by Madeleine Peck
“I want to throw the events that no one else wants to throw, but everyone wants to go to,” says local DJ and promoter Mat Smith (Hater Free). “That’s why I’m bringing Public Enemy’s DJ, Lord Aswod, to Jacksonville for a soundclash with DJ Shotgun. It’ll be a night like no other.”
In hip-hop culture it is impossible to overstate the importance of the DJ. Holding down the baseline while propping up the rest of the group, the DJ is, in many ways, the invisible force that holds a group together. However, with the rise of the iPod and other MP3 players, sometimes a dude with a semi-decent playlist can get labeled DJ.
For Public Enemy, the DJ has always been an integral part of their show, and in 1999, after groundbreaking DJ Terminator X left the group, they had to replace him with a DJ of equal or greater skill. Enter Lord Aswod, a Savannah-born turntablist who rose to prominence for his sleight-of-hand acrobatics on the turntables, exquisite beatmatching, and consummate professionalism. Says Smith, who has known Lord since the mid-90s and calls him a friend, “He is humble and creative. He’s open to anything and not set in his ways, but at the same time he rehearses every day and is very competitive.”
This professional competitive streak is why Smith is sure the night will be an important one for local hip-hop aficionados. “He and Shotgun are both amazing to watch and, for me, this night is really larger than hip-hop- it’s about bringing people together to hear some real music.”
Lord Aswod has performed all over the world and gained accolades for his solos during Public Enemy shows, numerous battle championships, and the documentary DJ Lord, the Turntablist Chronicles. For more information, visit
Hater Free is DJ Mat Smith’s production/event wing. With a solid grounding in hip-hop, Hater Free amplifies the best parts of that culture, occasionally fusing them with dubstep, drum & bass, and live band performances. “What we do is manipulated, but never falsified; it’s all honest work.”
Soundclash Jax: DJ Lord and DJ Shadow happens February 11 at the Phoenix Taproom, 325 W. Forsyth St. Tickets are $9 at the door. For more information, contact Mat Smith at 470-9112.