If you’ve been to a Bay Area hip-hop or ‘90s event in the last decade, you’ve probably seen the phrase “hosted by Fran Boogie” on a flier. This week, the column takes a look at the dynamics between a DJ and their hype man. As the non-DJ member of the Triple Threat Crew, Fran Boogie has stood alongside some of the Bay’s most prominent hip-hop DJs as a bodyguard, emcee, hypeman, and body-roll connoisseur. We got a chance to talk about his beginnings as a nightlife dancer, hosting events, and his love for all things ‘90s and Fernet.
You started your nightlife career as a dancer (not the kind people usually default to). Tell us about how that came about.
I grew up listening to a lot of music as a kid. I never wanted to be a dancer or anything. My body just reacted to the music. I went to a ton of house parties and school dances as a kid. I couldn't shake the bug. I just wanted to dance. I guess all Filipino kids catch the same bug. At 16, I went to my first club in Hollywood called Balistyx on the Sunset Strip, which was owned by David Faustino (Bud Bundy) and Nic Adler, son of Grammy award winning producer Lou Adler. This changed my life. People just gettin' busy in the dance cyphers – all styles! It was dope. Jimmy (Taboo) of the Black Eyed Peas was a regular. He was a dope ass dancer. It started there and it never stopped. I was at every party in Hollywood, just to cut the rug!
Did you ever have a signature dance move?
Nah, not back in the day. I did a little bit of everything. But cats now me out here for my “body roll and finger gun” dance. I close my eyes and hit 'em with the slow body roll and then I pull out the finger guns on 'em. That's my shit! [laughs]
How did that evolve into a being a host of parties?
I really never understood the term “host” for parties when I was given that title back in the day. I guess since I was out all the time and the “cool” parties and I developed a following, they asked me to “host” events – essentially to bring my crowd to their particular events. Host also meant being the party emcee. I liked this version of the term “host” much better. My good friends Mr. E. and Randall Rufino threw dope ass hip-hop parties back in the Bay at Mission Rock. I would always find myself next to the DJ booth reciting all of the words to the records they played, especially Mr. E. I guess it brought a new level of energy to the dance floor as well as to him when he was DJing. I really was just reacting to what he was playing. I fed off him and he fed off my energy. It was “love at first sight” you could say. We were like peanut butter and jelly. It worked I guess. It was never planned or intentional, it just was.
You're also part of the Triple Threat DJ crew as a host. What's it like being part of an OG crew of the Bay Area?
Such an honor. You're talking about Apollo, Shortkut and Vinroc here! These guys are better human beings than they are DJs. I'm grateful for them taking me in and teaching me the ways of the party rocking lifestyle. These guys are my brothers and I appreciate having them in my life. Truly blessed!
What are some of the essential characteristics that a good hype man has?
I think the most important thing is having a connection with the music. If you don't know the music or can't feel it, then it's not real. I reacted to the music. It dictated my energy, my delivery, my flow and my entire attitude. If there is not connection, there really ain't shit. One more thing, you got to know how to have fun and not give a fuck about what people think. You got to be carefree and goofy while being fun and spontaneous all at the same time. But this only exists if it's in you. You can't teach it. You just got to have it. When I was at parties, I came to have a good time. I always wanted to be Busta Rhymes and Leann Rimes, feel me?!
As a promoter of Back to the '90s and a lover of slow jams, what do you think was the most underrated track of the '90s?
Good question. I've never thought about it to be honest. Let me marinate on this. Can I tell you what in my opinion is the most annoying song of the 90's in a club, well at least for me? “This Is How We Do It” by Montell Jordan. I can't even speak on it now, because I'm annoyed already.
How have you seen Bay nightlife evolve in the past sixteen years you've been here?
It's definitely changed a lot. I don't want to sound like the old grumpy guy with a chip on his shoulder but what annoys me is how DJs are wack but they get put on because they are popular. I blame this on social media, 100%. Wack DJs who are dope because of IG/Twitter followers but have no skill, or are just completely trash. You know who you are! [laughs]. I could really go on a long and endless rant about this — but I won't.
As someone who usually stands near the DJ and potentially acts as a bodyguard against messy club-goers, what's are some weird requests you encounter?
Messy girls always ask you to play 50 Cent's “In Da Club” or if you can play hip-hop when in fact, the DJ is already playing hip-hop. Or this…”Can you play my song now cause I'm leaving?” People also request the music to be stopped at 12a.m. so we can sing happy birthday to their friend who is usually shit-faced beyond recognition and has no idea about what's going on.
What’s one song you know will always get people hype and sing-along to?
I'm not going to address the mainstream music fans because that's too easy — anything that sounds like Future. But for my somewhat musically inclined: “Scenario” by ATCQ, “Killing Me Softly” by Lauryn Hill, “Ante Up” by M.O.P. and “Passin' Me By” by the Pharcyde are usually no-brainers.
People also know your love for Fernet. What is it about this aperitif that makes it so Bay Area and easy to imbibe for you?
You said “imbibe” – I like that! Here's my story on Fernet and how I started drinking it. Back in the day, I used to do a party at Milk on Haight Street called Flava of The Month with Apollo, Shortkut and Vinroc. When the party ended and every one left, minus the homies. We would sit at the bar and count our earnings while talking shit with the staff and bartenders. Since it was already after 2 a.m., the bartenders wanted to get a quick buzz since they've been working all night and haven't had a “chance” to drink cause it would be irresponsible to drink on the job right? My friend Kyle always made me take Fernet shots with him at the end of the night. The fellas hated that shit but I was like, “Fuck it, I'm down Kyle.” I was usually fucking trashed at the end of the night already so it didn't matter. I'd take shots of Fernet with Kyle all the time. Mind you I wasn't drinking it for the taste, I was drinking to get fucked up and of course to keep Kyle company!
Apparently, this was the drink of choice for many of my bartender friends in SF. They drank Fernet for the quick hit. I don't know anyone who drinks Fernet for the taste. It's like drinking Nyquil, fuck that. So Fernet is my drink of choice because it gets me there quick. If I'm gonna drink, I'm gonna drink Fernet every time. I'm immune to Hennessey and Jameson. Anyone who comes into town, they know we are drinking Fernet and they absolutely despise me for it. My friends that I've made drink Fernet have so many horror stories from drinking Fernet which I find all amusing cause it didn't happen to me. It's like, “Oooooooh got 'eeeeeem!” every time. Shout out to my dude Equipto and Mike Marshall though – they recorded a song that's called “I Drink Fernet!” The best way to describe the taste of Fernet is “It's like Christmas in your mouth!”
You'll be hosting 45 sessions this Thursday in Oakland, a party that truly exudes a '90s golden era house party vibe. Why is it important to keep these types of parties going versus big ass rave parties?
The 45 Sessions party is important because it's not only nostalgic but it helps keep the culture alive and thriving. Platurn is the man for this, no question. He knows that this is part of our culture that needs to survive and I'm not talking about hip-hop culture, I'm talking about DJ culture and music culture. I'm happy to be part of this event because I'm doing my part. Sure it may not be for everybody but you know what, there is something for everyone and there are definitely people out there who appreciate the dopeness of 45s and it's significance in DJ culture. So thank you Platurn and the whole 45 Sessions family. It's gonna be a good one so don't miss it! I'm looking forward to watching Prince Paul, Shortkut, Mr. E and Platurn flex on Thursday night at the Uptown in Oakland! You need to get up to get down!
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