So, DJ Rafik, maybe you have heard this a lot but it is truly an honor that you took the time for this moment so let’s steal it and kill it. The first thing that I would like to ask you is what does it feel like to be the #1 in the world. On Wikipedia it actually says this about you, let me give an exact quote, “ 2007 DJ Rafik (Germany) Holds the record number of 6 world DJ titles.” Sorry to be unoriginal but I just want to know and I am sure everyone else wants to know, how did it feel?
Pants down right from the start! I can’t say that I liked it but I loved it! How can anyone describe a moment like that? I have never thought that I was the best or ever would be considered to be the best in the world. Quote me now, “I do not think I am the best.” One thing to support my thoughts are that I don’t think that there will ever be a best, never! It can change daily, weekly, or anytime. I have had many different producers as well as artists put me at a level of 10 within my own mind. This is ear candy simply put. Any artist can be the best at the right moment.
In my book, it is just best to develop your focus on what you are doing and it is better not to worry about others but to learn everything that you can from the bad of what you do. Learn how to improve yourself.Honestly it is not winning, but by losing sometimes that makes you become better. To me, the first time was embarrassing because I worked so hard and at that first attempt to win the title I felt I lost it so badly. The second time I got more serious and honestly I worked so hard and killed it and took home the next two years of titles.
Simply put, it felt great! No doubt. Winning the DMCs was a big goal of mine and I wanted to finish my battle career with that. I also had quite a great experience with finishing second as well. After I came to the DMCs in 2006, I completely wanted to win but failed pretty hard, it felt amazing to come back the next year and take it. Also, at the 2007 DMCs there was a collab between me and LE JAD, so it was also a huge accomplishment between friends which makes it a bit sweeter I think.
I also think it is good to distinguish yourself to have a great, “punchline” of some sort. I believe that you need something that makes you stand out as an individual. As an example Craze won the DMCs 3 times in a row. A-Trak has been the youngest DMC champ ever and the only one who won all of the DMC/ITF/Extravaganza’s. So my line is just that I won more titles than anybody else and won 3 world categories in a single night. It’s really just a catch phrase and an accomplishment that I’m proud of.
This next question might sound a little odd, but when we become more popular or even more famous, we have to battle with our ego. In what ways have you found the ability to stay humble? You aren’t exactly Justin Beiber, who is a person who’s popularity ruins their minds. We all feel it, but some people are weak but some people are strong. So, in short, how do you handle the stress and pressure from being in the spot light?
I think it’s a relative thing maybe even a universal thing. I’ll be honest, sometimes I get a lil nervous still, because people have high expectations of me. But that’s a good thing because I think that those expectations keep you on your toes. Going against the arrogance and the feelings of being nervous makes you focus and after about 5-15 minutes, it is over and you are completely into the whole environment and your surroundings. The ego thing thou, that’s something that gets filtered out the more you go up the food chain. I don’t really know any turntablists whom have achieved a lot and transformed it into arrogance. I can’t help If Justin Bieber has lost touch with reality that’s another thing…
But as for a turntablist? We have to read the crowd and respond instantaneously with what will make the room bob their heads and feel the bass line, cut, or whatever. So for the attitude…nah man that’s just silly, arrogance is at the bottom of the food chain. I wish the whole scene to be more positive. It is about family and entertainment. Let’s just do our best and see if you can win.
Everybody that is family is proud and silent unless it’s for sport. Being harsh, arrogant, and rude is a childish thing. Maybe an inner game beats you cause you don’t have the right mind-setting. Sorry that others can’t deal with their surroundings in a positive way and maybe by my focus, concentration, and strong positive mind, I won. I do think it’s important to assure yourself that you’re worthy though, all the time. You just need a balance inside of your inner emotions.
So an obvious question is what first made you start liking music. What were your early influences? What made you want to touch a record and combine 2 different tracks. And has that changed? Over the years what drives us as a human changes. So from the beginning to the middle and an end that will never happen, what motivates you and has it changed in any way?
My parents were both musicians and it was something that was always around me. But I was a bit disconnected to their sounds since I could not relate to the Classical music that they listened to. But if I take a second thought, the Classical music is actually a foundation of what I love. But my heart first was first focused on metal.
For some odd reason I always had a tendency to break shit so my mom got me into drumming, which obviously changed everything. I could beat the shit out of the drum kit in the basement while being surrounded by posters of creepy looking rock-dudes. I remember that in my mind that I pretended to be one of them. So the drums got me addicted to base. It was when I found the drums that I truly started to identify myself with music for the first time.
