After winning not one, not two, but three DMC World DJ championships in consecutive years starting in 1998—a feat that’s never been repeated—it would’ve been easy to pigeon-hole DJ Craze as just a superstar turntablist and hip-hop jock. But the Miami-based Craze started spinning and producing drum ‘n’ bass, becoming a fixture on the worldwide rave circuit. Like a crafty chameleon, Craze evolved his style again a few years ago, mixing up genres and party-rocking without abandoning the technical skills he spent years perfecting. His new compilation album, “Fabriclive 38,” reflects the Craze-of-the-moment, with Miami bass, old-school freestyle, electro and booty house blended seamlessly into an energetic mix. “Fabric was like, ‘You can do whatever you want,’ and that’s what I came up with,” Craze says. “I want to play what I like right now.”
Translation: there’s no easy way to place the album’s tracks into a nice package that fits on a specific shelf, and that’s a good thing. Craze goes from the throwback hip-hop of Chicago’s Cool Kids to the filtered house of Treasure Fingers’ “Cross the Dancefloor,” before shifting into truly old-school, courtesy of a classic Earth, Wind & Fire interlude, over a bottom-heavy beat. While skipping around the musical map, Craze connects the dots with some ridiculous scratching that shows he knows both musicality and the technical side of being a DJ.
“When I spin, I spin all kinds of shit,” he says. “A lot of people are doing the whole mash-up thing and the editing thing, but they don’t really cover it well. I can play everything and I’m a scratch guy, so the way I mix is like a turntablist.”
So after blowing up the DMC’s and killing all kinds of dance floors, what’s next for Craze? “I want to get my production to a point where I can make an album and make it sound like something fresh. It would be an album for everybody. Like on the Fabric mix, it was a good mixture of everything, and, man, I hate to sound like a bitch, but I think I did it well.” (Al de Leon)
DJ Craze joins Danny The Wildchild and residents Chris Santiago, Dysqo and E&G at Zentra, 923 West Weed, (312)787-0400, on February 22 from 10pm-4am. Rsvp to zentranightclub.com for free admission before 11pm, $10 from 11pm-midnight, $15 after.