Frank McCright has just shy of three decades in the DJ game as DJ Love. He has seen every facet of the DJ biz, from the production side in the studio to a front row seat for the infamous ’90s rave scene. Love has benefitted from a depth of experience rarely seen in DJs nowadays. For this week’s Mixtape he delivers an all-vinyl mix of breaks. For the uninitiated in this particular niche genre of dance music, this week’s mixtape is a grade-A primer for a genre that mines as much from classic hip-hop as it does from the dance floor.
DJ Love: DJing came to me as an alternative way to make or manipulate music. I went to my first underground club in 1987. I had heard some dance music, but it was mostly mainstream or radio hits. Once I heard the music being played in clubs like The Edge in Norman, Oklahoma, or The Wreck Room in Oklahoma City, I knew that was the kind of music I wanted to make. I didn’t quite know what it was, I just knew I wanted to make it. The problem was I didn’t have the money to buy gear. I was, however, able to afford to buy the records of the songs I liked. In 1988, I borrowed a Radio Shack mixing board, a belt-driven turntable and a drum machine from a friend. I took the a cappella of Information Society’s “What’s on Your Mind (Pure Energy)” and timed it with a beat I made on the drum box. I recorded it and thought I had made my first “remix.”
What did you do from there?
It then occurred to me that if I could match the tempo of a drum machine to a record, I could probably match the tempos of two records. So, I went to this teen club I frequented called Club Elite in my hometown of Lawton, Oklahoma. I was friends with the DJ and I told him what I discovered. He opened the booth door, put me on the decks and basically just handed me the wheels. Literally, he said he was moving back to Puerto Rico so I could have the job, then turned around and started organizing records. I was totally surprised and nervous, but, lo and behold, I just started mixing. He showed me the crossfader, said, “Wait for the breaks … mix then,” and that was it. It came natural to me. So basically, my first gig was the first time I had ever DJed.
Once you’d started DJing, what did you do?
I DJed from 1988 to 1994 before I actually acquired my own turntables and mixer, which I still have to this day. I spun there for a bit then moved to an R&B club across town playing nothing but new jack swing. During all of this, I kept building my collection of house and electronic music. In 1991 I moved to Norman and started a scene there DJing at a place called Rome XC. It was a bar with two sides. One side had live bands and the other side was a dance club. I was very lucky to get booked in LA for some raves there, so I came back and threw the first documented rave in Oklahoma in October of 1992. With that I built up a following, and with my good friend Patrick Johnson, we took the money from the raves and we remodeled the dance side and named it The Qube. That’s when things really took off.