Blink and you mighta missed it on Headline News, but this past Memorial Day weekend, the first-ever Detroit Electronic Music Festival went off for three days. The event — peaceful, Motor City–government–sanctioned, with a lineup heavy on locally based techno legends handpicked by event organizer and electro-artist Carl Craig — drew more than 1 million people, making it the most successful city-sponsored techno-music street festival in U.S. history.
”People really was goin‘ wild there,“ chuckles Craig Adams, a.k.a. DJ Assault, on the phone from a suburb just outside Detroit. ”I was surprised that so many people was into it like they are. The females? It was hard to deejay from the distraction. They were showin’ me their thong and, I don‘t know, trying to, you know, send little messages.“
DJ Assault’s music — frenzied, bawdy body music usually referred to as ”ghetto tech“ — tends to do that to people. His new mix CD, Off the Chain for the Y2K, Volume Six, is a brain-boggling, 83-track, 58-minute bootyquake platter that +8 pitch-shifts its pranksterish way across musical genres and good-taste boundaries. Think nasty chipmunk rap with a house beat and lyrics by Dolemite. Or Blowfly at 170 beats per minute. The LCD‘s been put in the BPM at a high RPM, with lyrics like ”Your mamayour sisteryour cousin’s a hoHo! Ho! Ho! Ho! Ho! Ho!“ and song titles like ”Big Booty Bitch,“ ”Suck My M.F. Dick“ and, of course, the semi-infamous ”Ass-N-Titties 2001.“
”My stuff is sexually oriented, materialistic-type stuff,“ Adams explains slowly, speaking at a slightly disconcerting 40 wpm. ”It‘s my own little personal style — I’m not really on the violent tip. Females like it. Like, for instance, I‘m doing ’Ass-N-Titties 2001‘ and I need a part on there where a female is gonna say a soft ’Fuck me harder‘ and everybody’s, like, ‘Oooh, can I say it?’“
But Adams is doing more than bringing silly insults and booty rap to ridiculously foul new lows: He‘s playing hip-hop for tech-heads and house for rap fans, combining in live shows two kinds of music that previously were pretty distinct.
”Well, they are a little bit different styles, but I guess it’s really no different,“ he says. ”I just happen to do two different things, and I kinda incorporate one into the other. At raves, they really like it, because usually people that play fast music don‘t do a lot of tricks and scratches — they basically just mix records. But me, it’s really like how you would see a hip-hop DJ with two of the same records, him going back and forth, repeatin‘ the same thing over and over again.“
For the new CD, Adams and digital editor Ade Mainor used a computer to seamlessly blend together all the kinds of tracks Adams plays in his live sets: 40-second ghetto-tech songs that are little more than a synth riff and a chant; full-length hip-hop songs; and old funk, rock and rap records sped up to house tempos.
The album’s ho‘s-bitches-freaks monotony is broken up by a series of hilarious fake phone calls that tell little stories. There’s the demanding female fans who keep interrupting DJ Assault while he‘s trying to mix his CD. There’s a full-fronting fella calling himself DJ I Ain‘t Been Paid Yet who rings up (twice) saying, ”You should hear my shit! You can’t — you can‘t — you can’t really fuck with me! You should see me! But I guess you can‘t see me — I’m kinda blurry on the cover cuz I get my shit ran off at Kinko‘s!“ And there’s the fast-talking Detroit schoolteacher on strike who gives a series of priceless accolades: ”I wanna give shout-outs to my students, people at my school, the other teachers, custodians, everybody, even the rats ‘n’ roaches, it don‘t really matter . . . I wanna say, ’FUCK the school board,‘ I wanna say, ’FUCK the school board, TWICE . . . And I wanna say this with pride, make sure it‘s on the beat: No contract?No work!No contract?No work!No contract?No work!“
Adams promises that the next DJ Assault album — which will consist of full-length songs and will not be a mix CD — will feature more elaborate skits in the same humorous, locally oriented vein, written and produced by himself and his crew. At the same time, he’s working on scripts for his proposed Jefferson Ave.: The Animated Cartoon Series, which he envisions as a Fat Albert–like show about the ”different stuff that goes on in Detroit. It‘s gonna be all the kinds of stories that come on the soap operas, and the first episode will leave it hanging at a part that you kinda wish it hadn’t stopped at.“
All of which makes a certain amount of sense: Who better to chronicle the Detroit streets than the guy who rocks the city‘s block party?