A modern day renaissance man, DJ Eclipse has made many contributions to hip-hop culture and it’s progress. From his work at Wild Pitch and then Fat Beats, to his role as DJ for super group Non Phixion, Eclipse is also a businessman, heavily involved with the daily operation of the Uncle Howie record label. Perhaps his most influential role has been with The Half Time radio show, one of the last remaining symbolic shows in NYC. In addition to his work as a DJ and host, Eclipse has also delved into the production world. His classic 1994 Remix LP, contains some amazing remixes featuring Nas, OC and more. With one of the most formidable record collections known to date, Eclipse is a walking lexicon of hip hop knowledge. Strangely under appreciated in the editorial world, DJ Eclipse has consistently progressed with his art and is well deserving of a closer look.
Keir: Where were you born and raised?
Eclipse: I was born in Providence, Rhode Island, but then moved to Columbia, South Carolina when I was 15, so I kind of grew up in both places. I moved back up north to New York around 91-92.
K: How did you first develop an interest in records, and then into hip hop?
E: A friend of my mothers gave me a bag of 45’s when I was young. It was a lot of different styles of music. Rock, pop, jazz, etc. I used to just sit at my mom’s turntable and listen to all of them. That’s what first got me hooked on vinyl. Then in the 5th grade we had a party in our classroom and this kid Brian Rose brought in “Rapper’s Delight”. As soon as I heard it I was hooked. I couldn’t stop rapping the “hotel, motel” line. I immediately went out and bought that record. A couple of years later hip-hop really started taking shape around my way. There were b-boy battles after school all the time. Battles in the park. Local groups started popping up. College radio started playing a lot of hip hop. I think the next record I picked up was Run-D.M.C. “Sucker MC’s” and Sugarhill label releases.
K: What radio stations did you listen to as a youth? Which groups were you into?
E: WDOM, WRIU & WBRU were all the college stations in Providence that had hip hop shows. Aside from “major” acts like Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five, Treacherous Three, Crash Crew, Run-D.M.C. and a few others, the Magical Four were some local cats that were making some dope music.
K: Can you remember your first live hip-hop show?
E: I remember seeing Melle Mel at The Living Room. Also seeing the Magical Four there as well as at USA Skating Rink. Dougie Fresh & Slick Rick at Rhodes on Pawtucket. The Fresh Fest at the Providence Civic Center. They were all around the same time.
K: In your early years, how did you become more active in the hip-hop scene?
E: Once I moved down to Columbia in ’85 I really started taking DJ’ing seriously. I started making a name for myself in school that led to me doing a lot of school related parties. Then I started doing some of the Greek Fraternity parties on the college scene while still in high school. Then I gradually started spinning at all of the local clubs in Columbia. Hooked-up with some like-minded individuals who were into hip-hop and we started working on our own music. Actually, me and one of the MC’s I was working with, Bam Bam, won a demo contest on some radio station in Savannah, GA and we got to open for Stetsasonic, EPMD & Public Enemy at the Savannah Civic Center. Once my name was established I ended up DJ’ing for a mix show on WWDM in Columbia and another station in Charleston, SC. All of this was happening between ’86-’88.
K: Can you tell me one of your most significant memories as a youth?
E: Me and my man The Mighty Maestro met Kool Moe Dee backstage at a concert. We started asking him about breakbeats because at this point we only knew the breaks by sound, not name. He told us a couple that he knew, but said we should ask his DJ, Easy Lee. After the show was over Lee pulled out an Ultimate Breaks & Beats LP and told me that was where everyone was getting them from. I wrote down the contact information off of the record. The next day I ordered doubles of all the volumes that were available at that time. Interestingly enough, we had first stepped to Eric B & Rakim with the same question at the same show and they both acted like dicks.
K: How did you become involved with Non Phixion?
E: In the early 90’s I was DJ’ing for MC Serch along with DJ Riz. Once Serch’s relationship with Def Jam was over he went to work for Wild Pitch Records and got me a job there as well. We were still doing shows and recording music at the time. One of our shows in Brooklyn had an opening act named M-Tri who had a hype man named Sabac Red. Serch liked what he heard of Sabac and got his number. Shortly after that Serch also hooked Sabac up with a job at Wild Pitch. One day Sabac ran into Ill Bill who was working at a clothing store in Manhattan. They started building about music and Bill hit Sabac off with his demo. Bac brought it back to the office and Serch listened to it and liked it. So then Bill started coming around. From there Non Phixion kind of formed from everyone just hanging out together and working on music. Then Bill introduced Goretex to everyone and he was the last piece of the puzzle…
K: Tell me about the history of Halftime Radio.
