Benji B is a G. An original one. Homeboy basically knows every relevant DJ’s fourth grade-nickname. So with Benji bringing his Deviation showcase to New York City for the first time and announcing some surprise guest appearances to complement the already-prolific lineup of Lunice and Kode9, you would’ve been wrong to expect only small fish being pulled from NY’s discjockey pond on Independence night. The UK radio host and record connoisseur was actually unable to make the journey himself to throw down his set due to an unexpected visa delay, causing the US embassy to hold his passport and preventing him from coming.
The task of burning down the house was thus left to Benji’s associates that night – among them turning out to be none other than Just Blaze. Launching into his all-vinyl set with what was mostly his own production-work, Just reminded us of the countless certified smashes he has been responsible for over the years. From “U Don’t Know” to “Oh Boy” to “PSA” to “Roc the Mic” to “Flipside” to “Touch the Sky” and beyond – setting off a seemingly endless chain of “oh yeah, this tune exists and it’s dope”-moments.
When Montreal’s Lunice took over the boards next, much of the crowd was already warmed up sufficiently – even though a certain portion seemed to not grasp the significance of Just MFN Blaze throwing down a surprise DJ set. Sprinkling in the occasional golden era-dust (like “Hypnotize”), the LuckyMe-family member and Warp-affiliate mostly focused on heavy bass, heavy trap and the kind of tunes that those in the know will go bonkers over and others might just shake their head at (“Rooster In My Rari,” “Who Da Neighbors” or every single song that has 2 Chainz on it).
Following Lunice’s high-powered work-out (which at times had us slightly worried that dude might be in need of a neck brace any minute), Hyperdub-chieftain Kode9 brought out his flare guns for some more acoustic fireworks. The Doctor in Philosophy unleashed a few chest-assaulting juke-edits of stuff like “A Millie” and “N***as In Paris” – edits that will probably never see the light of day but could turn any set into a memorable one. Staying on the juke-side of things for the most part, dropping the inevitable “Out In the Streets” at just the right time, the London-based DJ gave proof through the night for why he is among electronic music’s most respected figures – and also why Benji’s Deviation events are nothing short of must-attends.
Thanks also to Zainab and Alice for putting together a great event, especially considering the last-minute pitfalls, and for having Okayplayer and Okayfuture involved. This was in fact Okayfuture’s flyer-debut! Okayfuture.com coming this Fall.