Pushing the Needle: An Interview With DJ and Producer J. Rocc

Photo courtesy of J. Rocc. Used with permission.

As one of the most revered figures in the Los Angeles DJ scene, J. Rocc rightfully earned his title as "The Funky President" for his dizzying scratch and beat-juggling routines. Rocc is a true standout among today's DJs—his eclectic sound skillfully blends funky hip-hop with elements pulled from various genres. His remarkable skill to push the needle has earned him a well-deserved standing as one of the most innovative, gifted, and multi-faceted beatmakers in the industry.

J. Rocc
J. Rocc. Photo courtesy of the artist. Used with permission.

He is a founding member of influential Beat Junkies crew and with his associates—including Babu, Shortkut and D-Styles—helped fuel their current success as a collective. What began as a group of turntablists and music enthusiasts has blossomed into a subscription-based record pool, providing DJs with exclusive access to the crew's ever-growing collection of edits and remixes. With a staggering 60k+ MP3s to their name and counting, the Beat Junkies have become tastemakers in their own right, consistently innovating new techniques and styles that have earned them the respect of their peers and fans everywhere.

Since the early 2000s, J. Rocc has pushed his ethos further through the releases of various mixtapes and production work on Stones Throw Records. As Madlib's right-hand man, he joined forces with the producer's duo with J Dilla, Jaylib, during their live performances. His continued advocacy for his labelmates has led him to become as synonymous with Stones Throw as his friend and label founder Peanut Butter Wolf.

Not content in simply resting as a beat-juggling battle routine DJ, Rocc has been ascending the electronic producer's ladder with increasing momentum since releasing his first solo album Some Cold Rock Stuf in 2011. His debut album set the ideal score for cruising through hazy, sunny southern California. It's saturated with gritty and heavy-hitting drums combined with brilliant scratching on par with DJ Premier’s work—showcasing a level of sample proficiency rarely seen in today's production landscape. His creative use of samples, chops, and original tracks between classic boom-bap and modern electronic sounds places Rocc in an elite group of producers.

In recent years, J. Rocc has continued to push the envelope with his music, collaborating with a wide range of talented musicians and producers to create distinct, unforgettable tracks that fuse funk, West Coast swag, and classic hip-hop vibes. But it was only during the pandemic that he truly came into his own as a producer, releasing not one, but two critically acclaimed albums: A Wonderful Letter and Beatitudes.

On A Wonderful Letter, J. produces a passionate ode to his hometown of Los Angeles, paying homage to his city's vibrant and diverse music scene. He blends soulful R&B, electro, new wave, and hip-hop instrumentals into a glorious whole, offering up an incredible array of tracks featuring collaborations with funk legends like Steve Arrington and TR-808 wizard Egyptian Lover.

His latest offering, Beatitudes, is a testament to the power of the harmonious fusion of gospel and hip-hop. The album is a 10-track, soulful exploration of the rich cultural heritage of these two genres. Inspired by 20th-century gospel recordings and the groovy rhythms of jazz, Beatitudes is a stunning display of J. Rocc's deft hand in chopping samples. Across both albums, J. Rocc demonstrated an impressive range and versatility as a producer, cementing his status as one of hip-hop's most innovative and forward-thinking minds.

While he reclined in front of his magnificent vinyl collection, our conversation flowed freely about his latest projects, his quest for the perfect turntable needles, AI-driven audio stem software, and other DJ tech innovations. We also dove into the legacy that his close friend and collaborator J Dilla left behind, as well as his work with fellow beat conductor Madlib on various albums.

Take us back to that first mixer purchase. What was the young J. Rocc rocking back in those days?

Ah, man. Lil' J. Rocc was rocking the Realistic Radio Shack mixer. I forgot the model number, but they had two—I had both models. They had one model that was just all up faders, and then they had another model that actually had a crossfader. So, those are my first mixers that I had. Then eventually, I saved up and got a Gemini Jazzy Jeff edition mixer. Numark used to make these real dope mixers called the 1150. That was it. After I got one of those, I think I finally tuned in and got real good DJing, when I got that 1150 because it was just so DJ-friendly. Every other mixer had some type of disco DJing, not really scratching, really just blends. They all had some type of thing that would hold you back from really cutting it up, or doing doubles, or something like that. So, by the time I got to the 1150, probably about '87, '88, when I finally got one of those, it was a wrap. It was like, "Oh, okay, this is how you get better. That's how you gonna do it."

