Rob Swift Talks Tribute Mixtape to the Late Roc Raida

Rob Swift Talks Tribute Mixtape to the Late Roc Raida
It's been just over two years since Roc Raida, pioneering turntablist and DJ who was part of the groundbreaking X-Ecutioners crew, died after complications relating to a martial arts accident.

Tomorrow (March 20) Raida's longtime friend and fellow DJ and X-Ecutioner Rob Swift is releasing the Roc for Raida mixtape, which will benefit Raida's family and coincide with the 21st anniversary of when he first met the late artist when they were rival DJs.

The Roc for Raida mixtape is conceptual in that it features Raida's former X-Ecutioners Total Eclipse and Mista Sinista, with whom he toured the world, performing memorable DJ Roc Raida routines. The mixtape also includes excerpts from interviews Raida did, as well as incorporating hip-hop tracks he either contributed to or produced including O.C.'s classic single "Time's Up."

"I felt that I wanted the project to encompass everything about Raida," says DJ Rob Swift talking to Exclaim! "There's so many levels to him as an artist, a DJ, there's so many different things he did. A lot of people listen to '90s hip-hop songs that contain scratches that Raida recorded, but they don't know that it's actually Raida scratching on these songs. I wanted to help shed light on that."

Roc Raida produced for '90s hip-hop acts Big L and Show & AG, among others, and his skill earned him gigs like being Busta Rhymes' tour DJ. But he's perhaps best known individually for capturing the 1995 DMC World DJ Championship and in the battle arena was known for his intricate body tricks.

"There were DJs before us that did body tricks and used their elbow, used their backs and their stomach and their mouths to manipulate the turntable and the music that we're playing and doing it in a real flashy way," says Rob Swift. "But Roc Raida took that technique to new levels, and I know that there hasn't been a DJ to elevate the technique of body tricks the way that Raida did and maybe there will never be."

Via the mixtape's interviews, the release aims to help give insight into the kind of person the man born Anthony Williams was. Despite the knowing smirk that accompanied his many routines, Raida was by all accounts a humble and introverted person before his death in September 2009.

"More than any technical or musical accomplishment that Raida has achieved I think as a person I think what I'm most proud of and impressed about Raida is that he came from nothing," says Swift. "Raida was born in the projects very poor. There was a time that he didn't have turntables, and he would have to go to friend's houses to practise and teach himself. He practised more without turntables at people's houses who actually had the turntables. He practised more than them and that says a lot about his drive."

Roc for Raida will be available tomorrow via Swift's website and on Bandcamp.