Episode 15 of the Mavens Do It Better Podcast features DJ Johnny “Juice” Rosado, Emmy and NAACP Image Award nominated score composer, platinum producer, turntablist, engineer, musician, educator lecturer, Global Vice President of The Bronx Boys/Girls Rocking Crew and member of @TheOddysy. He was inducted into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame in 2007 and inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with Public Enemy in 2013.
Johnny Juice and Heather caught up in Los Angeles, CA.
Listen in as Heather Newman talks with Johnny Juice about:
His career and coming up as a DJ, turntablist and Bronx B-boy
Producing Public Enemy and longtime collaborations with Chuck D
Traveling the globe educating students through his lectures on hip-hop and creating community for kids through his work with The Bronx Boys and Bronx Girls Rocking Crew
His theories on hip-hop, being a music producer and doing what you love
Follow DJ Johnny “Juice” Rosado at:
TBB/TBG Rocking Crew
Heather Newman: Hey everyone, it's Heather Newman back here with another Mavens Do It Better podcast and I'm sitting here today in Los Angeles with a dear friend Johnny Juice Rosado, DJ Johnny Juice Rosado.
Johnny Juice: That's right.
Heather Newman: And uh, we are chilling today and hanging out and catching up and he's in town. So, I thought let's do a little podcast together. Um, we've known each other now for a really long time. Met at NAMM years ago because of Microsoft.
Johnny Juice: That's right.
Heather Newman: Because I had a job with Cakewalk doing their booth and Johnny was one of the speakers. And what were you speaking on there? Do you remember?
Johnny Juice: I did a project that was recorded in sonar for their flagship software and I was explaining how the recording process and the mixing process was completed totally within sonar. And I did this just huge type of presentation with the song and it was a, it was a Public Enemy song with a live band as well. And I think we were doing a cover of a James Brown song.
Heather Newman: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Johnny Juice: Think it was “Soul Power”.
Heather Newman: “Soul Power”. Yeah, I remember that. Absolutely. And what was cool about that event, it was just, it was neat because like all the people that worked on it, we've all remained friends and sort of hung with each other, know each other and you know, a lot of those cats before.
Johnny Juice: That's right. Yeah.
Heather Newman: Yeah. You know, those folks. So, I got introduced to sorta everybody then Carl and Brandon and all of those folks, and now see them. I just saw Carl and Brandon at a Foo Fighters thing couple of weeks ago and I see Carl all over cause he goes to the music events here like I do.
Johnny Juice: Right, he's on the west coast now.
Heather Newman: Yeah, he's pretty fun. So, you mentioned Public Enemy. You want to tell everybody your involvement there?
Johnny Juice: Sure. Never heard of them. I've been involved with Public Enemy since the very first album. Uh, I came on board while they were at Spectrum City before they became Public Enemy and they were a radio, a radio troupe as well as a live DJ kind of crew. So, they would go around and do events and they would throw parties, that's what they were doing. And they did radio, college radio and they were really trying to do radio. That was their real thing and the plan was to find rappers and DJs and make groups and manage them. That was their whole plan. Public Enemy was a means to an end. They were going to. They decided to make a group off of a song they did they called “Public Enemy No. 1”, which was done in 83 and in 86 after being harassed by Rick Rubin they finally decided, okay fine, we'll sign with you. Seriously. It was just like that Chuck didn't want to get signed. He was supposed to be signed as Chucky D, but he didn't want to do that. He promised Flav's, mom he'd take care of him. So, he says, "I won't sign unless you signed Flav". Now Flavor wasn't a rapper per se. So, Russell Simmons especially was like, “Why am I going to sign a hype man? You know, he could go on stage with you, but I'm not going to sign him too”. Chuck says, "Well, I'm not doing it unless you sign him". So, when he did that, it couldn't be Chuck D anymore, or Chucky D as he was called, so they decided to change the name to Public Enemy. Simultaneously while they were looking for rappers and DJs, they had a contest to pick these guys. I won the DJ portion of the contest. Two of the guys that were in my crew at the time that went up there to participate in the contest was a rapper name KBMC and the other one was MC Chill-o-ski. Chill-o-ski decided not to come to the contest because he was in Brooklyn visiting his pops. Those rappers are now known as Charlie Brown and Busta Rhymes on Leaders of the New School. We was a group together before this. So, I won the contest. I got down with their crew and eventually, Chuck brings me back and forth home because I didn't have a car, he asked me if I would like to scratch on some of the records. He played a tape in his Cougar.