When and how did the Beat Junkies crew form?

In about '92. Really '91, '90, I started meeting a lot of the Beat Junkies individually, first Rhettmatic. I met another guy, DJ Curse and the guy DJ What?!, and we all met, and then they, of course had homies, Melo-D, Babu, and then everybody just formed Voltron, but it was more or less just... We all DJ'ed the same spots and started becoming friends. Then, I was like, "Yo, let's just start..." Everybody back then you had a crew, so, "Let's start a crew. We need to start a crew. Beat Junkies. All right."

Then that's just how it was. After that, just everybody started entering battles. The thing was, I think that really helped the crew out was everybody was dope individually, so it was like they always repped Beat Junkies, and it was, "So-and-so from the Beat Junkies," and so it always helped the name grow even more.

Take us back to some of the first Beat Junkie residencies, if you will. Would you usually share the same bill? Or was it somebody had a night here, somebody had a night there?

Nah, it was mostly, we all were at the same club. I don't remember if we had four turntables back then on the set. We probably just had two, and vinyl. So, we would just be able to have a nice crate of vinyl with us, and we would just go back and forth, go one for one, or two for two, or something.

So, it was a friendly competition between us. We [played] mostly whatever was out at the time, '90s hip-hop. I mean we played all the new stuff from A Tribe Called Quest, to Black Sheep, to what we consider classics now. So, we played all that type of stuff, and a lot of R&B, a lot of funk. That was— that's real big out here in LA was the funk— Zapp, and... Parliament Funkadelic and Dazz Band.

All that stuff was real popping still. You could go to the club and people actually wanted to hear that more than the new hip-hop. There was always a point in the night when they were just like, "Oop, it is midnight, it's only funk now, all the hip-hop is done." So, if you played hip-hop, you weren't going to be able to DJ anymore. So, we just had that club. Then we did another club where we had two rooms where one room was all the R&B, and then the other room was the hip-hop stuff. That's when we really, really got in tune with being Beat Junkies. I think that was the turning point for as far as a crew, because we had our own little hip-hop room where we could have three turntables, and someone could scratch, and someone could mix while we're doing that. I think that's when it really, really, like, "All right. This is going to be the crew right here. This is it."

So, from that time period, how did you link up with Peanut Butter Wolf?

That's from Beat Junkies, man, that's from Babu. He was friends with Wolf. I forgot how he knew Wolf, but he was supposed to do some scratches on a project, and he was like, "Yo man, this guy Peanut Butter Wolf asked me to do some scratches on something. Can you go with me and do them with me?" I was like, "All right, I guess."

That was my first meeting with Wolf. Then I used to do a radio show on Power 106. So, he would send me all the new Stones Throw records as they came out, the test presses for Quasimoto. The first records he was putting out early, early. From there we just became homies, and kept in touch. I've just known Wolf forever. He's always been a type of person that, if he likes your stuff, he'll put it out. From DāM-FunK to Mayor Hawthorne.

It's just something he hears and he's like, "Oh, I'll put it out. I don't care if it's not commercially what's going on right now." He has always been into quirky (music), I guess is the word. He's always had his own taste, and he is always been real supportive of underground artists trying to make it. Even now he has Sudan Archives, and Mile High Club, and he has all these other groups you're like, "All right, where you find all these people?" They're just people he just meets.

You were the de facto third member of Jaylib (J. Dilla and Madlib), how did that come about?

I just ended up being down. They were on our radio show, and this was before the album was done. It was about to come out, and Madlib and Dilla came to the radio show, and Dilla heard me DJing while the interview's going on. They're doing the interview, and I was usually the guy in the back playing the instrumentals. I would do what we would call the tribute mix, and we would play all their catalog at the moment that we had, and I would play Dilla samples. So, he was hearing me play all these samples and like, "Yo, wait a minute, who's telling them that I sampled that? Yo Yo. Yeah. Hey man, yo, yo, no, no." He was just going crazy on the mic.

