Maybe the bean counters were hoping DeeJay Punk-Roc would mimic the big-beat style
of the Chemical Brothers or Propellerheads on his debut album.
If so, they miscalculated.
The Bronx, N.Y., native (born Charles Gettis) wasn't about to be confined to any such
limits for his recently released record, ChickenEye. He wanted an album that
reflected his roots as a hip-hop disc jockey, a world traveler and a lover of countless
"I have a real passion for music, and I'm just so sick of people trying to segregate this into
that corner and that into this corner," DeeJay Punk-Roc said.
"What I'm all about musically is a little bit of everything, and I wanted the album to reflect
that. I wanted it to be versatile and hopefully that's the point I've gotten across," he said
recently from Milwaukee, where he was making a stop with the hip-hop and heavy-metal
Family Values Tour.
"I believe the majority of the world's problem comes from trying to segregate things. I just
don't like doing that with music. To me, if it's good, I don't care where it came from or who
made it or whatever. If it's good, let's say it and just enjoy it.
"I figured that if I wanted to make a mark on music, I had to show what I was about
The result is ChickenEye, an 11-track album with grooves that roll through such
diverse musical styles as big-beat, early '80s techno-funk, jazz and ambient.
"I Hate Everybody" (RealAudio excerpt), for
example, is a fast-paced sonic collage any big-beat artist would be proud to call his or
her own. But then there's "No Meaning," with its loop of ambient keyboards, plus jazzy
horns and piano, backing a fierce scratching session.
"Dedicated" recasts the flute loop on the Beastie Boys' "Sure Shot," while the
background noise on "Far Out" is reminiscent of many a Public Enemy song. Then
there's "My Beatbox" (RealAudio excerpt), which clearly wears the
influence of Afrika Bambaataa's "Planet Rock" on its electro-funk sleeve.
"I was trying to re-create that feeling," the 28-year-old DeeJay Punk-Roc said, "but put my
spin on it. If any one track on the album stands out for me, it would be that one. ... If it had
not been for 'Planet Rock' I probably would have never started to make music."
DeeJay Punk-Roc was the youngest of six children born and raised in the Bronx, the
New York City borough that spawned hip-hop. He spent years traveling in the military
and soaking up new sounds around the world, but he says he's still mainly influenced by
the artists he admired when growing up: Bambaataa, Run-D.M.C. and Kurtis Blow.
"I was never very good at rapping," he said. "I had friends who could do that better than
me, so I just started spinning at block parties. As a kid, you get out there and you do your
little [Grandmaster] Flash impression thing or whatever and that's how it started."
"I think the first time someone dances to a record you play, you're hooked," he said. "Ask
any DJ and they'll probably tell you the same thing."
DeeJay Punk-Roc left high school and home at 16 to join the U.S. Army. Spending eight
years in uniform, he was stationed at such faraway locales as Japan, Germany and
England. He returned to civilian life in 1993 and started organizing block parties again,
he said. Within a few years, he was performing at large dance events across Europe and
working on his debut album.
Apparently it's all adding up. Many in the longtime hip-hop-influenced dance/rave scene
are finding DeeJay Punk-Roc's mix of diverse influences a welcome breath of fresh air.
"Turntablists and hip-hop DJs are bringing a whole new thing to dance events," said
Northern California rave-promoter Sason Parry of Cool World Productions. "They bring
something that's very organic and original that the scene hasn't had for a long time and
they're expanding the horizons to allow for more diversity and more inclusion."
ChickenEye also has been heralded in club-music circles as a refreshing new
twist in an arena often dominated by faceless knob-twisters who only scratch when
they've been bitten by a mosquito and whose hip-hop experience is limited to what they
hear on the radio and TV.
Recently, DeeJay Punk-Roc had a new audience for his melting pot of musical styles,
appearing between sets on the heavy-metal-centric Family Values Tour. Besides playing
his own tunes, he brought along approximately 150 records from his collection of 15,000.
"I spin a little bit of everything," he said. "I spin a little hip-hop, some retro stuff and a little
bit of my own material. I just mix it up. It's never predictable and that's the way I like it.
That's why I like this tour so much."
In particular, he proclaimed himself a huge fan of the fire-crazed S&M industrial-metal
band Rammstein, saying that if any band on the tour were to influence his next album,
it'd be that one.
"The first time I saw 'em I was like, 'Whoa! Whoa! Whoa!' " he recalled. "I'm a fan of rock,
you know, and after I saw their show I was just like 'Whoa!' So, I could really be inspired
there -- we'll see.
"I've laid down most of the material for the next album already, probably about 70
percent of it," he said. "It'll change up, though. I'll chop it up a little bit, because that's the
way it always goes."