Published May 02, 2015Anyone who's ever played a DJ set in Toronto knows it can be a daunting task to get audiences here moving. Luckily for those attending Tattoo's opening night Canadian Music Week showcase, Stones Throw Records' head honcho Peanut Butter Wolf and DJ/producer/turntablist J. Rocc were more than up to the challenge. If you've seen the 2014 documentary about the Los Angeles independent label's history (best known for releases from the late J Dilla and Madlib and MF Doom's Madvillain), Our Vinyl Weighs A Ton, you know its founder's record collection is second to none.
If Wolf is Stones Throw's crate-digging patriarch, then J. Rocc is the label's Boiler Room-slaying crown prince, and they fed off each others' energy for a back-to-back set. While they were surrounded by six screens showing various arcade video games (Kong, Pac-Man, etc.), cartoon, and movie scenes, all eyes were on the duo, who moved effortlessly between a handful of mixers and one laptop. Upping the difficulty by sticking to 45s, they played a Shazam-defying two hours of horn-heavy soul, new-boogie and hip-hop breaks. Instead of retreating into the corners of the room, people packed the dance floor, losing articles of clothing as the night progressed.
For the finale, they cut Sugarhill Gang's "Apache (Jump On It)" off midway to let the crowd rapturously sing the chorus before dropping Beastie Boys' "Intergalactic." To paraphrase another Dilla admirer, Kanye West, they turned the rec room basement out of the nightclub.