Then after that show we exchanged numbers. I was already friends with Madlib, I was already cool with Madlib, so he was just telling Madlib like, "Yo, we need a DJ and your boy J. Rocc is pretty nice with it, we should get him to DJ for us." Then Otis (Madlib) was like, "Yeah, all right, ain't nothing, that's cool." Then they told me and I was like, "yeah, well, shit, heck yeah. I'mma DJ for y'all, man, y'all, both of y'all." I was already a Dilla fan at that point. Yeah, I DJ'ed for all their shows.

Jaylib "No Games" performed live at Conga Room 2004.

Even when they had solo shows, Dilla would hit me up, "Yo, I got to do this XYZ, on such-and-such and date, can you come with me and DJ with me?" Or Madlib had solo shows, so I still would do separate shows with him. But yeah, that's how it all started, just from being on the radio and then Dilla hearing me, and he got hyped and then that was it. That was the end of that. That's all he wrote. It was time to go.

And that led to a studio working relationship with Madlib to this very day, I assume?

Oh, a hundred percent.

To my understanding you collaborated on several Beat Konducta albums. What's it like working with Madlib in the studio?

He's just a nut man. He was just always working, and he would just... If I was around when he was making beats, I wouldn't disturb him or nothing. I would just be in my corner listening, and he would just make the stuff, and then give me a CD. "Yo, this is what we're going to do, add some scratches to this." Then I would come home and load up Pro Tools, and then just do all the scratches on Pro Tools, and then send it back to him. Or, not even send him the Pro Tools sessions. I would basically almost mix it down, and just give him what I did.

Then if he had a complaint, or if he had something he wanted me to change, I would change it. But I don't think there was ever anything that he had... I don't think he ever said anything like, "Hey, yo, change the scratch here, or I can't use that." He's just an easy dude to work with. He knew I wasn't going to fuck shit up and be real wack. He knew I was going to add some flavor to it. So, he trusted my judgment. Definitely trusted my judgment with it. But yeah, it's always a pleasure working with him. Always super fun times, man. Especially that Dill Cosby one, that was a fun one to work on. 'Cause that was for the homie.


He was like, "Yo, this is for the homie. I'm going to do this one. This is the Dilla one." I was like, "All right, we go do it, then. I'll get a bunch of stuff, and we'll get it popping." But yeah, he is a nice guy to work with, man. He is a mad man. He got so many beats, I mean, there's been times where he's been like, "You choose the beats, which ones are on here?" I'll be like, "All right, how am I going to do that?" "I don't know which beats, you just pick them, put them in order." I even sequence stuff. I would sequence certain projects, but I think most of the projects that I'm on, I would say I sequenced for the most part. Unless he already had it all mapped out, and I just hit play and just let the whole thing go. But I think there's been a few times where I would move stuff around and add little interludes, or scratches, or talking, or whatever it was. But yeah, I did a lot of stuff, man.

You ended up coming across Dilla's Moog Voyager?


Over the course of a few years, there's been a lot of conjecture in the Eurorack scene about J Dilla. A lot of Eurorack users are hardcore fans of Dilla, and a lot of them like to get on the message boards and say things like “if Dilla were alive, he would totally be into Eurorack”. But then when I saw you talking about how much he loved his Moog Voyager, and then also learning how much of a clean freak Dilla was, I personally don't believe that he would've been into Eurorack. But what's your take on that?

(Laughing) I think he would've been into it, if he knew how to work it. If he knew what it did, and the sounds it would create. I'm sure he messed with the one in Electric Ladyland, or some studio like that, that had it already set up for him. Would you consider the TONTO one of those?


Oh, okay. So, yeah, I mean who wouldn't want to play on TONTO? You know what I'm saying? So, I think he would've dug it. He just loved that Moog Voyager so much, just because it added so much flavor to his beats. There's a whole run of beats that he did. I used to always say to him like, "Damn Dilla, when I think it's a sample, it's you playing, and then when I think it's you playing, it's a sample." He's always like, "Ah man, J..."

