The Bangerz, Workhorse Bay Area Rap Producers, Discuss Their Vegas Show, Chris Brown, and Carlos Mencia

Categories: Q&A

If you've been at the Monte Carlo in Las Vegas recently -- and no, I wasn't expecting to start a sentence that way either -- perhaps you took in MüS.I.C., the critically acclaimed live show from masked B-boy crew JabbaWockeeZ. Or perhaps you saw it at the 2009 NBA All Star Game? Or maybe you're just a Lewis Carroll enthusiast with a penchant for smooth breakin' moves? Or maybe you heard about all of this at the beginning of this paragraph. Frankly, it's not important. Here's what they do:

The sound behind the swooping Phantom of the Opera-meets-Romeo Must Die footwork of the Vegas show comes from a San Jose-based six-piece production team called The Bangerz: winners of various DJ championships, producers for various hip-hop artists, licensers of music to various fast-food promotional campaigns. (Also, they apparently toured with Carlos Mencia once.) This month the Bangerz released Müs.I.C., the album companion to the Vegas show, on iTunes. Below, they tell us about their origins, hearing their music in airport baggage claims, and how Chris Brown is sometimes okay to work with.

How's Monte Carlo treating you?
It's a really good deal what we have going on at the Monte Carlo. They have embraced us with open arms. They even play the Bangerz music in the elevators!

What's the story of the Bangerz? How did the group come about?
We formed the crew in 1998 when we were attending Silver Creek High School. We grew up around a thick DJ scene, and we decided to form a supergroup of the best DJs at our school. From there, we entered the ITF and DMC battles individually and as a crew (we went on to win the 2000 ITF Western Hemisphere Team title). At the same time, we DJ'ed at parties and shows. After a handful of mixtapes and DJ battle records, we started producing our own brand of scratch-infused experimental music. We independently released our first album, VI-R-US, in 2003. This was the same album that the Jabbawockeez found us through. From there, we started performing our original music live. And now we're here!

Where are we most likely to have heard your music without knowing it?
Ad spots for McDonald's, Sprint, The Sims and The Simpson's video games, the Monte Carlo's elevators, and the baggage claim at McCarran Airport in Vegas.

Where do you, as a crew, fit into the Bay Area hip-hop scene?
We're the workhorses of the Bay Area scene. One night, you'll see one of us DJing at an art gallery in San Jose, then playing the closing set at a hip-hop show. Double booking is a common practice in our crew.

How has releasing Müs.I.C. on iTunes been different from releasing it through normal channels?
With the convenience of the Internet, the music is available at the touch of a button. Also, the Internet is where both the Bangerz and the Jabbawockeez built their buzz. Not to mention the fact that music stores are becoming more and more obsolete. But we do have physical copies of the album, exclusively at the Monte Carlo in Vegas.

What's the composition process like with all six of you? Is it democratic?

Very much so! We've always worked in that manner since we started producing music. Each member comes to the table with a track, and if we feel like it can go somewhere, we'll expand on it. The rejects become scraps for songs that almost always become something later, so we never run out of ideas.

Is there a division of labor to speak of?
We all carry equal weight in our respective territories, whether it's DJing, performing or producing. We all trade hats.

As producers, who have been some of your favorite artists to work with?
Aside from the Jabbawockeez, who were the first ones to really get what we were all about, Chris Brown's been a pleasure to work with. We've also been working with some great artists out of San Jose like rappers Rey Resurreccion and Don Prahfit.

What Bay Area artists would you like to work with?
Too $hort, En Vogue, Tony Toni Tone, and Oaktown 357s. Maybe Ho Frat Ho, if the money's right.

What on earth were you doing touring with Carlos Mencia?
Learning how to crack jokes and clown on people while DJing.

Any last words?
Cop the MUS.I.C. album on iTunes
! This is only the beginning, y'all. San Jo, YOU KNOW!

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