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A Conversation with the Ubiquitous, Enigmatic DJ TIIIIIIIIIIP

The Twin Cities' busiest DJ slows down to chat about his recent rebrand.

The Twin Cities' busiest DJ slows down to chat about his recent rebrand.

Taylor Madrigal is the beast with 10 I's.

The 24-year-old DJ/producer/Basil Presents promoter was once the mastermind behind local collective Audio Perm, but he's since rebranded as DJ TIIIIIIIIIIP. In the year following his re-christening, Madrigal has planted himself on just about every hip-hop bill in the Twin Cities, manning the tables for everyone from Travi$ Scott to First Ave's weekly DEQUEXATRON X000 hip-hop night to, uh, Shaggy en route to becoming the hottest warm-up act in the scene.

Even so, the admittedly timid northeast Minneapolis native is still something of an enigma. TIIIIIIIIIIP is only billed for about half the sets he actually plays, and he often shows up on the 1s and 2s without even announcing himself. "I'm not a normal motherfucker," he tells Gimme Noise during a recent sit-down at Uptown's Caffetto, "I don't like to get on the mic and talk at my shows." Still, we got the up-and-coming party starter to open up about being the go-to DJ for the Stand4rd, his rumored involvement with Kanye West, and the origins of his odd, flyer-hogging moniker.

So, how did you get your strange-ass name?

DJ TIIIIIIIIIIP: People have been calling me Tip or Tippy for my whole life. That was my nickname. I didn't want to use my real name anymore. I did Taylor Madrigal with Audio Perm, but back then, I had a different approach to music altogether. It's a lot different now, I've been doing some weird shit, and nothing is really normal with what we do. We try to do shit differently.

Is there a reason why you settled on 10 I's?

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I tried to do seven, but that didn't work with social media shit, so I bumped it up to nine, but I was like, "that's kind of stupid, ten is an even number." I got it from my roommate. My roommate had, I think, two or three. He's a DJ, too, and I was like "damn, that's fresh, what if I add a huge amount?" I love it now.

So how do you say it? Do you pronounce all 10 I's?

Just "tip." The nine I's are silent.

What made you decide to step out from Audio Perm and rebrand yourself with this alias?

It was a natural thing. It wasn't a thing where I decided. A lot of people kind of faltered off from the group. People found out that their heart wasn't into music. No disrespect to them, but a lot of them don't do much with music anymore, some of them don't write music at all, or it takes them longer to develop projects, and [Bobby Raps] and I were going at a pace where we wanted to do shit all the time, constantly, because that's the only thing that mattered to us. [Audio Perm] is still a thing -- it's still an entity, we still kick it -- but [Bobby and I] do our own thing right now because we can do more with it.

The first time I saw you -- and probably the first time a lot of folks saw you -- was last September at P.O.S.'s comeback show. Since then, you've been on just about every hip-hop bill in the Twin Cities. How did you manage that?

It's a lot of stuff accumulated. There are a lot of different ways I get gigs. One is that I've just been working in the hip-hop scene since I was 17, so the connections that I've made over the years with, say, Rhymesayers people or booking people or entertainment companies that book shows, they just know me and they know I take shit seriously. And they know I'll promote a show, too, and that's a whole other level of why people want to book me. They know that, if they book me, they're getting the show promoted and they're getting a DJ. I'll help with promo and come up with random organizational shit, and I'm a decent DJ.

The crowd always reacts well to your sets. How do you manage to put together sets that get everybody so into it?

I just love music, and that's the reason why I wanted to become a DJ. That's probably why most people do it. When I was a producer, I did vinyl samples a lot, so I was always looking for source material, and that's how I learned about funk and R&B and jazz and bossanova shit, all the different genres. I would just constantly research styles of music.

With DJing, I've gained a different perspective on music. I've listened to so much music. I hear it, and I know how certain people will react to certain things, and I know how energy works, drops and different sections and what timing has to do with it. Sometimes I'm right, and sometimes I'm very wrong, but it's a learning experience.

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You have a crazy sense of style. I saw you open the JMSN show last month in a red ski jacket and tube socks. Is that part of the DJ persona, or is that just you?

That's just who I am. At the JMSN show, those were just the clothes I'd been wearing the last few days. Lately, I've been in the studio so much, I haven't been focusing on clothes as much as I used to and my style. The style comes from one of the cats that used to be in Audio Perm, this dude Spencer Virden, and he just showed me a lot of things about life, just through example. I saw how he lived his life and his attitude about things, and I was like, "this dude is really happy, he's a really free person, why doesn't everyone live their life like that?" Ever since then, I haven't really got down with what's normal. That's pretty much what I feel about style... I just like to convey comfortability. I just wanted to take off those shoes at the moment -- they were ugly-ass shoes -- and that's what felt natural.

You also do a lot of work with the Stand4rd. Do you consider yourself an unofficial fifth member?

I'm realistic. I know that I'm not part of the group, but I'm the official DJ. Any Stand4rd show, I'll be there, and I'll be performing with them, but at the end of the day, I'm not a member. That doesn't really bother me. In terms of writing and composing, I'm not where they're at. I'm realistic about my propositions. We're good friends, and we work together a lot, but I'm not in the group.

2015 has been a big year for the Twin Cities rap scene. Why do you think we're getting all this attention now?

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Honestly, Corbin has a lot to do with it. Corbin's success was a sparking off point for stuff, that really helped a lot of us out. I'm realistic about that, too. If Corbin wasn't affiliated with us, a lot of people wouldn't know what I'm doing. That's why it was a sparking off point, because each of us have our own artistic skill, and we've all been working super hard on our own, so him giving us a boost of visibility...Psymun is a great producer, Bobby is such a great producer, Allan is a great producer and rapper, and they all have their own catalog of music, so if it takes Corbin for people to realize that, for the broader populace to realize that, then that's a beautiful thing to me.

What was it like seeing Allan Kingdom on stage with Kanye? Did you know that was coming?

I wasn't as surprised as some people, because Allan deserves that. Allan deserves it, he's really good, and he works hard on his shit. I didn't necessarily know it was going to happen, but I know his affiliations and shit, so I'm not really surprised it happened at all. He didn't tell us before, but he did tell us right after. He didn't know until close to the performance. He didn't know all that shit was gonna happen, that he was going to perform with [Kanye].

Did you know he was on the album?

No. I don't know if he even knew. It was fuckin' crazy though, I was almost crying, it was that tight.

Are there any truth to the rumors that you and Corbin will also be appearing on So Help Me God?

Fuck no, man. That'd be tight, but no.

What is on the horizon for you? Are you putting out any mixtapes or albums? What about shows coming up?

I have a hand in a good portion of the shit that Bobby does, but I'm just focusing on DJing right now. I just want to be the best that I can be in the hip-hop and R&B realm and being able to rock any party in that realm. Without trying. Just have it down. And after that, I want to just gain a better understanding of music and start songwriting more. I'm just interested in making songs happen, even if it's just an idea I give someone. Just making shit happen.

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