My dad was a Beetle’s fan. So I just went against my parents likes for their musical tastes. I mean I am 34 years old so I got to experience part of the beginning of the creation of hip-hop. I used to play around with records when I was in the 2nd or 3rd grade. I was a silent person in the old school days and to tell you the truth nothing has changed. I am silent. Maybe my silence is a natural personality characteristic but being locked in my mind got me to meditate on how to increase my artistic abilities. While everyone is talking I am thinking about different strategies or aspects of the art of music. Music gives me more satisfaction than anything else. I feel Heaven on Earth and even if I have a bad day I wish for my headphones.
I love talking about the philosophy of music, but enough of that. I want to know what you are doing now. Productions, remixes, events, whatever. What are you doing now that can interest us?
Well, production has been the main focus for my past few years. Honestly I am working at reaching a level that I can be comfortable with. Anyways, weird things have happened over the last few years as I see more and more space opening up to bring skills back into a context that a regular crowd can work with. Scratching and skills have disappeared mostly from the arenas for a while, but right now I feel like things are finding a balance and you can see more and more people actually practicing shit, which I think is great. So what I’m saying is, I find myself spending more time on the decks again, compared to a long time where it was just something I did for passion, not really as something I could use for, “work.” I hope that makes sense 😀
Time for my favorite question, tell me about a fucked up story at an event. Yes I have heard about cops, I have even heard about the ceiling falling down on a crowd. I we would all love to hear an interesting story.
My favorite type of shit-storm would be called the domino effect. Don’t take that in a bad way you just have to understand the meaning of this phrase. Let me explain, I was in Moscow and it turned out that instead of a hotel, I’d be crashing at one of the promoter’s places. That was not what I really wanted. I would have preferred a cheap hotel compared to a dangerous area of the city. Maybe, I would just want my own room after the show to relax. Anyways, we were at the venue, and before I even really got to play, one of the guys (who had been randomly calling out 2Pac lines all day long) shouted, “Fuck the police,” while were having a conversation.
Anyways, after that about 15 dudes wearing ski masks and holding submachine guns ran into the place, screaming and shouting in Russian. I thought that it was a terrorist attack but it turned out to be a drug raid. To keep it short, they took the promoters into a van and one of them was really messed up, I think maybe it was because of the tear gas outside. Then oddly enough they released them and then two random girls had to throw the guy into a cab and then carry him into his own apartment. I just wanted to go to sleep but behold, there were 10 angry Russians in their kitchen with an arsenal of booze. My attempt to refuse the invitation did not go too well, so we drank until 11am. By that time I needed a driver, so the promoter’s dad came and took me to the airport.
Crazy things happened that night. You asked me about a weird time so I must say we have not gotten to the end. Some time that night, a guy passed out then woke up and through his cellphone out the window just so he could go to sleep. I do not want to forget that memory while I hope that we don’t ever have it that hard again. See I told you, the domino effect, when one thing falls, everything falls.
I was at a rave in 1999 and the cops raided it. Someone got on stage and said, “Whoop, whoop, that is the sound of the police.” The crowd responded with the rest of the lyrics. Awesome!
This question is because you possess such an amazing talent. What advice do you have for our future artists?
“Son, there is no shame in failure if you gave it your most honest effort,” (Ron Swanson). If you want to be a competitive DJ, just sign up and make experiences. Winning is really not the important part.
For some reason many artists do not answer this question. Ask yourself a question. This is not a shout-out; obviously the shout-out is the last question. Ask yourself a question and take your time and answer it.
I can see how that one is tricky. Since most questions I ask myself, I don’t know the answers to. Bullett’s give it a shot. What makes you happy about what you do? It’s not the titles, it’s not the recognition. It’s not feeling better than others because you beat them, or inferior because you lost. What I can’t be thankful enough for is the whole experience and how much I learned during the years, being permitted to do what I love. Cheesy, I know. But more than the titles, it’s the fact that once I said, “This is what I’ll do,” and it seemed pretty delusional at the time. But it worked and here I am, doing what I love most.
Shout out to the people who stuck with me through all the madness. My parents, my girl, and my agents who never stop believing in me no matter what stupid shit I am capable of sometimes. I better make that worth the while lol. Also a shout out to Q-Bert and Craze, who have done more for me than they would maybe have expected. And of course DJ Harvey who taught me the first things I learned!
Richard Whitaker + DJ Rafik Peace…love…unity…respect…ONE LOVE…OHANA MAGAZINE