So far has his reputation preceded him in so many different areas of music, the name DJ Spinna will undoubtedly be a familiar one to most attendees of Southport Weekender whatever their preferred style of music. A DJ for over 25 years, Spinna was first enticed into the scene at an early age after becoming a fan of local block party and radio DJs in his native Brooklyn. Grandmaster Flash, Sugarhill and the World Famous Supreme Team were some of his earliest DJ influences and from then on in, hip hop has remained his first love.
Vincent ‘DJ Spinna’ Williams’ family are from Panama, and some of his earliest memories include playing his father’s Latin and soul records on a portable turntable when he was just three years old. He practised the art of turntablism in his teens and watched in awe as the neighbourhood jocks were throwing down in his local park. By the mid-eighties he was dropping classics at basement parties, and in his university years built a reputation for breaking new music on college radio. In 1994, he came back home to Brooklyn and released his first record, the club classic ‘Everybody Bounce.’
With almost a decade’s worth of experience tinkering in studios, Spinna’s first productions started to surface proper in 1995/1996. Alongside original productions and remixes for the likes of J Live and Das EFX, amongst Spinna’s earliest releases was his landmark remix of De La Soul’s “Stakes Is High”. The track’s criticism of the commercialisation of hip hop was a sentiment shared by DJ Spinna, and, disillusioned by the direction mainstream hip hop was taking, he began taking more of an interest in house music. ‘I enjoy everything but I have a special affinity for house and dance music. I love to see people move and express themselves and unfortunately hip hop nowadays doesn’t evoke those emotions out of the people like it used to.’
“Visualize” by Mr Complex was another early hip hop classic that remains a firm favourite with real hip hop heads worldwide. He has gone on since then to produce other classic hip hop moments such as Basement Khemist “Vibrate”, Big Kwam “Verbalise” and with his own projects The Jigmasters feat. Kriminul (Beyond Real) and Polyrhythmaddicts. His production skills have been utilised by some of the finest names in underground hip hop such as Sadat X, 7L and Esoteric, Pharoahe Monch, Shabaam Sadeeq (even some bloke called Eminem) and he has recorded extensively for revered label Rawkus.
Though hip hop may be Spinna’s first love he has gone on (almost uniquely) to carve as much of a name for himself as a producer outside of that genre. His breakthrough came in 1998 when he scored a hit with remixes for Cooly’s Hot Box on the Angela Johnson sung “Make Me Happy”, following closely with remixes for the U.K.s Nightmares On Wax, Rae and Christian and 4 Hero. Whilst still reasonably breaks orientated these mixes undoubtedly began to show another side to Spinna, but since then he has gone on to produce sublime mid tempo house (Mark De Clive Lowe “Day By Day”), great pop (Shirley Bassey “Spinning Wheel”, The Jacksons “We’re Almost There”, George Michael “As”) and worked with jazz artists Al Jarreau and Ronny Jordan. The early part of this decade has seen Spinna venture into the production of soulful, deep house and garage on labels such as Papa, Nitegrooves, Central Park and Om not to mention Shaun Escoffery’s “Days Like This” which become a huge soulful dance anthem, not least at Southport Weekender, since DJ Spinna reworked the track.
Enamoured with the West London ‘broken beats’ scene, Spinna ventured into the music, guest DJing at clubs like Co Op and collaborating with Bugz In The Attic affiliated keys man Mark De Clive Lowe on releases “Make A Move” (Rednose Distrikt feat. Alma Horton), “Dawn” (Jon Cutler) and on Spinna’s longplayer, the wonderfully varied “Here To There”.
Part of BBE’s Beat Generation series, Spinna has joined the ranks of Marley Marl, Jay Dee, King Britt and Pete Rock in being given free reign to explore a diverse spectrum of producer-led musics on the LP. The result is a great collection that spans jazz, soul, house, funk and hip hop, much like one of Spinna’s DJ sets.
This guy REALLY knows how to DJ. Combining the dexterity and skills of a true hip hop DJ, Spinna covers the full spectrum of black based dance music, having the same effect wherever or whatever he plays: the dancefloor quakes!