A Valentine for DJs

Music inspires me to write more than any other art form. Good music opens portals into new worlds, new neighborhoods; it gives me ideas. It lifts my spirit. A recent poem that I wrote happened after I listened to Skee-Lo's "I Wish" circa 1995 (I wish I was a little bit taller/I wish I was a baller/ I wish I had a girl who looked good, I would call her) and carried that lyric/image "I wish I had a rabbit in a hat with a bat" around with me all day.

I depend on those who really know and follow music to introduce me to new songs and artists. That doesn't happen by listening to commercial radio, which is cool, but not inspirational. I like DJs who can hit a groove and play ten songs back-to-back that take you someplace other than where you are. The Electrifying Mojo was one such DJ back in the day in Detroit. He'd play an hour's worth of Prince. He played Kraftwerk, Thomas Dolby and turned us all out. There's no wonder that techno music, which revolves around a cult of DJ personality, originated in Detroit.

So I was thrilled to get an email yesterday from Garth Trinidad who is now blogging and is back on KCRW in Los Angeles which streams his "Chocolate City" show on the internet. Garth is one of those DJs who always introduces you to new sounds and artists. He does what isn't expected.

A shout to a few other DJs who have influenced me over the years: DJ Namdi and his Afro-Dicia show on KPFK; Peter J. Harris' Inspiration House which was also on KPFK and which blended good music with poets reading their work; James P., my former student who made incredible mixtapes and had a deep knowledge of music to be so young. Happy Valentine's Day. I hope you all are still inspiring folks with music.

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