Exclusive Interview: Mick Boogie, Jay-Z's Latest Addition To Roc Nation

by Ailsa Forlenza · March 28, 2011

DJ Mick Boogie's presence spans the globe from Tokyo, Paris, Dubai, Miami, and New York. Well known for his collaborations with Jay-Z, the late J-Dilla, Talib Kweli, Kanye West, and Sean "Diddy" Combs, we chat with him about his inspirations, background, and future plans. -

Boogie has made bumptious beats with De La Soul, infused music into the lithe limbs of models, and has proven to be one of the best hip-hop mixtape artists. He's graced the DJ booths of 1Oak, Gold Bar, Avenue, Eldridge, and exclusive A-List parties. Most recently he joined Roc Nation, whose roster includes musicians such as Rihanna, Santigold, Mark Ronson, and the Ting Ting's.

When asked how he felt about joining Roc Nation, Mick responded emphatically:

Surreal.  Extraordinary.  Blessed.  My whole career, I have been self-managed and worked 24/7 on the music and the business sides of being a deejay.  It's exciting to think what can happen if I continue to work hard and combine that with the talents of the best management team in the game.  I think 2011 is going to be amazing and I can't wait for everything to get rolling.

What is your personal relationship to music? Have you had any specific moments in your life where you knew this could be your career

Music has been in my life since day one.  I remember my mom getting me the Michael Jackson Thriller album when I could barely walk.  I used to carry around a green case of records when I was in pre-school.  I remember sitting at a piano teaching myself songs in grade school.  In high school, I took drumming seriously which led me into deejaying.  All of these random moments kinda add up into me knowing this would be my career and passion.

Who are the DJ's/musicians that you admire, and why?

So many.  Jazzy Jeff, Mark Ronson, Stretch Armstrong, Funkmaster Flex, the late DJ AM... as far as deejays.  Musicians... Chad Smith from the Chili Peppers is my favorite drummer.  James Brown might have been the funkiest person to ever walk this planet.

What do you think is most important about a good mix? How do you choose what songs to place together, is it by rhythm, era, etc.?

I'm a theme guy.  It has to speak to each other.  I look for commonalities.  Common samples.  Common lyrical content.  Maybe a similar verse or word that I can play off of.   You have to make the records talk to each other.  Or at least try to.

What is your relationship to the crowd?

I look at it as a give and take.  You need to give them 80% of what they want... to keep them entertained, on the floor, at the venue, at the bar, whatever... and then save 20% for yourself.  Make yourself unique.  Impress the musicologists out there in the crowd who hate the average, same monotonous stuff.  You can never go wrong with that formula.

What is your favorite city to play and party in? Favorite spots in New York?

My favorite city in the world is Paris... it's just an amazing, magical place.  My wife and I plan on retiring there at some point.  But living in New York is absolutely the best place in the world for what I'm doing right now.  My favorite spots in NYC range from the usual Page 6 spots like 1OAK and RdV to places like Anchor Bar and Santos, where people just come to dance and party, no questions asked.

Best party you've ever DJ'd?

It's been a few.  Of recent memory, I just played for 10,000 people at the Red Bull Las Vegas Soundclash and that was insane.  The energy was surreal.

Mick has DJ'ed for celebrities such as Steve Nash, Julia Stiles, James Blake, and musicians like Coldplay, Lil Wayne, Peter, Bjorn, and John, Adele, to fashion shows for Ralph Lauren, Nike, Vivienne Tam-- the list goes on. When it comes to DJ'ing for a celebrity, we were curious how the game plays out:

When you played Will Smith's party-did you play his music?

Maybe a teaser here and there, but nothing serious.  I deejayed a set at the Hancock premier a few years ago with Jazzy Jeff... and Will did get on stage and do some of his old hits.  That was pretty cool.

How was DJing for LeBron? Did he have any special requests?

I've known the guy for a while now... so when we work together it's pretty simple.  He likes the classics, he likes the new hot stuff, and of course, he likes some Jay-Z.

Are there any future projects that you are beginning to work on?

Yes! Always!  We are finishing up a sequel to my Adele 1988 remix project for Sony Music with some remixes for her new 21 album.  It's turning out pretty cool so far.  We are looking forward to getting it out to the public.

Listen to Mick Boogie's remix of "First Love," by Adele:

Spinning J Dilla and Busta Rhymes on the same set, this track sizzles:

Mick's beats steadily work through each song that he samples, creating solid mixed tapes that show off his audible talents. Feeling a rhythm is something you can't be taught. The modern hip-hop DJ uses his or her intrinsic quality in order to synchronize beats and allocate new sounds and music from every culture. Mick Boogie combines this rhythmic dynamic with sounds from every culture and era.  If you missed him causing chaos at Griffin last week, check out his upcoming events below!

March 27 Juliet // NYC

April 14 Griffin // NYC

April 28 Griffin // NYC