Hurricane seasoning

Turntable champ DJ Craze finds inspiration in his Miami roots to heat up the dance floor

Megan Kadrmas

DJ Craze is used to warm weather. For the long-time Miami resident who was born in Nicaragua, the news of Minnesota’s recent cold weather was a chilling surprise.

“I like the sun, but I like seeing the cold for like a day,” Craze said. Below-zero temperatures and blowing snow drifts make him appreciate the sun and sand more, he continued.

DJ Craze
WHEN: 10 p.m. tonight
WHERE: Foundation, 10 S. 5th St., Minneapolis
TICKETS: $8 adv/$10 dr, 21-plus, www.foundationmpls.com

Craze plans to minimize his contact with the frigid Minnesota weather by going from the airport to the limo to the hotel to the club and back again, he said.

Growing up in Miami gave Craze a preference for the higher side of the thermometer, but more importantly, it influenced his musical preference.

His hometown and Hispanic roots exposed Craze to a wide range of music, he said.

“There’s a lot of Miami influence in my sets,” Craze said.

When he started DJing in his early teens, Craze began experimenting with hip-hop, drum and bass, Miami bass, turntablism, club and even rock.

“Right now I’m doing a lot of old school Miami bass,” DJ Craze said. “I’m mixing the old tracks with current tracks.”

Miami bass features a slightly elevated tempo, sometimes sexually explicit lyrics and slang common to Miami’s ghettos. 2 Live Crew is one of the most known Miami bass groups, but Sir Mix-a-lot’s “Baby Got Back” may be the heaviest played Miami bass song.

Recently, hip-hop artists like Bone Thugs and Lil’ Jon have drawn attention back to this Miami sound by using some of the aspects of Miami bass in their music.

Heavy bass is the unifying factor in the music Craze is attracted to. The Caribbean flavor of Miami music made him appreciate the bass in all types of music, from rock to reggae, he said.

The genre-blending DJ Craze has an impressive past in the battle DJ scene, winning multiple high-profile competitions during the late 1990s. In 1998 alone, Craze won five titles, including his first World DMC Championship title. He went on to make DJ history by becoming the only solo DJ to win three consecutive World DMC titles.

“I didn’t even want to do it,” Craze said. “But I had to because all my boys were like, ‘You gotta try it, at least. Nobody’s done it.’ So I did it.”

But after winning the third DMC title in 2000, Craze retired from the battle scene.

Since retirement, he turned his focus back to the club and party scene, which is where he got his start as a DJ when he was 15, he said. He has also formed a record company and released two battle DJ mix CDs. Craze’s newest album, “Craze Presents Bass Sessions,” was released Monday but can only be found online or at his shows.

Although Craze has officially retired from the battle DJ scene, he was recently tempted to come out of retirement after judging the World DMC tournament in London.

“I ain’t gonna do it because I learned from Michael Jordan and Jay-Z,” Craze said. “You can’t come back.” But just because Craze is done battling, doesn’t mean he’s done training. He already has his prodigy lined up – his seven-year-old daughter.

Craze said he plans to start taking his daughter on the road with him in a couple of years.

“She gets on the Internet and looks me up on YouTube,” he said. “She’s like ‘Wow, you’re kinda good.’ “

As with most seven-year-olds, her music taste changes frequently, Craze said. Her taste ranges from old school drum and bass to British pop artist Lily Allen, he said.

“I always tell her she’s lucky because she’s getting all kinds of flavors real early on,” he said. “By the time she’s in her teens, she’s going to be schooling everybody.”