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Black Is Beautiful 2020 – Uncle Jamm’s Army

The first time I heard the name “Uncle Jamm’s Army” was in 2005. I was reading “Can’t Stop Won’t Stop” by Jeff Chang. They mentioned in the book and in the accompanying Dj D-Sharp mixtape. The Army is one of the most influential DJ crews in Los Angeles, California, and the US. Originally called Unique Dreams Entertainment, the crew was founded by DJ/promoter Roger Clayton. The crew would only consist of a handful of members at that time including Dr Funkenstein, Bobcat, Gid & Tony Martin, Les Sounds, and Egyptian Lover. But it would go on to have at least 15 members. Some of them did security, promotions, sound, or business. But most were professional party rockers. They DJed house parties, high school dances, prom’s, and would later throwing their own parties. They competed with other crews around at that time such as “World Class Wrecking Crew” (Lonzo, Yella, Dr. Dre) and LA Dream Team (Snake Puppy, Rudy Pardee).

The records and style of playing music later became the blueprint for one of LA’s first stations to play hip hop, KDAY. Founded in 1977 and existing until 1988 formally, the crew grew so popular that they packed arena’s meant for super stars with thousands of young people. The Army’s sound mixed Electro, New Wave, Funk, Techno, Rock, and an exploding new genre called Hip Hop. In fact, ask any DJs from LA or Cali and they will tell you what an impact they had on DJs generations after them. They’d hook up a dozen amplifiers, over 30 huge Cerwin Vega speakers and subwoofers, and eventually cats like Egyptian Lover started incorporating live drum machine beats and 808’s. They even put out their own records. And in the midst of rapidly growing gang war between the Crips, Bloods, and many other sets their dances provided a space for young people of all types to dance, socialize, be creative, and have fun.

Recently the crew was officially honored by the City of Los Angeles with October 28th becoming “Uncle Jamm’s Army” day. I want to give a shout out to its members, fans, supporters, and the DJs who were influenced by them including The Mixmasters and The Beat Junkies. I hope that Black History Month recognitions in the future will include them, the scene they created, and the sound they made flourish. Rest In Peace to its founder Roger Clayton.

In this image I wanted to portray just a few of guys as a representation of group which was much larger than 5 men. I also wanted to picture an analog record since that was the foundation of their sound. And lastly, I illustrated people dancing and having fun.

Sources: LA Weekly, Red Bull Music Academy Documentary, Cant Stop Won’t Stop

Wanna see more? Check out  this illustration about Camp Atwater HERE.

Character 141 – Pulling Speakers

I was a bedroom DJ who still loves music. I bought my first 1200 at 15 or so. I remember lugging equipment around to teach young people the little I knew about mixing, scratching, and hip hop history. To my DJs out there, do you remember the first time you bought a turntable, carried a speaker, or a crate to your first gig?