All posts by djplayplay

A History of Protest Music: Parts 1 and 2

I’ve been writing a lot for Clarion Content lately, including a series on protest music. If you know me, you know this is what I originally wanted to focus my master’s thesis on.  Included in each article are a ton of links, videos, and more so you can choose your own adventure. I’ve published two so far, with many more to come!


Part 1: From Slave Spirituals to the Music of the 1960’s Civil Rights Movement

Part 2: From Funk and Soul to Gangster Rap and Hip Hop Feminism

DJ PingPong

I’m going to be bouncing around all weekend between Durham and Chapel Hill; I’ve stretched, hydrated, organized my music and I’m ready to go! Here’s what I have going on:

Friday night (10pm-midnight, the airwaves) – Live set on 89.3 FM for WXYC’s New Science Experience. There is no telling what I will play.

Saturday afternoon (3-4:15pm, Chapel Hill) – TEMPOROBIX. Yes, I’m DJ’ing an aerobics class! And not just any aerobics class, but one led by Sarah Honer aka the lady DJ’ing the goth/industrial party with me at the Pinhook aka the one and only…Fifi Hi-fi. More details here. Let’s just say Richard Simmons would be into this.

Saturday night (10pm-2am, Durham) – PARTY ILLEGAL. I’ll be setting up for a particularly epic Illegal at the Pinhook, with GRRL, TREEE CITY, JIL and DJ ILLY on the bill (lowercase names are so passĂ©…). $5 before 11pm, nice and cheap. Also we have a photographer this go round so throw on all yr glitter.

Saturday night (10pm-2am, Chapel Hill) – ACTUAL DANCING HAS COMPANY. The link to the event is here and it’s at the Nightlight. (Spoiler: I’m the company.) I’ll be throwing a B2B set with One Duran, who I last got to share a stage with when Ripley came into town. Jack Ward (the artist formerly known as Yugen who threw down at Illegal last month) will be tagging with guest DJ Karina S., and then there’s a mysterious special guest playing with Sponge Bath. And Mike D. always knows how to decorate a party.

Sunday (4am-4pm, Durham) – I SLEEP.

*The video is from Mighty Mark ft TT the Artist and Sushi Samson. Mighty Mark and TT were both in Durham for Illegal recently and were super rad! Hopefully they’ll come back through soon…

PlayPlay remixes for free download

It’s been a busy 2015 so far, and all I’ve wanted to do lately is produce music. I have several remixes and original tracks in the works, but have put the beat-making on hold while I prepare my presentation for the IASPM-US conference in Louisville (more on that later). In the meantime, I have two remixes up for the taking on Soundcloud.  I created these beats around two acapellas, DMX’s “Get It on the Floor” and Da Brat f/ Missy Elliott & JD’s “That’s What I’m Looking For (Mr. Dupri Remix).” Enjoy!


Dreaming of the 90s….

It’s time for the third edition of the Dreaming of the 90’s dance party at the Pinhook. Areli (Birdgherl) and I will be spinning 4 hours of this angsty decade’s finest tunes from 10-2 this Friday, 12/12 right after the Chris Pureka show.

90s party 3.001

Nostalgia is one of my guilty pleasures, and I feel the guiltiest about wanting to relive the 90’s in particular. I HATED the 90’s when I was actually there, stuck and wanting an escape. But then again, I hated everything back then. Now it’s 20 years later and here I am being hit by the nostalgia train. Songs I used to hate, clothes that used to make me cringe, celebrities I thought were total losers (oh hey, Tori Spelling)…all suddenly feel like a warm blanket.

A few years ago, I compiled a bunch of 90’s tunes and threw a “My So-Called Dance Party” (over my love for the angsty show My So Called Life, duhhh) and found that at the end of the night, the dancefloor was still packed with people screaming the lyrics to Zombie and interpretive dancing to SWV. After that, I decided not to be so ashamed of my 90’s nostalgia because I am not alone.

Lately I’ve been on a 90’s riot grrrl and industrial binge and Areli has been revisiting the music of her yesteryear, 90’s latin (shoutout to Selena!). You’ll hear this a bit in our sets, as well as Areli’s usual specialty – 90’s R&B, and mine – 90’s club hits and electronica (a term that went out with the 90’s, apparently). Also, we’ll always shamelessly play 90’s pop, such as…..

