Having devoted his career to sharing his passion for hip-hop, it’s only fitting that local DJ Sean G obtained his first and only pair of Technics 1200s turntables by way of a back pages ad in a 1997 issue of The Source magazine. “This was before the Internet and the only way I knew how to acquire proper equipment,” he laughs, noting he was only 15 at the time.
Spending the rest of his high school days DJing and throwing various open mics, poetry slams, and house parties, he eventually became the accomplished full-time DJ and event producer he is known as today. In the past few years, he’s opened for artists like Raekwon, Big Boi, and Mobb Deep, and thrown many notorious local hip-hop parties. We caught up with Sean G about the state of hip-hop nightlife, best DJ experiences, and his favorite Boot Camp Clik tracks. He plays the Official Bay Area Sean Price Tribute and Benefit Party along with a host of local DJs this Saturday, [11/7] at Elbo Room.
When did you realize you would be a specialist in hip-hop?
I always knew my specialty was hip-hop. As a kid I knew I wanted to be like Jam Master Jay, Pete Rock or DJ Premier, and I wanted to DJ for rappers but as I entered high school and started DJing house parties I realized how fun it was to keep the dance floor moving — and girls dancing — so that ended up taking over my focus [laughs].
How have you seen hip-hop nightlife/community change around the Bay since you started DJing?
San Francisco used to be a major hub for hip-hop and nightlife in general. You used to be able to go to two to three clubs in one night and they would all have quality parties with several genres and there were several clubs dedicated to each genre. Now there are really no hip-hop clubs left in SF but mostly there isn't much nightlife, mainly because the population that was creating and supporting this exciting nightlife has been decimated by gentrification and many of the young people who have moved to the city don't go out at all. Many of the clubs now are programmed by genre differently night to night and you have to really seek out genre based niche parties night to night to find quality events and those are few and far between. Fortunately my colleague and I throw some of the best parties and concerts around.
Where do you see it going on the next couple of years?
I think in the next few years it will probably get worse because it doesn't seem like a whole lot of local talent is stepping up, mainly because there isn't much local talent. There is no more middle class left in San Francisco so that means there is not really any youth to grow up and replenish the local talent base. I would say look to Oakland and outside of the City to fill that void.
What factors are essential in keeping the hip-hop nightlife alive and well?
If we want to keep the nightlife alive and well we need to invest in ourselves as a community start of our businesses and open our own clubs. Economic control is needed. Also work with younger generations to bring them into this way of thinking and teach them how they can create for themselves.
Recently, you released a mix called Recent Waves Vol 2. What’s the story behind it?
Oh Recent Waves is a new monthly mix I’m doing that just highlights whatever new rap and R&B I am listening to and enjoying at the time. That reminds me, I need to get ready to release the November edition!
What has been your favorite DJ experience in your career thus far?
I can't say what my favorite experience is because I’ve been very fortunate to have so many. I have DJ’d at shows with so many of my favorite artists and fellow DJs. I threw a monthly party for 4 years at 330 Ritch called Block Party”and for our three- year anniversary I booked Iamsu! right as he was started to blow up with “Up” and “Swaggin All Day.” That was a way cool experience for many due to the fact that he's arguably the biggest artist out of the Bay right now and I produced the entire event. Also throwing quarterly parties with Atlanta legend DJ Drama stands out but there are so many amazing projects and events I am thankful to have been a part of that it's difficult to pick them out.
You'll be playing the official Bay Area Sean Price Tribute at Elbo Room this Saturday. How has BCC's music influenced you?
I've always been a big fan of Boot Camp Clik since I was a freshman in high school and bought Black Moon's “Enta Da Stage” the first day Amoeba Records on Haight Street opened up. I thought the sound was perfect and then went on to buy all of the first generation BCC solo group albums and was hooked. I always liked how they mixed a West Indies/Caribbean sound with a more traditional East Coast/Brooklyn sound. Recently one of their leaders Sean Price from the subgroup Heltah Skeltah passed away. I know his music and story connected with his fans and we were all saddened by his passing. Although Price’s musical accomplishments have been acclaimed across the world he never made too much money doing it as he dubbed himself “Brokest Rapper You Know.” After talking to some of my friends and colleagues I decided we needed to join the community of his and BCC fans across the world to throw him a tribute party that would benefit his wife and children which he rapped about a lot and loved very dearly.
What track is a must-play for you this Saturday?
I haven't give this much thought because he and the Clik have so many good songs but probably “STFU Pt 2” by Sean Price, “Operation Lockdown” by Heltah Skeltah or “Super Brooklyn” by Cocoa Brovaz (Smif-n-Wessun).
You'll also be DJing with a lot of local talent and DJs for the benefit.
It means a lot to just think about all the local DJs I know who loved Sean Price and his music and be able to shoot out a few texts to them and ask them to join in on the celebration. I am thankful to know and work alongside so many talented people.
With almost twenty years of producing events and DJing, what has stayed constant in your career?
I think it's always been to make sure I get the party jumping but do it in my own way by featuring or breaking some records people haven't heard yet or are about be hits. Also it has been to throw my own parties and concerts and create my own way. I never to wait around for anyone to create my path for me.