Acrowd has gathered at a residence located on Twenty-something Street and some avenue west of Nicollet and east of Hennepin on a Saturday evening. They come from word-of-mouth; on the streets, people know DJ Psychomatic makes a good party live as shit. Inside, folks are enticed by a slow-flowing Ebonic vibe; in the far corner of the living room, which has been cleared of furniture to make a dance floor, Psychomatic hovers over a mountain of sound equipment. His right hand massages a turntable, while the index finger and thumb of his left hand walk gingerly among numerous knobs, switches, and blinking lights on a mixing console.
Every few moments Psychomatic lifts his head and glances at the dance floor. Timing is everything. "I can't waste my tightest mixes on just a few folks," he thinks to himself. He is referring to the dozen or so guys standing in close proximity and facing out towards the dance floor. Each of them bobs his head or shrugs his shoulders in time with the bass. All appear oblivious to the three women, who gyrate lustily to Psychomatic's beats, like they're trying to free their souls from the limits of their flesh.
Later, when the floor fills up, Psychomatic is moved to conduct an experiment. People stop dancing; they scratch their heads and frown, listening intently. No one has heard Wu Tang Clan mixed with Soft Cell before, but they like what they hear. The crowd whoops approval, and suddenly people are dancing harder than ever. Psychomatic, with headphones dangling from his neck, glances over the top of his mountain and smiles.
Psychomatic deserves this moment of solitary exultation. He has studied his art, from his younger days in Chicago through his stretch as a soldier stationed in Germany during the fall of the Berlin Wall. As the Soft Cell-Wu Tang experiment affirms, he is a master of the blend, of playing two records together so they sound like one. Most DJs choose scratching and mixing over blending. Timing two records to play together perfectly, while maintaining a booty-shaking, head-bobbing groove is difficult.
In the scheme of things, Psychomatic sees himself as filling a vibe in time, like Prince and all those other brothers once did. He claims that as long as he wields some influence in the underground scene, he will promote hip hop and R&B oriented events. "All I want is to find a place that will showcase clean-cut hip hop, R&B, or even reggae," he says. "The biggest problem is finding a space." With hip hop, that's long been the case, in the Twin Cities and elsewhere. Although his efforts have proven successful at the Red Sea, Cuzzy's and the Front, the other local venues are reluctant to host affairs--perhaps because no Ebonics interpreters are on hand.
If you are one of those people who lurks in the shadows of the underground where hip hop activity takes place, then your ears must become familiar with Psychomatic grooves. With all due respect and much props to Brent Sayers, Chaos MC, and the cast of all other local hip hop Olympians, DJ Psychomatic and his partner DJ 3-2 truly bear the torch. At the end of this era, Psychomatic will be remembered as the local DJ who administered beat-induced seizures of Grand Mal proportions. He will be remembered as the DJ who freed souls.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss City Pages' biggest stories.