But it would be that it was that Voyager that he was using on all that stuff. When he got it back out here to LA, he was so hyped, because he didn't have any of that stuff. He just had a sampler, his MPC, and records. He didn't have any keyboards or anything here. He had that... What is that, the MicroKorg? The one with the little microphone that would come out, and you could do the fake talk box?

Yeah. The MicroKorg.

He had one of those. I think he used that a few times, but not the big daddy, not that Voyager. Yeah, I think he would've been into it though, because we were all TONTO heads anyway, at that point, buying the TONTO solo album. So, he's a keyboard freak. So, if he knew that was possible, and if he could use one, a hundred percent, he would be down. He would love it.

Wow. Well, I'm glad I got a more experienced point of view.

Yeah. Those are dope. That's what he was sampling. [Isao] Tomita and what's the other dude… I can't even pronounce it, Vangelis or something like that. He was sampling all that stuff anyway. Synergy (Larry Fast)... But in those days, if you had a Voyager, you was in the house anyway, so you could tweak the sounds, and add whatever you needed to do to that keyboard at that time.

I see you sitting in front of the wall of vinyl, of course. I'm certain that you're still out doing vinyl sets. What's turntable needle are you using now? 'Cause I know you used to be on Shure, and Shure ain't making needles any more.

No, they're not, man. I'm on these needles. I use... Shit, it depends on what I'm doing. There's these needles from Japan, dude's name is Taruya. Homie from Japan that makes needles.

So, he makes five different models. He makes a Serato model, he makes an audiophile model, he makes a scratch model, he makes another good record model. He makes a white one, black one, red one, blue one. It has like five different... I bought all of them. I've bought every single model just to test it out.

I use Jicos, the other company from Japan that puts out needles. Then, Pioneer made a needle with a Japanese company. Nagoya, they made one too, and [ADC] PSX 10. Those are pretty good, too.

I digitize a lot of records, so, I'm always looking for a needle that isn't adding too much sibilance and I don't like needles that add all that. So, I try to find the flattest needle when I'm digitizing. Then when I'm DJing, I use those other needles. The ones from Japan, the homie out there, Taruya, I use those. So, I go back and forth a lot. Home, strictly digitize. If I got practice, I use the Jico, they're fake [Shure] M44-7's, the Jico twelves that go with that. Then if I'm out, I'm usually using the Japanese needle, just because there's no wires where I'm worried if I hit one, "Oh man, it's only one speaker now," there's none of that.

It's just plug, screw in, and you're ready to go. They don't do as much record burn. You're not getting as many as much record burn from them doing doubles, and it's friendlier for your records. Definitely, that's why I like those, because they're record friendly. They're definitely record friendly. But those Jico's are pretty nice, too. Those are pretty good, too. But the Japanese dude, he's expensive, but boy, they're well worth it, man. They're beautiful needles, and they sound good.

I feel you. So, how does it feel to witness this advancement of DJ technology? Obviously, you use Serato, but you've been around well before the days of Serato, well before the days of Rekordbox and the CDJs. So, how does it feel to witness where things have gotten to at this point?

Man, everybody wants to be a DJ, man. That's what it boils down to. It's just everybody wants to express themselves on these turntables. I like it. Hey, it just helps the advancement of my career for the most part. It helps me out too, so I can't hate on it. I wouldn't want to have to still lug around records all the time on gigs. Even I love CDJs. I ain't mad at those either because I could just show up with a little USB drive and some headphones. I've done it a few times where I almost can't even get into the club because they're like, "Where's your stuff?" I'm like, "I am. My stuff's right here, headphones, here's my jump drive. Let's go." "Oh, hold on, we got to call the promoter. We don't believe you." "Come on man. I'm here to DJ," and there'll be people in there... "Yo, that's J. Rocc, man, you got to let him in." "Nah, hold on, man. He ain't got nothing. You just got USB and headphones. He ain't DJing." (laughs)

So, I like being able just to be compact like that, everything's a different style of DJing, though. You're not doing the same thing, you're doing on CDJs that you gonna be doing on turntables. So, every style is different. Even if I have a mixer that's a rotary mixer, and not up and down faders and all that, you gonna mix different.