Heather Newman: Oh, Cougar the car.
Johnny Juice: So, he played the tape and the tape ended up being, what would later be "Yo! Bum Rush the Show".
Heather Newman: Wow.
Johnny Juice: So I went and scratched on that and that was the beginning of my involvement with Public Enemy and I became a member of the Bomb Squad and the rest is history. And I'm still obviously real tight with Chuck and with Charlie Brown and Buster and Dinco because I did scratching on their first album as well, and I've produced a bunch of stuff for all of them. So actually, there's a new Leaders of the New School album coming out soon.
Heather Newman: Yeah? new stuff.
Johnny Juice: Yes, New stuff.
Heather Newman: That's exciting. Yeah. And thank you for helping me connect with Chuck D for the IntoAction when he came and did the social justice panel with us here in LA in January and he was so lovely, and it was really cool to meet him. So, I really enjoyed that. And you, like you travel as much as I do. I know. And you do a lot of teaching and lecturing and stuff. Will you tell folks about that because I think it's super cool that you're doing it? You know, you do everything. I mean, you got your hands on the turntable, you're making music, you're producing people, you’re teaching. So, tell folks about that portion of what you do.
Johnny Juice: Yeah. Well, you know, one of the things that, that we've tried to do, and I'm from the Bronx originally before I moved to Long Island with Chuck and them, is that we've seen the youth succumb to all the dangers and the vices that the city has. So, we always tried to give back and try to make sure that the children are given more opportunities, better opportunities or some knowledge to help them navigate that type of environment. So, as a member of the Bronx Boys, one of the first b-boy crews ever in hip-hop. Started in 74' as a graffiti crew. 75' as a b-boy crew. I'm the vice president, global vice president, 55 chapters worldwide. We strive to help the children, you know, become better people through the arts that we've learned growing up, which became eventually hip-hop. Now there's another side of the fence. The other side is academia. Now, those people, a lot of times were fortunate to not have grown up in the areas that some of us have, but they still want to understand, and they want to get a glimpse or to really fully comprehend why and what, when it comes to hip-hop, not just the commercial aspect of somebody rapping. So, I have three lectures that I do. I travel, I just came, I was in Hawaii recently at the University of Hawaii Manoa, and lectures range from theoretical and philosophical to technical. Starting on the technical portion or the cultural portion, there's Starting from Scratch, which is one of my lectures where I explain how the hip-hop DJ, or the turntablist, became the turntablist, which is different than a DJ. DJ plays records. A turntablist manipulates records like an instrument. And Starting from Scratch is a lecture and a performance together. So not only do you hear the lecture, I bring my equipment and you get, I get to show you how the scratchers evolved, from what they were to what they are now.
Heather Newman: Behold the Purple Crayon. Right. Did you see the Get Down?
Johnny Juice: Yes.
Heather Newman: Did you like it?
Johnny Juice: Yeah. Thought it was cool. A good friend of mine Rahiem from the Furious Five, also in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, was one of the consultants on that as well as Flash. And there's a reason why it's called the Get Down because that's the part of the record, the break that was spun so the b-boys could rock to it. They called it the Get Down, eventually was called the break and then the break boys would dance to it and the break boys shortened to b-boys. Or the Bronx Boys. So yeah, I love the show. You know, people kind of pandered saying it wasn't 100 percent accurate, but it wasn't a biography, or it wasn't,
Heather Newman: Yeah, it was a flavor of what was the time, right?
Johnny Juice: It was based on, but it wasn't trying to be 100 percent historically accurate.
Heather Newman: Yeah. That's cool that you show, you talk about it and then you show everybody too. I mean, I think I took some Scratch Academy classes after we met here in Los Angeles with that crew because it was, I was like this is fun.