Forgetting the dance party for a minute, let me just list off for you a few tunes that were always on repeat in my headphones. Just a few.

Sneaker Pimps – 6 Underground

Luscious Jackson – Naked Eye

Liz Phair – Supernova

SWV – Right Here

PM Dawn – Set Adrift on Memory Bliss

Sonic Youth – Teenage Riot

Garbage – Only Happy When It Rains

Deee-Lite – Runaway

Hole – She Walks on Me

Nas – The Message

Babes in Toyland – Sweet 69

Archers of Loaf – Web in Front

And, probably the most embarrassing of these:  Space Hog – In the Meantime

This is not anywhere near a comprehensive list and I know I’m forgetting some really integral parts of my teenage angst but this is a good start…

Party Illegal Presents: DJ Ripley at the Pinhook on 11/15

So excited to have Ripley over here in Durham tonight! So excited, in fact, I wrote about it for Clarion Content. You can access the original article here:

After Jubilee blew us all away at the Pinhook in February, I received a tweet from New York DJ Ripley saying she was also interested in paying the Pinhook a visit. I first stumbled upon Ripley when I followed a new friend into the dark bas(s)ment of Club Six in San Francisco in 2010 and heard some of the grimiest bass I’ve ever encountered from her and the rest of her Surya Dub crew. Ever since then, I have been a huge fan, and have gone down many a musical rabbit-hole listening to her sets. In fact, I have been exposed to entirely new genres of music through Ripley.

On November 15th, Ripley will be making her way to the Pinhook to perform with Birdgherl, One Duran and I (PlayPlay) at Durham’s wildest dance party, Party Illegal.

(Full disclosure: I promote Party Illegal and am one of the DJs on this month’s bill)

DJ Ripley

Ripley currently resides in NYC and is a member of the adventurous and globally-mindedDutty Artz collective alongside Geko Jones, DJ Rupture, Ushka and several others. She is also a founding member of the aforementioned Surya Dub collective in San Francisco, voted by the SF Guardian in 2008 as the “best ambassadors of dread bass.” Ripley has been tearing up dance floors with her notoriously bass-heavy sets across 19 countries and three continents since 1995. Known for her adventurous blending of global sounds with the familiar, she successfully, in her words, makes “the familiar strange and the strange familiar.” On any given night with Ripley, you might hear azonto, cumbia, kuduro, afrobeats, baile funk, tuki, bhangra, dembow, jungle, soca, dancehall, grime, kunq, balkan beats, uzbek pop, electro cha3abi, dub, ballroom, kwaito and more, with the common denominator always being heavy, heavy bass.

During the day, Ripley is Larisa Mann, Visiting Assistant Professor in the Music and the Performing Arts Professions department at New York University. Larisa holds a PhD in Jurisprudence and Social Policy from Berkley Law. Her specialization is in copyright law and she has conducted extensive research on music production in Jamaica. She combines activism with scholarship in her ethnographic work exploring how marginalized communities utilize musical expression and the ways outside institutions interact with these communities. Larisa’s scholarly activism clearly crosses over into her DJ sets, where she celebrates a wide range of musical expression from around the globe.

Now, onto our locals:

DJ Birdgherl

Birdgherl is Areli Barrera De Grodski, owner of Cocoa Cinnamon and a bright light in the Durham community. Her high-energy sets are loaded with global sounds, particularly zouk, moombahton, reggaeton, baile funk, tropical bass and perrero. She blends these sounds flawlessly with juke, footwork, and deep house. She is a regular DJ at the Pinhook, and if you have ever seen one of her sets, you know she kills it every time.

One Duran

One Duran, aka Darren Hunicutt is co-host and resident DJ on WXYC’s New Science Experience mix show and is behind the Actual Dancing parties at the Nightlight in Chapel Hill. In the past, he has thrown raging dance parties in Chapel Hill at venues such as Tallulas, Fuse and the infamous Hell. Stylistically, he selects from a wide range. You’ll hear everything from house to jungle to hip-hop to UK funky in his sets. He’s played with Ripley before, and is excited to join her again at Party Illegal.

