DJ Spinna Prepares to Host This Weekend's Michael Jackson Tribute Party

DJ Spinna via Facebook

Editor's note: In Tweets is Watching, Phillip Mlynar asks local artists questions based solely on the contents of their Twitter timeline.

DJ Spinna will be holding down deck duties at a Michael Jackson tribute party this Sunday. Once that's in the bag, he'll be hitting the lab to ready up a Jigmastas reunion album that's slated to drop later this year. Before then, here's Spinna talking through his Twitter timeline admiration of George Duke, reminiscing over M.J., and looking back to being on the set of a certain Spike Lee video joint.

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Can you remember when you first came across George Duke's music?
Yeah, the first record I remember hearing was "Reach For It" as a kid, which is probably his first commercial success. Prior to that he was doing mostly jazz-fusion but this record had the funk to it. I was six-years-old when that came out.

What appealed to you most about "Reach for It"?
Well funk was the mode at that time, you know, so it was very similar to what was happening with Funkadelic like it had that same fat bottom. Same as Ohio Players. It was in the mode of that time.

How would you sum up George Duke's importance?
His body of work has so much depth. He started off orchestrating classical jazz stuff, he worked with Frank Zappa on the experimental rock side, and then all of his MPS records before he got signed to Epic, they're just experimental and eccentric as well as very musical and technical. He was ahead of his time: he used a lot of keyboards and synthesizers and the way he put them together was uncanny. He was kinda intergalactic!

Then when you start looking into the collaborations, like he's on Michael Jackson's Off The Wall album a few times, there's so much stuff like that. And he was highly influenced by Brazilian music and disco and funk and he had a little pop success in the '80s, so he was all over the place! I remember that every record I picked up of his he always had a smiling face on the cover! I'm sure if you had a conversation with him he'd have said life is too short and you've got to enjoy it.

What's your favorite way another producer has sampled George Duke's music?
Dilla, to me, did it best on [Common's] "Thelonious." Nothing compared to that, the way Dilla heard that little snippet [on "Vulcan Mind Probe"], those little two seconds, and the way he used it.

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