Johnny Juice: It is, it's cool. And if the more you get into the more you realize you can do drum rudiments on the turntables, if you know how to. I mean, I do. I actually notate my scratches in percussion notation. So, I mean, when I'm working with my good friend Swiss Kriss, Grammy Award winning drummer for John Legend or formerly from John Legend, and he does his own things now, phenomenal drummer. So, you know, we did our own lecture together as well. It's called The Art of Recycling, which I do on my own now, but it's, I call Run It: The Art of Hip-Hop Production where I explain how there's four or five eras of hip-hop production that are constantly being recycled and nothing has changed really.
Heather Newman: What are we in right now?
Johnny Juice: We are in basically a third iteration of the 808 phase of hip-hop production or the Marley Marl era where
Heather Newman: Is that one, two, or three or four?
Johnny Juice: That would probably be two.
Heather Newman: Be two.
Johnny Juice: Right, the first one would be the Sugar Hill Gang era, which is, or the live band era where live bands would play, replay breaks and then rappers would rhyme over them. Second era was like very early drum, thrown 808, DMX, the Linn Drum, and then possibly a little scratch stab over it. Then eventually the scratch stabs became scratching longer phrases of music. Right now, it's the 808 phase all over again, except instead of stabbing, you know, throwing us a scratch stab or scratching a musical phrase, they just use synthesizers. So, it's Kinda like a hybrid of the Marley Marl era and the New Jack Swing era where Teddy Riley mixed hip-hop drums with a lot of RNB. So, these guys are mixing basically the 808 drums that we already used back in the eighties with a lot of the synthesizer sounds that came out like in the mid to late nineties.
Heather Newman: Everything kind of evolves, but then adds two, rolls over again.
Johnny Juice: It always does that. I mean I remember, you know, there's the record Dollar Bill by my homeboy, super rhymes himself, Jimmy Spicer "Dollar Bill Y'All" - dollar bill y'all. Then it was sampled and done over again in the two thousands. And you know, and that happens sometimes you never know. "Cold Gettin' Dumb" was done by Just-Ice in the eighties and was sampled and redone in the nineties, you know, sometimes you don't even realize that that's an actual old rap record. Milk and Gizmo, the Audio 2 did "Top Billin'" and then it was sampled by 50 Cent for "I Get Money", you know, so the thing it's always, you know, it's always recycled and every once in a while, you get something real fresh. But you know, that's one of the lectures and in the last lecture I have is on the Tao of hip-hop, the way of hip-hop. Keeping it ethereal. It's like keeping it real, ethereal, because it's not really tangible because I argue that hip-hop is not necessarily a culture, but more so the process.
Heather Newman: Why is that?
Johnny Juice: Because hip-hop is different for everyone. Everybody claims hip-hop is this, that we say hip-hop is really the four elements, you know, the five elements. Four elements being, you know, emceeing, deejaying, b-boying, aerosol art or graffiti. And then the fifth element is knowledge of self. So that's what it's supposed to be. But I don't really prescribe to that because back in the seventies when there was a park jam, everybody in that park jam that went and partied, out of all of those people, very few of them practiced any of those elements. There were a few b-boys in the crowd. There was even fewer DJs and DJ crews and MCS and then the graffiti writers weren't at the jams at all because they were at the yard, you know, writing on trains. So, what were most of the people doing there? Just dancing.
Heather Newman: Dancing their asses of.
Johnny Juice: Right. They weren't break dancing as they called it later. They weren't b-boying or rocking or any of that, but they were hip-hop. So, if they weren't any of the elements, but they were what mostly comprised of the hip-hop scene, then what were they? So, I can't say that hip-hop is an element-based thing. What I say is that hip-hop is a process. So in other words, it's like, and, and I have a theory, I call it the Diffractive Prism Theory of Hip-Hop where, like a prism, when you shine light through it, it breaks into a whole bunch of different colors and hip-hop is your internal prism and you filter your life experiences through that prism and whatever comes out on the other side is what comes out. But the product is not hip-hop. The process of you filtering it is.
Heather Newman: I love that.
Johnny Juice: So, if you take a fedora hat, right? And you put it on an old dude, it's just a fedora hat on an old dude, but you put it on Run DMC and all of a sudden, it's hip-hop. Adidas has been around forever, but you throw it on a pair of Run, you know, Run DMC throws on a pair of Adidas, they're hip-hop. Give me two Billy Squier records they're rock records, but when I am manipulating them, it's hip-hop. The second I stop they're just two rock records again.