DJ PlayPlay; photo by Caroline Lima Photography

And then there’s me. I’ll let someone else write about me. In the meantime, here’s a link to my bio: This Saturday, I will be pulling heavily from the genres of juke, 90’s house and moombahton, but other than that, anything could happen. I am just looking forward to sharing a stage with three of my DJ heroes.

Party Illegal, the brainchild of Queen Plz (Laura Friederich) and the Durty Durham Collective, is getting ready to celebrate its second birthday. In the past two years, this rapidly growing party has brought in big-name artists such as Jubilee, Cakes Da Killa, MikeQ, Starkey, Giraffage, Branchez, Ira IV, TT the Artist, and Mighty Mark and has seen consistently near-capacity crowds. Even so, the party organizers give special care to feature a variety of local DJs from different backgrounds and to create an all-inclusive, safe and consensual space for dancing with ongoing conversations between the organizers, DJs, and event goers. The Pinhook, a radical venue with consent posters lining the walls, gender-neutral bathrooms and a queer-friendly atmosphere, is the perfect space for this monthly dance party and the resulting conversations.

Party like it is about to be Illegal

Party Illegal is really looking forward to having Ripley take the stage and initiate a musical conversation that we haven’t heard much of since the party’s inception: that of global bass. Be prepared to sweat and learn, Durham.

The Pinhook, 117 W Main St, Durham, 10-2am, $8, age 18+

Follow the Party Illegal facebook page for updates!

Facebook event

Join the conversation: #PartyIllegal


Halloween: Monster’s Ball 4! #MB4


Remember Club 9? Well, it’s opening up Halloween for the 4th edition of the infamous Monster’s Ball. Several amazing DJs and I are on the bill with Toon & the Real Laww hosting and a $500 prize for best costume – should be a blast!

PS.  I’ll be wearing this:


Cakes Da Killa & MikeQ at the Pinhook


YESSSSSSS. You can RSVP on facebook here:


Recording artist Cakes Da Killa, is a 23-year-old rapper and writer with two Eps under his belt. Cakes’ second mixtape The Eulogy was released on January 29, 2013 via clothing brand Mishka’s record label. The album quickly gained popularity when it was reviewed positively by Pitchfork and The Needle Drop. Cakes Da Killa’s unique sound is a mix of various musical influences, cinema and underground experiences. He is praised on both his lyrical content and flow — a raunchy style usually compared to Lil Kim and Foxy Brown. Cakes now has over 3,000 followers on Soundcloud and his recently released new single “I Run This Club” via Hot Mom USA. Cakes has traveled to Europe, Canada, Australia, shattering the preconceived notions of what it takes to be a respected lyricist. Cakes brags that he can, “spit that shit to make a homophobe a hypocrite,” and with each release he seems to be proving his point.


MikeQ (Fade To Mind/Qween Beat/Mad Decent), is an American artist and is one of the leading figures of the US’s long-running (but still largely underground) ballroom/vogue-house culture. Based in New Jersey, the 28 year old producer is not only one of the busy DJs, but he also heads up his own “Qween Beat” Label and turns out a steady stream of vogue and ballroom tracks, re-edits, and remixes.

His spine-snapping DJ sets are seriously in demand at the moment, not just at the well-established vogue nights of his native culture and up and down the USA’s East Coast, but beyond (London, Paris, Tokyo ETC), and his exploits have been earning column inches and full spreads in press such as Vanity Fair, XLR8R, Urban Socialites, Paper Mag, Fact, The Fader, ID Mag, Time Out London, The NY Times, and more. His music has reached the likes of celebrities such As female rappers Queen Latifah, Missy Elliott, Yo-Yo & Azealia Banks.

He has played around the globe at events such as MoMa PS1, Unsound Festival, Opening Ceremony, Turrbotax, Icee Hot, Ghetto Gothic, Fade To Mind & Night Slugs party nights, Boiler Room and shared the stage along side many great artists Such As Kingdom, Bok Bok, L-Vis 1990, NGUZUNGUZU, Girl Unit, Fatima Al- Qadiri, Rizzla, Total Freedom, Dubbel Dutch, Jubilee, Venus X, Kenny Dope, Karizma, Brenmar, DJ Sliink, DJ Sega, Lil Kim and others.

Local support from:
PlayPlay (that’s me!):