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On The Strength: CKLN''s DJ OSUM talks to AfroToronto.com

26 Nov 2005

DJ O.S.U.M is the co-host of On The Strength, a weekly radio program that airs on Thursday Nights from 2AM to 6AM on Ryerson University ’s CKLN 88.1 FM. The show’s official description on the CKLN website states that it is dedicated to “The pursuit of mastering the art of Hip Hop in the ongoing battle against the evil forces of mainstream corporate industry.”

I sat down with O.S.U.M to get the lowdown.

AfroToronto.com: What does O.S.U.M stand for ?

O.S.U.M: It''s an acronym for Old School Underground Music and it''s pronounced awesome. It''s a play on words because a lot of people use that word awesome in their vocab and when I tell them I DJ or they hear me play they say oh that''s awesome. and I''m like yeah that''s my name. But it''s less a reference to the music as it is more so about the style. Parties back in the day were no holds barred in terms of music, electro, rock pop, latin, hip-hop, soul, whatever, it was all good. So I try and stick to the roots of party rockin by mixing it all up in terms of playing whatever sounds good.

AfroToronto.com: How did you get into the deejay game?

O.S.U.M: First off I would not describe this as "the deejay game" I think that lightens the dedication, time,money and love that a vast majority are committed to. Some may view it as a game but for me and a lot of my friends who are deejays, it''s a part of who we are and the things we do in our daily operations. But to answer your question, it was around the summer of like 89-90. (…) I spent like 3 weeks visiting my aunt with my mom to Whitby . There''s not much to do in Whitby now never mind back then, so when my uncle was at work he would let me play his records on his DJ equipment.

AfroToronto.com: Were you into music already?

O.S.U.M: I was already into a lot of different music through the influence of my dad who when my parents were together it was often a ritual on Saturday mornings. Cartoons, the stereo (usually echoing Al Jarreau, Bob Marley or some Arrow) and pancakes before going out to play in the park with friends. So because I was isolated in Whitby (Hey a good name for a mixtape) I just would practice all day mixing and listening to his records. Some of the big ones I remember at the time were Stevie V, Dirty Cash. Indeep, Last Night a Dj Saved My life and Bell BivDevoe was just coming out with Poison. So I have my mom, dad, and uncle to thank for it mostly.

AfroToronto.com: What about Hip Hop?

O.S.U.M: I was a late bloomer in the Hip-Hop scene so when I got back to Calgary, some of my friends who were already into deejaying at the time put me onto the likes of Twin Hype, UTFO, BDP and more. I really liked the remixes that were coming out at the time. They were basically extended versions of the existing with mad samples and breaks to make them more hype than the original. I remember a lot of Coldcut remixes.

Download DJ OSUM.....Sample MP3s

AfroToronto.com: In regards to the scene, what are some of your likes and dislikes?

O.S.U.M: I hate how expensive records can be sometimes (…). Technology is killing the art in the sense that now DJs don''t have to buy records anymore. And I don''t blame the people who are going that way or starting that way in the sense that why buy a record for $10 -$12 when you can download an mp3 for $1.99 or even free and play that same way. Even more so than the fact that it cuts out so much of the ground work that a lotta dudes spent half their life on. It''s killing the industry. Distribution companies, graphic designers, street promotion teams and more. A lot of people are gonna feel the burn of technology. On the flipside, I like playing music, that is relatively unheard of but moves the crowd regardless. Having that rare cut or new tune that is undeniable is worth the groundwork it took to find it or work it into the mix when you see the people bop their heads and butts.

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AfroToronto.com: Whom would you cite as being influential in your development as a DJ?

O.S.U.M: Of course we all have to pay respects to founding fathers of the dj/hip-hop culture. Namely, Kool Herc, Bambataa, Grandwizard Theodore, Cash Money and all them. I got really into the DMC videos in the early 90''s and that exposed me to a new way of looking at myself as a DJ. Although I never went the turntablist route I am definitely inspired by dudes like invisible Skratch Piklz, X-ecutioners and Beat Junkies. But I feel it''s the people in within reach who are most influential. All my peoples of course, specifically that would be Al Testa, Dj Pump,Dean Clarke, Drew Atlas (who I used to do the Groove with back on cjsw), Richard Sixto(Mr. Supercalfrajasexy), DJ Southpaw(lefties unite), my man 187, Scootz, Son of S.O.U.L, Fatski(the big & boisterous), yourself(gazza)and of course My Uncle Nigel. I listen to a lot of mixtapes and radio so shout out to all those dj''s as well because I feel in order to be a good performer you gotta take time to listen to what''s goin on around you. Y''know, keep your ear to the ground.

AfroToronto.com: Any trends we should look out for?

O.S.U.M: As sad as it is to say. A significant decrease in vinyl. It''s already started with the likes of Serato Scratch, cd j''s and ipods a lot of dj''s are opting to not to buy vinyl namely due to the weight and space of heavy crates plus the cost of vinyl vs as mp3 download. Of course I don''t think it will ever die but it will go through another period of sufferation.

AfroToronto.com: In parting any words of wisdom ?

O.S.U.M: As redundant as it may sound, do it for the love. Even the dudes I know who are making money doing this and treat it like a job, still love what they''re doing at the end of the day. Because best believe that you are gonna have to deal with a lot of nonsense along the way so if it''s not really something you enjoy and you have to deal with a lot of bull then add on the fact that money can be scarce at times, you may as well sit yourself behind a desk and at least be glad for a consistent paycheque.

DJ O.S.U.M will be deejaying at the Soulweekender on Sunday Oct 23 at the Trane Studio ( 964 Bathurst St . ) – 10 pm. For more info send an email to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

For more on DJ O.S.U.M, please visit his website: www.ckln.fm/~onthestrength/

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