Heather Newman: "Everybody Wants You".
Johnny Juice: Right.
Heather Newman: I love that song.
Johnny Juice: I love that song too.
Heather Newman: I had that as a ring tone for a long time.
Johnny Juice: Stroke me, stroke me. You know when it comes to that, you know that dynamic, I feel that hip-hop is not a product because if that's the case, you can take someone like Brittany Spears and she could rap on a record and even scratch on it. Does that make it hip-hop? And somebody can say no. I'm like, well then what? Why? They would say the intent, but you didn't say that. You said hip-hop is the elements. She's practicing the elements, so why is that not considered hip-hop? Because people will say that the intent is not there, but you didn't say that when you defined hip-hop as the culture, did you? So, there's a lot of people that got into hip-hop that made great rap music because rap music is not hip-hop. Hip-hop is a part of rap, rap is a part of hip-hop as a whole. So, if you're going to say that, then how can you tell? How can you tell what anyone's intent was one? Two, some of these cats that were real dope actually got into it only for money. So, you're saying that's not hip-hop? Because some of them guys made some classic records. So, at what point do you determine what real hip-hop is, what it really isn't? So again, you're basing it on the product, or the output.
Heather Newman: And not the process of the creation of it and the, say the elements that may happen to be a part of it. Maybe there's two or three or four or maybe just one or whatever.
Johnny Juice: There's a lot of cats that say, "Yo, I'm hip-hop". But they never really b-boyed. They were never rappers. I mean they might've messed around and rapped a little here and there. But they're not really Rappers, they're not DJs, they're not MCS, they don't do any graffiti. So how do, how do you determine that you’re hip-hop? And they and they determine it based on their intent on what they feel. So, if that's the case then it's based on your filter of events that have occurred in your life. You filter things in a certain way and that filtering process is what makes you hip-hop. So, if that's the case, Hip-hop isn't the product, it isn't the end result, Hip-hop is the actual physical process.
Heather Newman: Yeah. I like that. Um, we were talking about, so you've worked with Prince, the dear departed, amazing, wonderful Prince. And can you talk about working with him a little bit?
Johnny Juice: Yeah. Prince is a genius. He was a genius. There's really not much you can say about that other than that. But the dude, you know, we had to do a recording and, it was a very limited interaction, so it wasn't like I did a whole song with him. It was really about someone else that actually had recorded vocals for Prince happened to be there and record it. But all the stories are true. He offered to play basketball. There was no, there was no pancakes offered. Guy is obviously extremely talented and I think that there's a side of him that even he wishes people could see, but he doesn't know how to present it. I talk with Ms. Mavis Staples, who I also recorded with, from the Staples Singers and she and her sister Yvonne, who passed away, you know, recently, fairly recently, we were talking about that and she said when she first met Prince it was right at a show he did, they were flown in. Prince said I want them to come to the show and just flew them in. And they met Prince there on the side of the stage and Prince came off the stage and Yvonne was telling me, Yvonne Staples, that he didn't get any acknowledgement from any of the people in his staff. Like, you know, usually you get off stage. "That was dope! That was great!" Nothing, it's like, people are scared to say anything to him. So, he walked up to the back, right to the side of the stage and Yvonne was there and she looked at him, she gave him a hug and he started crying. And it's like, just like every other artist, we, we wish for people to understand.
Heather Newman: Yeah. We all need people to appreciate the things we do, right? No matter who you are and how famous or whatever, you know, like, "That was cool. Thank you". Right? Yeah.
Johnny Juice: But the thing is, you know, sometimes it's like, I don't know Prince well enough to save him. Maybe they, maybe those people in his staff had said before, "That was great!" And he's like, "I know." You know what? Maybe that's what he said and they're like I guess I'm not gonna say that again. I have no idea. But, you know, and I ended up becoming good friends with Cat Glover, his dancer for many years and his confidant, a very good friend of his and she has given me insight into Prince's life that I didn't have at one point. And at one point I was supposed to actually redo Alphabet Street with her. She was actually on the original record with him. We got blessings from Prince to redo it. But we never got a chance to do it. And Prince passed away. And then Cat was inconsolable, so
Heather Newman: Yeah, of course, of course. Yeah. There is a documentary I watched. Um, that was sort of, it was leading up to him passing, that was, it was really heartfelt and really sort of showing sort of the people that lived close to Paisley Park and what he did with them and all of that. And so much of that stuff you just didn't know. You know?
