Interview: DJ Green Lantern Sheds Light On Current EDM/Hip-Hop Relations
Before Hudson Mohawke was enlisted by Kanye to help out on Yeezus or Datsik brought Wu Tang Clan’s GZA out on his ‘Digital Assassins’ tour, an aspiring DJ was tapped by a young Slim Shady to bring his unique production stylings to the Eminem brand. That DJ was DJ Green Lantern (born James D’Agostino), who was always one step ahead of the game by taking risks that would later be followed and replicated by the music masses. Starting with an “Invasion” mixtape series, D’Agostino would eventually invade the entire hip-hop industry working and producing with the likes of Busta Rhymes, Ludacris, 50 Cent and Ghostface Killah. Now he has a new remix out on Ultra Music with Valentino Khan and Iggy Azalea, which still breaks barriers thanks to the DJ’s unique style and samplings.
VIBE: You first came into the spotlight after dropping your “Invasion” mixtape series on Eminem’s Shady Records in 2002. How would you say your music and production skills have changed since then?
DJ Green Lantern: Since then, 12 years ago, I guess just expanding sounds like I feel everyone should. If you stay making that same beat in ’14 that you made in ’02, I personally feel it’s not progress. I get bored making the same stuff – that’s just me though .
What was is like working with the ‘Rap God’ at the time?
Touring with Em was really, really cool. He’s a consummate pro and a perfectionist at his craft. Learned a lot about showmanship and controlling crowds from watching him. One of the greats.
What are your personal thoughts on his new album, The Marshall Mathers LP 2?
I haven’t had a chance to hear the whole thing but what I heard was dope and he tied some story lines in from the MMLP 1 in nicely .
You’ve had some new material of your own drop recently: a remix of “Know About Me” featuring Iggy Azalea and Valentino Khan. How did this collaboration come about in the first place?
I was touring with Nas in Europe last year, and Iggy was performing at some of the shows. I ended up doing an official remix to her song “Bounce,” which was received really well. I like working with her vocals, because she has a confident tone that stands out when you build music around it.
Valentino Khan is the homie and an incredible electronic producer, so that was just a no-brainer to add him into the mix on the song. He added some really dope elements to it from where I had it originally. Look out for him, he’s on the rise.
What was your mindset going into making this track?
I was going for literally some marching band trap music with feel good elements to it along with some trance in the chord sections with some big percussion elements in there to off-set it.
Obviously you’ve been in the hip-hop game for a while, working with pretty much everyone in that genre. Which artist would you say has made the biggest impression on you and why?
Gotta be Nas. Being on the road with him album after album, seeing him just do him musically and not care what anyone thinks, that’s so inspiring for a producer/DJ who’s now labeled an artist. When I wanna say “F the world” and try something completely left field, I look to him as someone who does that on a regular basis.
Are there any ‘EDM’ acts you’d be interested in collaborating with as well?
There’s so many dope electronic artists out there that I want to work with, and have started to. To choose someone I haven’t working with yet, I would say right now it’s Dillon Francis and Mr. Carmack. Dillon for that high energy and Carmack for the stripped-down, grimey feel. Yeah, those guys are ill.
Being a pioneer in bridging the genre gap between electronic music and hip-hop, what are your thoughts/comments on how much it has evolved today? (aka Daft Punk’s collaboration with Pharrell, Borgore’s with Waka Flocka, Skrillex with A$AP Rocky, etc.)
It’s evolved so much past the pioneering moments to whole projects devoted to bridging that gap. It’s really dope what’s happening since I’ve always been a fan of bringing stuff together that might sound different individually but work great together. That’s what I did all those years, but it was just called “blends” back then.
It seems the year was the year for new albums, with Drake, Jay-Z, Kanye, Beyoncé and Eminem all dropping new material. What would you say are your top five new albums from 2013?
1. Pusha T, My Name Is My Name
2. Janelle Monae, The Electric Lady
3. Disclosure, Settle
4. J. Cole, Born Sinner
5. Pretty Lights, A Color Map Of The Sun
Now, in honor of Oscar season, let’s throw out a non-music related question. What’s your favorite movie of all time and why?
I gotta say Beat Street. I was a kid when it came out and it captured a moment when hip-hop was just taking shape, from a musical standpoint but also culturally. That movie grabbed me and stuck with me my whole life. There’s plenty of great movies that I really love, but I hold a special place for that joint right there.