I wanted to cry that night. True story.

How did it impact your drive for future Dmc’s?

RAIDA: At first I didn’t want to enter no more. I was like fuck them. But I gave it another shot in ’94 and went on to become the ’95-World Champ. That was one of the best feelings ever….to be the one out of all these dope ass dj’s to be a world champ? shitttt.

pulling down the ’95 World Champ crown, was there a sense of completion and accomplishment?

RAIDA: Of course there was. I felt like and didn’t really need to do it any more cause I’ve been doin it since fucking forever. But I will still step up to the plate need be.

Getting inducted into the DMC Hall Of Fame back in ’99, Describe it.

RAIDA: That was another dope feeling. To go down in there records as a Hall of Famer?? Shittt…that’s like “O.G. Status” there.

To get the nod from legends/founders such as Kool Herc and Grand Wizard Theodore, what was the feeling?

RAIDA: That’s always dope to get respect from those dudes cause I grew up hearing Theodore cut up behind Fantastic Five, and wishing I could go to one of Herc’s parties. I was a young dude taking notes from these dudes and trying to be what they were.

The battle circuit vs. performing? Is there a different mindset, etc?

RAIDA: There is for sure. To produce.. you have to have a know how to use samplers and e.q.’s and pro tools and shit like that. To come up with a Battle Set you just need turntables and records. But I put the same energy into both.

What’s your take on Serato vs. vinyl? 

RAIDA: Serato is dope. It’s the same thing really.

Which do you prefer?

RAIDA: I use both.

You’ve traveled all over the world. What’s the one thing you’ve noticed in terms of styles..? Are they pretty close to the same, or do you see new innovations, etc. from particular areas?

RAIDA: There are dope Dj’s all over. Some sound like people from the states and then some have their own style. Same with the states. Some people sound the same here as well.

Where do you see turntablism heading say 10 yrs from now?.. Compared to today?

RAIDA: I hate to answer that. I’m wrong every time. I’m tired of seeing old articles with me fucking up that answer.

You’ve created The Gong DJ Battle. How did that come about? Is this a long-term competition?
(Meaning will it be each year from now on?)

RAIDA: I’ve been thinking about this for at least 3 years now. It came to mind from us writing skits and stuff. I just wanted to have a really funny Dj battle. Plus having Lord Sear as a best friend and his feelings on the seen… I had to put it together. It’s just funny to me the whole gong thing and all.

How did you transition into making beats/producing? Are they both your passion (dj’ing ad producing)?
Or do you prefer one over the other?

RAIDA: I have an equal love for both.

You’ve produced for alot of artists (Big L, Smif ‘N’ Wessun, Fat Joe, Ghost face, Black Thought of The Roots and Linkin Park) What else do you have up your sleeve? Any other production projects we should be looking out for from you?

RAIDA: I’m working on my solo L.P. now. Hopefully I will be done soon.

How did you hook up with the Heavy Hitters? What should fans expect from that affiliation?

RAIDA: DJ Enuff is my dude.We known each other for a while, and I really like their movement and how they stick together….so I had to get down with them…and what to expect from it? You now have one of the best dj’s backed up by a really strong team of dj’s in every market. 

What’s your opinion on the mix tape scene right now VS the RIAA? (The whole DJ Drama issue)

RAIDA: All I can say is the police should focus on more important things, like real crime. People like Drama is just doing what was being done hip-hop started. Let a nigga get his money.. shitttt.

What about Rap? Who do you got in the deck? Who do you listen to?

RAIDA: I still listen to alot of the older stuff. Not alot of new shit that I like sounds good to me. There’s a few things Ghost Face, Nas, and Jay-Z do…. some things here and there ..but not much.

Do you like the direction rap is in right now? Give some input..

RAIDA: It’s not too good now, but I know it will come back to the real shit soon. I don’t hate dirty south but too much of it is not good.

Who would you like to collab with on a rap record?

RAIDA: Nas, and Jay- Z.

Any last words?

RAIDA: Thanks for the interview and I hope to see you at a Gong Battle near you….aightttttt????
Uno ..GM Roc Raida

Appreciate the time..