Johnny Juice: Yeah, it's real sad.
Heather Newman: Yeah. It's tough. And you know, with your, I know, you know, working with him and you, we could sit here for, I dunno, probably two days and have you list everybody you've worked with because you've worked with everybody and their Mama and um,
Johnny Juice: I like working with their mothers better.
Heather Newman: Hey Mamí.
Johnny Juice: What's up Mamí? Oh yeah, Mamí. Que tú quieres?
Heather Newman: I was just visiting your homeland. I was just in Puerto Rico.
Johnny Juice: Puerto Rico!
Heather Newman: I know we were just talking about that and I know that, you know, your family, you've had, you have family and back and forth down there. And you worked on an album to help support the relief efforts.
Johnny Juice: Yes, I hooked up with a friend of mine, Taína Asili, and Taína sang in multiple iterations of different crews, including a group that I worked with called Ricanstruction. They were a Puerto Rican punk group and the lead rapper, singer from Ricanstruction was Not4Prophet. Um, he actually asked me to record with him, so we made an album under the name X-Vandals. So Taína sang on that. Years later I met her because I was living in upstate New York. And I'm like, "What are you doing up here?" She was like, "I live here. What are you doing up here?" I'm like, "I live here!" So, it was like, wow. And one day her conguero, the guy that plays the congas for her couldn't show up for a gig. So, she called me she's like, I know this is probably not your level of stuff anymore, but you know, I know we can't pay you as much. I'm like, just ask me what you want to ask me. She goes, you know, my Conga player can't make it. Can you? Can you come to a gig? I'm like, of course, you know, so I came out, I played for her, so then I became a backup Conga player. So, one day, we had a terrible accident, a terrible event, the hurricane that hit Puerto Rico that devastated the island. So, she said, you know, I really feel strongly that we should put together an album. So, what she did, she contacted multiple artists to submit music. And then she was going to put on Sofrito, which is a song about her grandmother and Sofrito is this concoction we make that kind of goes on everything we cook so, and, but that's like kind of like the lifeblood of us. The Sofrito, right? So, she wanted a remixed version. So, I did a remix for that and um, and we raised money and it went to some grassroots organizations to help people on the island, of course, because that's how, that's our home.
Heather Newman: Yeah, absolutely. And you have, and I loved it so much and it's been fun talking to you about it, like just being there too, you know, and talking about food and everything else. You and I love the foods.
Johnny Juice: I'm a foodie.
Heather Newman: The mofongo! And, and uh, I've been listening and watching your new project that you have with KJ.
Johnny Juice: Yeah, The Odyssy.
Heather Newman: Yeah, The Odyssy. Will you tell everybody a little bit about that because that's all brand new and coming out.
Johnny Juice: It's brand new. It's different. It's weird. He's like a 6'6" South African skinny Sting, like he has a Sting-ish type voice. It's weird, right?
Heather Newman: He does! I've talked to him on the phone because we're going to do a podcast with you and him in a bit, but yes.
Johnny Juice: And uh, and then, you know, he wanted me to do scratching on some of his solo stuff he was going to do after meeting him, the same people I met you through, Carl Jacobson.
Heather Newman: Oh, get out of town!
Johnny Juice: Yeah, through Carl and all that stuff and Cakewalk. He was a CEO of a company that made pcs for music. So, I bought a bunch of pcs from him. He left the company and he wanted to do his music again and instead of being, you know, a bass player like he normally is, he wanted to be the front man. So, he, I’m going to do a solo album. He asked me to do some scratching and some stuff I did, it was like, “Hey, you know, I need somebody to go on the road with me, uh, you know, anybody?” That turned into a "Hey! Let's be a group!" And then it turned into, "Hey you got any beats?" And you know, so it kind of graduated that way. So, I sent him some stuff and then it totally changed the trajectory of what he was working on. And it became this weird thing where I'm giving them these hard ass hip-hoppy beats that meet Electronica that also have some jazz and then you know, it's very musical. So even though the drums are hard on some hip-hop stuff and I'm doing some scratching, I'm mostly playing keyboard on it. I played bass on a lot of the stuff, and then I had Kevin replay it. Played percussion, some drums. And then he even got me singing background on a lot of this stuff. So, you know.