So, I just like that. I like having that challenge of sometimes going somewhere, showing up and being like, "Oh shit." I don't even have CDJs. The only time that I've learned is when I get thrown into it, I'll show up to a party and they're like, "Oh no man, we CDJs tonight.

Then I just learned as I went, and I was like, fuck it. I'm not the type of DJ to be like, "Ah, I can't DJ on that. That's not my setup." I'm here to rock the party. I'm here to just to play some music. I'm going to still do my best, excuse me if I mess up a few times, but I'm definitely going to try my best still on whatever equipment I got. I love it. I love the tech.

What's your thoughts on all the new stem technology, all the AI-driven technology, especially on platforms like Google being able to use AI to identify samples and whatnot.

Oh yeah, I saw that. Danger. Danger for the heads that chop stuff up, definitely danger. We were just talking about that. Me, Pete [Rock] and Madlib were just talking about the AI, how they found out his sample, and they found the Mobb Deep sample. It sucks for that.

There's always been a website or two that's been on the internet, even in the early '90s that had the breaks, and had the sample for this, and you just had to know where to look on the internet for that. You're like, "Oh shit, these got samples galore. This got every sample from the Jungle Brothers, or every sample De La Soul used." I used to find those, but that was more of an underground thing more than anything.

But now, yeah, it's just everywhere. I think the stems are cool because I use it myself. I can't hate on the stems, and I buy almost every program that comes out that says stems, just so I can see the difference. Which one's better, and which one does what better. Some will do acapellas better, some will do instrumentals better.

What is your preferred ranking of stem extractor software right now, if you don't mind me asking?

I think number one for me is RipX. RipX is probably one of the best ones. I like RipX just because I'm not a keyboard player. So, I like it because it shows you the key of everything. I could mute and solo the bass, and then the bass will just be on the screen and it'll show me, it'll have the 88-keys on the side, and it'll show me what notes that bass is, and I can be on my keyboard, be like, "boom, boom, boom, ba boom, boom.” I could figure it out with that. I like RipX. Stemverter, I like Stemverter. That's another one. I just got into that one.

I thought I was keeping track. I hadn't even heard of these.

There's too many! It comes out every week. There's always a new one. Then what's the other one, damn, there's so many. Yeah, I mean I started with the Izotope. Izotope was one of the first ones like, "Oh shit, they do it. Oh, I could do it through my Ableton and like, oh man, this is the one right here." Then... once I found RipX and Stemverter, those are the two top ones for me. Definitely they both, hands down the cleanest ones I've used so far, unless there's another one.

But the thing with that is, I wish I could program, I should learn how to program, I should say, because it's a free program anyway. It's not like, you know, if you know how to do [coding], and you know how to do your I's and O's, you can program it yourself and make your own stem [extractor]. It's just an open source program that all these companies are taking, and then they're getting their own people to build their own little code in there. But it's just an open source program. It's free, if you know where to look.

I've always loved technology. I've always wanted to buy the newest mixer, buy the newest, whatever it is to help out DJing. I've always been into that. Video cameras, all of that stuff. I've always been one of the first out of the Beat Junkies that will buy something new.

I was the first one to go out and get Serato out the crew, and take it to the club and plug in my SL1 box and tell the fellas like, "yo, this Serato, yo, I'm on my computer, man. I got doubles of every record I got, man." They like, "Ah, yeah, whatever man." Then they kept blowing up more and more and like, "Oh, that Serato shit is dope." I've always been a guinea pig. I don't care. I'll try it out. I don't need every stem program, but I've always been buying every stem program since I heard about it, because I get a lot of stems, regular [session] stems, too, from the homies.

They'll give me, say a Michael Jackson session, or here's The Emotions session, or whatever the session is, and I would open it up and you see all the tracks, and you are like, wow, that's so dope. But now that you can do it with any song.I love it.

