The first thing that struck me about Zajazza (when I met him for my introductory DJ lesson) was the ease with which he played music. It didn’t matter if he was showing you how to do a baby scratch or a complicated routine, the moment his hands hit vinyl, magic began. The next thing I noticed, was the reverence with which he touched a record. He gave records the same respect anyone else would give a bar of gold. I spent my first class watching him work his spells to create something special and thought, let’s go home now, this looks insanely difficult.
But it was his patience and commitment to share his love for music that had me hooked from the second I stepped through the door. Fast forward a few months and it was time for my graduation. He had just had a major knee surgery but he showed up to my final class without a care in the world. If he was in pain, nobody knew it but him. He looked at me with encouragement as I stepped behind the decks and I recorded my first live set.
Fast forward a couple of years and I was back to learn more. But this time it was a much deeper journey…a musical quest. He mentored me on the elements that make a good DJ. It starts with having a genuine love for music. Every note has the power to cast a spell on your audience but nothing can substitute hard work. After a decade of being a DJ, he still practices for hours (every single day) and regularly signs up for classes in NYC. You never reach the finish line and that’s what keeps you hungry for more.
The most valuable lesson was to really feel the music and follow your passion. Unless you can connect with music how can you make anyone else connect to it? And what better way to do that than to follow the Vagabond Road and travel as much as you can. This is exactly what inspired his latest album.
He recently teamed up with another Hip-Hop globetrotter, iLLspokinn, and produced Vagabond Road, a spontaneous, intense EP that takes you on a musical road trip. This EP was recorded between New-York and Lyon, mixed in Brazil and mastered in Paris. All the tracks reflect iLLspokinn and Zajazza’s personal and shared journeys, from rap to jazz, from boom bap to Latin and African music. All this musical richness is captured in samples and spiced up with scratching and conscious lyrics. The whole thing is driven by Zajazza’s stunning beats. You can listen to it here.