Heather Newman: And you have a video coming out.
Johnny Juice: Yes. We have a video called "Alone". It's on our website, theoddysy.com, t-h-e-o-d-d-y-s-y.com. We also have "Incantation", the first song that we put out, which is more drum and bass electronic-ish than "Alone". "Alone" is like if you took his vocals off, it'd be a rap record, well until the chorus because then the chord changes and stuff.
Heather Newman: Yeah, it's layered.
Johnny Juice: It does different. It's like a, it's like a jazz meets soul meets hard hip-hop plus, but his voice is so, so ethereal, it floats over everything. And it's a great combination. I mean it's different, you know, I mean everybody feels their stuff is great. I feel this stuff is unique. So, I think it has a voice and I think people could really, resonate with a lot of people because the subject matter is pretty much my life over the past two years. And maybe even Kevin, KJ's the stuff that he, he was able to tap into a lot of the pain I was going through with his lyrics and he felt musically what I was trying to say, and he did it vocally. Phenomenal mind reading skills for KJ and if you've ever been through a lot of pain at one time and didn't know why or knew why but couldn't stop it. Any of that stuff, you'll feel this album because it really, it really speaks to, you know, exactly, you know, the process that you go through with the ups and downs until you figure out yourself.
Heather Newman: Yeah, I connected with it for sure. Yeah. And knowing you too, and, you know, us being friends and stuff like watching you go through this process, it's been, it's been really lovely, and I know it's been tough so it's, I love that you have something new that you're passionate about.
Johnny Juice: Oh yeah.
Heather Newman: You know, I mean you're passionate about everything but like, but, but you know what I mean, but like something that's able to take what you go through and I mean that's why we make art, right? That's why we share that, so that we all feel not so alone. You know what I mean? Yeah. That's exciting. And there's more album to come and more songs and that's coming out?
Johnny Juice: That should be out at the beginning of the year. It was supposed to come out already, but we've had a few major setbacks. I lost my grandmother beginning of the year and that kind of set me back a lot. Then I also moved, that set us back and then we also had other things we were working on. It kind of pushed back a little bit. And plus, we have some guest appearances on the album, kind of pushed stuff back. Charlie Brown from Leaders of the New School, we have DMC, from Run DMC, we have Chuck D, we have Keith Murray. And then we reached out to Vernon Reid from Living Colour.
Heather Newman: Oh wow.
Johnny Juice: He may do a guitar piece. And then Davy DMX, the legendary Davy DMX, plays guitar on a joint, believe it or not, he was part of a group called Orange Krush back in the days. They did a song called "Action", but he also produced a lot of Run DMC's stuff.
Heather Newman: Nice. Yeah. Speaking of, and we're gonna get KJ on and we're going to do one and go a little deeper into your process and stuff. So, you mentioned DMC, so fun fact, so I got another Microsoft gig where I was working for Massive, who did all the advertising inside of Guitar Hero and all of that. Right. So Guitar Hero 4 was coming out, and I had met Juice at a NAMM and I was in New York and I called him up and I was like, "Hey, I'm putting this thing together with advertising teams where we're going to make them teams, they're going to be bands, we're going to have a Guitar Hero 4 you know, contest." Right. And I had to find a venue and everything. And you remember I got that venue and then some crazy
Johnny Juice: On the west side of Manhattan.
Heather Newman: Yeah. Well it was originally supposed to be at the David Copperfield place and then some crazy stuff went down, and the doors were locked and then I had to move it over to the Chelsea. I can't remember what that was. That venue.
Johnny Juice: I remember the name of the venue, but I remember those moves and that venue was actually nice.