It seems endless nowadays. With your hunt for new DJ tech, how does that translate to your production and you as a producer? Are you eyeballing any new gear out there, any new samplers? Or what's that process like for you?

I look at it all, man. Every time there's something new, I want to get it, and then I have to talk myself out of not getting it. "No, you already got a sampler, you already got..." I use a MPC Live. I've always been a MPC family. I started off on the Ensoniq EPS-16+. I started off on one of those, and then eventually... It got to the point where you would have to leave it on for it to work. It would have to warm up for so long before it would work. It didn't work cold. You would definitely have to let it chill for about an hour before you can get into it. Then I bought a 2000 XL, and then from there bought the 2500, and then I went out and bought the Ableton, and I was like, "Oh, you can make beats on Ableton? Oh, that's cool. I'll try that out."

Then I bought that, then I bought the first Live MPC Touch, and then they came out with the Live and I was like, "Oh, forget this touch. I don't want to hook up my computer every time I want to make a beat." I'd just rather just plug in my turntables to the sampler, and sample and get everything ready in there, and then open Ableton or Pro Tools and then lay it down in there and add my cuts or add my bass lines or whatever. I'll add that to those programs. But the first part of the beat is always on the MPC. Depending on what it is, if it's a chop... Loop is easy on Ableton, you can loop all day, but chopping is always easier for me on the MPC. It's always been an easier thing to do on that.

These last two albums you just dropped in the last two years...the newest being Beatitudes, this is all gospel samples. Am I correct on that?

Yeah, all gospel chops and loops and samples, all of it. Everything's a gospel record.

"The Best" by J. Rocc from his 2023 album Beatitudes.

Who did the cover? What inspired that cover for Beatitudes?

The cover is inspired by a gentleman named Harvey Scott Williams. Back in the day, Savoy Records. They used to put out a lot of gospel records, but a lot of their covers were painted by one gentleman. He did over about 600, 300 to 600 covers of just paintings. I told Jeff Chank, the art director over at Stones Throw my idea, like, "Yo, I want to do a cover that looks like one of these Harvey record covers." So, he just got that inspiration and made something that looked just like one of the Harvey covers for me. It looks just like one of those old Savoy Gospel records. So, yeah, that was just something I wanted to do.

I had no other ideas like, man, if I'm going to make a gospel record or gospel beats, I wanted to have, one; I'm making sure I don't have no cussing on there, just in case. Then number two; I wanted to make it look authentic, like some old 1960's gospel record that would look like back in the day. So, yeah, that was all my man, Jeff, he just thought finally put it together for me. He did a great job, man. It definitely looks like Harvey. I think someone's working on a book, a gentleman, Greg Belson, I think he's working on a Harvey book getting all their album covers together. It's an interesting story, man. He was mysterious forever. No one knew who he was. People thought it was one person doing three different things, and the label owner, thought it was the guy that pressed it, no one knew who it was.

So, finally, I think people are finding out who this guy was and yeah, they're making a book about his life and with all the album covers that he's painted throughout the years, I don't even think they have the real paintings anymore. I think they got so old that they got destroyed. But yeah, that was the inspiration by that cover.

You dropped A Wonderful Letter in 2022. It seems like that album was more like your version of Dr. Dre’s The Chronic, if you will, in the way that you featured lot of artists.

(laughs) Yeah.

It was a very obvious ode to the city that raised you. Just talk about making that album, man, and everything that was happening with you at that time.

I was just hardcore through the whole pandemic, just working on that album. Even a little bit before the pandemic, I was working on the album. It's just, you're your own worst critic. So, I was all, "Oh, ah nan, nan, this beat. Nah, nah, this beat. Nah." Like I was always doing that to myself.

Then, once again, Peanut Butter Wolf, "Man, you ain't going to put out another album? You ain't going to do another album? You ain't going to do another album?" He would say that where we're touring and, "Man, you should really should put out another album." Then finally I was like, "All right, let me get my act together. I got a label that's down to put out. Not everyone has that opportunity, so let me just get my act together and focus." So, I just sat down and really focused and picked out beats, and made a list of homies that I knew that I could ask.

