SOUTH BRONX — Aspiring hip-hop stars will get the chance to help one of the first artists who recorded with Def Jam Records lay down a track in The Bronx this weekend.
DJ Jazzy Jay, who was on the first rap recording that Def Jam Records came out with in 1984, will team up with DJ SpazeCraft One on June 21 to record a track at the corner of Southern Boulevard and Freeman Street from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m.
Members of the public are welcome to stop by their "Street Studio" and play an instrument, sing or record sounds that will become part of a final five-minute song representing The Bronx.
Jay said he was intrigued by the project because, although he has done work with artists ranging from LL Cool J to The Beastie Boys, doing a more informal project with different people who have different thoughts about music seemed like an interesting challenge.
He stressed that everyone starts out as an unknown and was excited to see what kind of talent would arrive at this weekend's Street Studio.
"The person I see from the streets today could be the next LL Cool J," he said.
Other Street Studios are taking place on June 21 in the Financial District at Brookfield Place, Williamsburg at Cameo Gallery and Jackson Heights in Diversity Plaza. Artists will share their mixes at a “Street Studio Smackdown” party in Brooklyn at the DUMBO Spot from 8 p.m. until 12 a.m., and everyone who recorded materials is invited.
Jay released Def Jam's first rap record, "It's Yours" with T La Rock back in 1984 and said that the label started as just a collaboration between friends.
The company has since grown to work with some of the biggest names in hip-hop, including Kanye West, Common and The Roots. It was started by legendary producer Rick Rubin, but Jay said he needed to learn a few things before becoming one of the genre's preeminent talents.
"The first three records on Def Jam was all basically stuff that I did because at that time Rick Rubin didn’t know what the hell he was doing," he said. "So basically it was just me."
Jay was a protege of Afrika Bambaataa, and he described the early days of hip-hop in The Bronx as a very exciting time.
“It was electrifying because people were a part of it because of the energy that it gave, not because they wanted to be involved with this big gigantic industry or to make all of this money,” he said. “The cats were doing it just for the love of it.”
He said he was most excited about helping people record music who have never before had the opportunity.
“My focus is getting good music happening and seeing the light on people’s faces when they hear their piece in the mix,” he said. “That’s my excitement: seeing people just be involved even if they have no experience. It’s the gateway drug to the arts.”
Jay said he was still unsure how they would put the final track together but was looking forward to doing so.
"It’s just like a question mark every time you jump into any project," he said. "I think I’m up to the challenge."