Heather Newman: Yeah. I liked the venue too, but I talked to him and I was like, "Hey, would you think about being a guest judge for me?" Right? And you said yes, which was great. And I said, “So do you think you know, you can get somebody else?” And what you said to me was this, you said, "Yeah, yeah, I'll get you somebody else. I'll get D." And I was like, okay, who's D? And you're like, uh, Darryl. And I'm like again, who are you talking about? And you're like DMC, you know, Darryl, from Run DMC. I was like, oh, that was hilarious.
Johnny Juice: And he loved that.
Heather Newman: I know.
Johnny Juice: He had such a good time.
Heather Newman: He's a sweetheart and yeah, it was. So, it was just funny because we, we sort of knew each other but not so well that I knew who D was in your life, you know what I mean?
Johnny Juice: You know, I have to, sometimes I have to, you know, I have to kind of step back and say, you know what? They might not know that I see these people because I've known them for so long.
Heather Newman: Yeah, sure.
Johnny Juice: I mean my daughter was calling DMC Uncle Darryl, right? She would tell everybody, you know, she knows Uncle Darryl and Uncle Joe, Run DMC. Right. So, she was, she was in elementary school, so she goes to the library, this is like second grade or something like that or something, they really go to the library, library. So, somebody pulls out a book and it's a Run DMC, it's a book about Run DMC. She's like, "Hey, I know them. That's Uncle Darryl and Uncle Joe." And they're like, what? Little kids are like, “What do you mean that's Uncle Joe? What are you talking about?” So, you know, so her teacher was like, you know, I think your daughter's telling like, you know, little lies, little white lies. Says she has an Uncle Darryl and Uncle Joe, and my daughter's like half Puerto Rican, half black. So, she's not as dark as Run and D. So, it's like, you know, she's saying that those are her uncles. I'm like, well they kinda are. And she's like, what do you mean? I'm like, well, so I explained and they're like, ohhh. So, it's real funny sometimes. I don't realize that they're, these are guys I just know.
Heather Newman: Well sure. You know, you and I have been friends for close to a decade now. Like now I know who you're talking about when you say someone's name or their, you know, performing name or their DJ name, you know what I mean? I know who you're talking about now. But that was funny because that was sort of the first time we'd sort of worked together in that way and it was a, it was great. And he came out to Sonoma County a couple of years later because he does lectures as well. And so, he did a history of hip-hop lecture and I know does the Comicon stuff. And so yeah. So, it's been, it's been fun sort of seeing how people start off one place and then do all kinds of different things, you know. Do you have anybody you're producing right now that you want to talk about and tell people about?
Johnny Juice: Other than the Odyssy, I'm producing Charlie Brown and Dinco. They're called New School Inc. Other than Leaders of the New School, I mostly only do Leaders of the New School stuff, I did an artist called HiCoup h-I-c-o-u-p, and he's an actual artist, artist. He actually paints, but he also is a phenomenal rapper. We did an album called Beast of Burden where every title has an animal in it. So, there's "Monkey Suit". There's "Crocodile Tears". There's "Booze Hound", you know, because he had a problem with alcohol at one time. So, all of the songs have a beast in it. And then the second side are all titles of songs that show what the burden of being a black man is supposed to be. So, Beast of Burden is that album. It's on the HiCoup, HiCoup's website, hicoup.com. But I'm also working with a, with a couple of film companies because I do movie scores.
Heather Newman: You were telling me about the Kareem Abdul Jabbar. Tell everybody about that too.
Johnny Juice: Yeah, I did, I worked on this movie called On the Shoulders of Giants for Kareem Abdul Jabbar. Uh, it was based on his book and it's about the first all-black or African American basketball team, pro basketball team called the Harlem Rens, short for the Harlem Renaissance, and they were attached to the Harlem Renaissance Hotel and Casino or whatever it was. So, these guys, and they had a black owner, so Bob Johnson, so a lot of firsts, you know, and they won a world championship and they whipped, and this before there was an NBA, you know, they would do barnstorming. They would go around the country and going into barns and play other basketball teams and they would whip them, you know, and they will do this while they would get tripped by the people watching the game or get people to try to stab them with stuff. And yeah, so there were, it wasn't just five on five, it was five on, on everybody. And these guys were ridiculous. And um, yeah, I learned a lot working on that and I got to work with Herbie Hancock, Wynton Marsalis, Will.i.am, Chuck, Bill Cunliffe. So, we got a few NAACP Image Award nominations for best album, which was me, best dual group collaboration, best documentary, won best documentary. So, it was a great process and working with Kareem Abdul Jabbar was great. Brilliant man by the way.