A few people just were so busy, or just forgot about it, that they never got back to me. I didn't take any offense to that. I was like, "Everybody's busy, so ain't no big deal." But I just reached out to the homies, and they were like, "Okay, we're down." They recorded their parts, and then I would come back here, and add the scratches and build around their raps, and maybe even redo the beat a little bit, or... So, I was doing a lot of that with that project, and it was dope just to have Steve Arrington.

I was going to say that it's dope to have Steve Arrington as a homie.

Come on, man. Like listening to Slave as a little kid, I would've never thought of having him. Actually that song that I did on my album, we did it first on his album on Stones Throw. I was taking so long with my album that they're like, "we're just going to use it for his album." I'm like, "Okay." Then when it came time to my album it was like, "I'm going to use that again, but I'll remix it a little bit. I'm going to change the drums a little bit, and then add some weird shit at the end." But it just came to be like that, I just gave them... So, even the gospel batch that I just put out almost had him singing on those. I'm like, "Ah, I don't hear Steve singing on this stuff, man." Wolf was like, "Ah, no, you should give these to Steve and let him see what he can do with them, and let him sing on these."

I'm like, "Damn, Wolf, I don't see Steve on these ones, man, but I'll make a batch for Steve." But an Egyptian Lover, having him on the record, another homie, people that... Just people that I just became homies with that I feel like, "Yo, I really would love to have you on my album." I was even about to reach out to De La Soul, but I was like, "Nah, those guys are probably super busy." There's like a couple people that I wanted, even some females. I really was trying to get a couple ladies on the album just to even out the male balance, all the males on there, but everybody was busy. So, my next one, I'm going to just go try to get... If I have guests, it's just going to be all ladies, no males, none of that whatsoever. Just the dude. No dudes on the next one.

I can picture the pure essence of the ‘80s LA electro scene, with the Pajama Party record with you and Egyptian Lover. What was it like making that track with him? Was that all his TR-808 on the beat?

No, that was me. I just programmed the whole beat. That's just another one of the homies, where I do scratches for him at times. He'll call me sometimes be like, "J. Rocc, you know you're old school, you need to come over here and listen to this right now, and give me your opinion." He values my opinion. I'm like, "Damn, this is Egyptian Lover." It's someone I grew up listening to and made me want to do what I'm doing even more.

So, I give him that respect all the time. So, anytime he calls me for something, I'm there for him. Then one day I just like, "Yo." I just got the courage up and was like, "Yo, E, I really would like to have you on my album." He's like, "Okay, I'll do that. Next time I go to the studio, I'll record it."

"Pajama Party" by J. Rocc and Egyptian Lover from his 2022 album A Wonderful Letter.

He don't do home studio. No, no, no, no, no, no. That brother is at the real studio, with the reel to reels. But he is getting real studio time. I think right now, he's been using Eminem's old studio in Burbank. So, he goes to real studios. One time, he was at Michael Jackson's old studio. So, yeah, when he finally got some studio time, he just called me up one day and said, "Hey, I'm laying down the vocals for that track right now." I'm like, "Okay." I think I ran over there just real quick, just to listen to him. Then he just, "I have my dude email 'em to you, and then you do what you do."

He emailed 'em back, and I just did what I did. Then I added all the scratches around it, and moved things around so I could have a breakdown. Because he just gave me straight rap and no breaks. Like, he broke it up into verses, but I just stretched it out a little bit longer because I was like, "Man, I got to have a proper Egyptian Lover track. Got to have a breakdown, got to have some cowbells, got to have the breathing, got to have the scratching."

It's a LA electro, but then also all the scratches and stuff are really influenced by the 2 Live Crew era. Mr. Mix and all of the cuts he used to do back in the day on the old 2 Live Crew records. But yeah, it's just a shock to get Egyptian Lover. Those two right there are like, "Wow, you really got two of the dopest OGs on your album, you understand? That's Steve Arrington, and that's Egyptian Lover." Yeah, I definitely trip out on that and I'm very thankful that those guys... I can call them the homies, and they actually came through. It's super dope, man. I respect those guys fully, man. So dope.

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