E: Lynn Gonzalez had been doing the show on NYU for about 8 months when Riz and I stepped to her about joining forces to improve the show. You see Riz used to do the show with Mayhem and Martin Moore, but they got kicked off for cursing and drinking up in the studio. And I used to fill in for both Riz and Mayhem when they couldn’t do it so it was kind of like our home. At first Lynn was hesitant about us coming aboard but then decided it would be good. So we launched The Halftime Show in March of ’98. At that time Bobbito was holding down the CM Famalam show on KCR on Thursdays and Eli, Apex and a few others were doing The Night Train Show on KCR on Tuesdays. We fell in between both shows so I decided to call the show The Halftime Show. Also, Riz is a huge sports fanatic so it made sense that way. Once Lynn graduated me and Riz did the show by ourselves for awhile until Skizz came along. Then Riz decided he had had enough college radio and retired which brings us to date with me and Skizz handling the show.
Over the years, some of our most memorable appearances were from Q-Tip, Meth & Red, Akinyele, Ghostface and pretty much every anniversary show we’ve had where we bring in 2 hot producers and about 30 MC’s live in studio. Regardless of where I was living at the time, NY radio has always been extremely influential on me. And NYU has always had an exceptional hip hop radio show. I’d like to think that Halftime follows in the steps of the above mentioned as well as people like P Fine & Livio G. I feel that I have a responsibility to the listeners to give them what I feel is the best music out there. No politics. Just good music. And when we are gone hopefully the next generation of kids will have been inspired from what we have done and take their show a step further.
K: In the Non Phixion Green DVD viewers get a quick glimpse of your infinite record collection, how many records do you think you have, how do you manage to keep them all? What are some of your prized records?
E: I think I have around 30,000 records. They used to be in chronological order, but when I moved to Queens 9 years ago I just threw them on the shelves to get them off the floor. Ever since then they’ve been totally out of order. But now I’m used to where they are out of order. I have to strategically move furniture around to be able to keep adding shelving. It’s hard to say what’s a prized possession now a days since everything is reissued. Joints like Lord Shafiyq and Divine Force are some of my favorites where as some of the acetates I have of Big Daddy Kane and Kool G Rap on Cold Chillin‘ are worth more. I actually have to go back through my records one day just to remind myself of everything I have.
K: In your travels with Non Phixion, where have been some of your favorite places to visit?
E: Italy is definitely a favorite. That’s my heritage so it’s good to be able to see where you descended from. Amsterdam, Iceland, Switzerland, Greece, South America…the list goes on and on. The fact that we get to see the world when most people don’t get off their block is something that I never forget.
K: How did you help start Uncle Howie records, what artists are on the label and what is your part with the company today?
E: Uncle Howie Records is Ill Bill‘s label. When he started it up officially almost 3 years ago he asked me if I would help him with the retail end of it as I had experience from my days at Wild Pitch. But as any small company that first starts out there isn’t enough finances to bring in a team of people so him and I ended up doing everything. Every aspect from recording, editing, mixing, manufacturing, promoting, marketing, accounting and anything else you can think of was passed off between the two of us. We of course put out ourselves, Non Phixion, and dropped a solo release from ex-Arsonist Q-Unique. Aside from that we are preparing E-Dot for a full length release and have dropped some one off singles from Immortal Technique and Block McCloud of Brooklyn Academy. We’re trying to be a profitable label, but at the same time caring about music and the DJ culture is tricky. Bill and I run the label to this day the same way.
K: Outside of hip hop what are you interested in?
E: My girl and Tommy’s Pizza.
K: What is the future for DJ Eclipse?
E: The future is to continue to make a mark on this culture and leave something behind that I can be proud of.
E: DJ Eazy Lee.
DJ Eclipse – Dedication
DJ Eclipse – Nobody Loves Them
Funkdoobiest – Dedicated (Eclipse Remix)
Nas – One Love (Eclipse Remix)
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