Heather Newman: Yeah, and you've, I mean you have a Grammy and you've been nominated for Emmys.
Johnny Juice: Emmy awards. I've got Platinum albums and all that and who cares? Um, I mean
Heather Newman: You know, yeah, but I mean it's nice to be recognized by certain entities for your work. Right?
Johnny Juice: I mean that's cool but sometimes those are all just a big popularity contest. I mean I'm, I'm in the Long Island Music Hall of Fame but I'm also on the education advisory board for them, which I find more important actually. And then the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction in 2013 and that's cool, but like, you know, like really? Who cares?
Heather Newman: Well it's also about like, you know, getting to like have that experience with the other people, green room fun and you know what I mean, like meeting people and
Johnny Juice: Hanging out with Tom Petty. I got to speak to him like, what? Half an hour, 45 minutes, never met the dude. Great Guy. And then of course he passed away recently. So, I got a chance to talk to him, you know, and those things I find more important than any of the accolades and other stuff.
Heather Newman: Those sometimes lead to those cool conversations or things because you're in the same place at the same time because of something, something, something, you know.
Johnny Juice: I was talking to David Grohl about him playing the devil in The Pick of Destiny, Tenacious D's The Pick of Destiny. Out of all the things we could talk about is like Nirvana, no. Foo Fighters, no. “Yo, so how was it playing the devil in The Pick of Destiny?”, “Oh, it was great, but 8 hours of makeup was terrible, you know?” So the regular conversations with people like that, agree.
Heather Newman: I was telling you that he had, that Dave Grohl handed my Mama brisket last month and I was like, that is the coolest thing that I'm
Johnny Juice: Mama, Mama brisket.
Heather Newman: Mama brisket, I know for sure. So you know, you do so many things and I love it that you have such a passion for education and the lecturing and I've seen you spin and you spent you, um, that night at the Garage Band, you not only did the judging stuff but you were there, you know, doing your scratching and stuff and I guess, you know, like you're a master turntablist, like I watch you and I'm just, I'm always, every time blown away. Where's your, where's that happy place for you? I know you do so many things, but like when you're like, this is it, this is my jam. This is my element. This is my thing. Like what is it that you're doing in that area, you know?
Johnny Juice: Yes. It's everything. My happy place is whatever I'm at where I'm at. It might be me scratching a record right now. It might be me going on a two-mile swim. It might be me sitting on a beach, might be me playing with my grandkids. It might be me playing with a nice young lady. You know what I'm saying? You never know. My happy place is whatever's happening at the time. I live my life going forward saying, you know, I'm grateful for whatever happens, and I try to be present as much as I can, which is essential for happiness and it's actually essential for being good at a lot of different things. You want to be good at one thing, fine. If you want to be good at everything, be present because if you're present, you concentrate on what you're doing and nothing else matters but that thing, at that time.
Heather Newman: Yeah. Do you have maybe a piece of advice for people coming up in the world? I mean, I think you kind of just gave a heck of a lot of it, but anything else?
Johnny Juice: Yeah man, don't listen to a word I just said. Go out there and find what makes you happy and when you find it cultivate it, get good at things. Learn. Never stop learning. I mean anything else, that doesn't matter. Never stop learning because when you stop learning, that's when you start dying.
Heather Newman: Yeah, for sure. Well thank you for talking to me.
Johnny Juice: Thank you.
Heather Newman: I know. I'm like, we've been talking all, for a while anyway.
Johnny Juice: This was actually part eight of a 2,000-part series.
Heather Newman: An ongoing conversation with Hedda and Johnny Juice.
Johnny Juice: No doubt.
Heather Newman: Awesome. Well y'all. Thank you so much honey. I appreciate it. And everyone that's Mavens Do It Better podcast again. Have a beautiful day and more soon.
Johnny Juice: Peace.
Heather Newman: Peace. Bye.