Seattle's DJ Mr Supreme (also known as Supreme La Rock or Preme for short) has been involved in DJ culture and collecting for well over twenty years. His encyclopedic knowledge proceeds him in collectors circles where he is know to regularly drop the phrase "got it" in reference the rarest of rare records. The elusive CTI briefcase? He's "got it". The uber rare Alabama funk LP by the Brief Encounter? He's "got it". The list goes on and on, but beyond his rep as a collector Preme is one hell of a DJ, rocking parties the world over, and holding the title as the official DJ for the Seattle Sea Hawks. We caught up with Mr Supreme to chat about what what he's got going on and what else he's "got" up his sleeves.
Where did you grow up? What was it like?
Born in Los Angeles but grew up in Seattle. It was fun as I was growing up in the 80's just doing kid stuff riding my bike, playing Atari, breakdancing and hitting the record store
Were you raised in a musical house hold? Did your parents play music around the house?
Not a musical household but my dad played Miles Davis & Curtis Mayfield records and lots of free jazz while my mom played Elvis & Neil Sedaka. My brother rocked Elton John and my sister played the Bay City Rollers, Boston & Peter Frampton. However what I remember liking and listening to the most was Heatwave & Boz Scaggs that my other brother from out of town played when he moved to Seattle when I was around 8 years old.
When did hip hop enter your life?
1981 when I took a summer vacation to NYC. I witnessed breakdancing for the very time and was hooked
At what point did you decide you wanted to be a DJ?
August 10th 1984. I went to see the Treacherous 3 and DJ Ez Lee was cutting up doubles of some record, spinning around and scratching etc. I was floored. I had to learn that!
What was the Seattle scene like in those days?
It was a lot of fun we were just kids running a muck. Skipping school meeting downtown to battle each other breakdancing, carrying boom boxes around, tagging up etc.
How did Conception Records come about? What was your involvement?
It came about after me and Sureshot got our record deal with instinct. Being a producer I wanted my own label to release the stuff I was doing. I owned the label and was the in house producer. I started the label together with SureShot & Strath Sheppard.
When did you first start collecting records?
I've always liked and bought records since the age of 4. I used to use my allowance to hit the record store. I used to ride my bike to the record store in my teens to buy records and when I got my drivers license I got a job delivering pizzas and at nights end had a pocket full of cash from all my tips. I'd go to Tower records every single night because they were opened until midnight and i'd spend my money I had made on records. There was no rap section then you had to dig to find it in the soul section. I always bought anything I seen on the Profile & Def jam label even if I didn't know what it was because I knew it had to be good. Mind you at this point I was just another consumer not a record collector. I recall one day I came home and could barely walk into my room because of the the record collection I had built over the years. I was still not a collector I just bought what I liked. I've always done such. I really wouldn't consider or call my self a collector until the early 90s. I noticed certain records i'd see everyday starting to dry up like all the Blue Note and CTI stuff. Stores would tell me how some Japanese and British customers had just left and bought them all. At that point I thought I better start buying stuff up if I want it or it's not going to be around any longer. It was then I had to break my $8 a record spending budget and started buying $15 to $20 records. The first record I paid a grip for and was sick about it was a mint og Skull Snaps lp for $75 around '93 and I thought i'd lost my mind.
How many records are in your collection at this point? How are they organized?
I don't count them but I keep adding to it and get rid of some from time to time as well but i'd say around the 50,000 mark. They were in perfect immaculate alphabetical order until my friend Gene Brown came to stay with me over ten years ago. I woke up one morning and he had them out all over the place going through them. Then I moved a few times and forget about it. There's no rhyme or reason to the order and it's kaos.
What other sorts of things do you collect?
Blaxploitation posters & memorabilia, board games, lunch boxes, acton figures, art, boom boxes, sneakers, hats, jackets, bicycles, toys, movies, tape reels, magazines, trading cards, sunglasses, turntables, mixers, anything funky
Has Serato changed the way you play records out?
Whats the worst thing to happen to you at a gig?
I got vertigo really bad one night. I was trying to hold my self up with my hands on the wall while dj'n and vomitting all at the same time. It felt like the club was on a wave and spinning in circles.
How do you deal with requests?
I just say yes to get them to go away. If they continue to come back I tell them I played it you didn't hear it?!
Have you been involved in any reissue projects?
Yes Lialeh, Dolemite, Wayne McGhie, T.L. Barrett, Wheedles Groove, Status Breaks, and others I don't recall off the top of my head.
How did the Weedles Groove compilations come about?
I met with the owner of the Light in the Attic label for lunch one day and he asked me if I could re release anything what would it be. I said all these Seattle funk 45s I have
We're the artists you reached out to receptive to the project?
9 out of ten were. LOL
How is the scene in Seattle now?
I think it's great and it's highlight. A lot of the funk guys have reunited and are playing out again, rappers are winning grammys, producers are doing major label stuff, there's some real talent here right now the best it's ever been.
Where do you see DJ culture headed?
Lots of new technology so you'd think that people would get very creative but most are getting lazier. I think the og culture as we know it will always be around as long as long as true djs preserve it. I've got three out of town bookings just today to play VINYL only parties. I love and embrace technology but at days end it's how creative you can get with it. Some djs kill it with the stuff they can do with controllers but with that being said most don't. The culture is very popular right now and i'm sure will birth some new super star djs and I support that to the fullest.
What are you listening to these days? Does current music appeal to you?
I listen to the same stuff now I did 10-20 years ago. Classics never die and there is no expiration date on good music. If you find a record from the 70s that you've never heard before it's new to you no matter the date it was released. I don't like new popular music. Mind you I didn't say new I said new and popular. Pop (ular) music is awful. There's tons of new music I love.
What makes a good DJ great?
When all's said and done the art of selection trumps anything else
What's next for you?
Continuing to do what I do to represent and keep the true culture alive for as long as I can while being the best person I can be for my family, friends and self
Supreme La Rock posing with five of our Rich Medina 45 bags. Keep up with him on twitter, facebook, on his website, and on Hot Peas and Butta
The new book Son of the City: A Memoir by Dante Ross, is the first release by the new author. Preorder is in limited supply and available now
When Victrola introduced the Revolution Go turntable to me and asked if we would be interested in trying one out, I was game, but these days I spend more time at my desk than hunting for records in dusty basements.