The Rocks Off 100: DJ Meshak, Hongree Records' Sound Selecter
Welcome to the Rocks Off 100, our portrait gallery of the most compelling profiles and personalities in the far-flung Houston music community -- a lot more than just musicians, but of course they're in there, too. See the entire Rocks Off 100 at this link.
A "selecta" was originally the guy who selected the reggae vinyls from the crate and passed them along to the person playing them through the sound system.
The term has since evolved to symbolize the DJ himself. DJ Meshak has been selecting reggae, dancehall, and dub records at art shows and warehouse parties in Houston for almost a decade. Foregoing fancy mixers, headphones and computers, Meshak uses an old telephone receiver to throw down one of the realest music experiences you will ever find in Houston.
Who? "Basically, I'm a dude who loves music and playing it the way I want to hear it,"Meshak opens. I'm lucky that others enjoy the way I play. I come from graffiti straight up, and I rep my crews forever."
Graff has influenced me in such a way that the principles I learned from it are applied to everything I do. I only play music I believe in, and I play it the way I like. I started DJing/selecting reggae when I had my son, who is now seven years old. I worked nights, and in the daytime he would be sitting in his swing while I played 45s.
I kept at it and progressed enough to be named as the American ambassador for the French soundsystem Soul Iration. I am the only member in the States, so I push it as hard as I can every time. I love reggae music. I built my own soundsystem complete with 18" scoops -- all made by hand, [and] my son even spent some nights at my work warehouse helping me.
Because I got known around town for playing art shows and parties, The homie Big Gerb put me down with Hongree Records as their official DJ. I believe in them because they are straight Houston. G-shit.
They spit on a heavyweight level not many can come close to and are some of Houston's finest. I am honored to be a part of that clique.
Home Base: "My home base is basically my bedroom," Meshak says. "I pride myself in being self-sufficient. I have three sets of speakers for whatever type of event I play. I am a soundman as much as I am a DJ, which comes from my reggae side.
"I practice every day and love all the old-school battle DJs," he continues. "I am not concerned with all the fancy CD-Js and MIDI pads and stuff...the same turntables I have in my room are the ones I take to events.
"I am a working-class dad and I have responsibilities," he adds. "I have never been a kid that lives with family and gets to fuck off all day getting high and practicing. I'm not hating, but that's what I feel like I'm up against -- kids who are vicious on the decks who ain't got shit to do but wreck it. It's tough competition."
Someone You Admire: "Of course as far as DJing goes, I respect the king, DJ Screw -- who is, in the words of FAT TONY, 'Killing sucka DJs from beyond the grave,'" says Meshak. "I want to take the time to say that most people love and respect him for creating the sound, but as a DJ, he was mind-blowing.
"You don't really know what time it is until you get lifted and bump a Screw tape as a DJ and recognize all the technical abilities he had," he adds. "He is one of those people that makes me feel like, 'Why even try?' He killed the game done dead!"
Why Do You Stay in Houston?: "I stay in Houston because I love my motherfuckin' city," he says. "I could move and get rep elsewhere, but why not stay here and travel? It's cheap, and I have enough connects to go overseas or each coast stateside. Mexico is poppin' too.
"But my first and foremost concern is my son," adds Meshak. "If it weren't for him, I wouldn't be holding it together and, uh, responsible. Because laws and society don't mean shit to me."
Good War Story: "No war stories (yet) about DJing, but it is hard work being a one-man sound system," says Meshak. "I carry all my speakers and equipment myself, set it up, sound test, break down, load up and take it home. Then unpack.
"My boy Slur lived close to me and I would have to call him every time I had a gig where I brought the 18s [speakers] out," he continues. "He would help me take them up and down the stairs of my apartment. Now I keep them at work and load them up myself.
"Being a single father is tough on a man, because squeezing in that practice time can be tough when I gotta go over spelling words and math problems on top of cooking dinner and making lunch."
Music Scene Pet Peeve: My only pet peeve with the music scene here is HOUSTON WHY YOU NO LOVE REGGAE MUSIC NO MORE? LIKE FORREAL?" bemoans Meshak. "That and going to gigs and the musicians treating you like an iPod. I may not technically play an instrument, but I practice hard and respect my art.
"Maybe it's because everyone's a 'DJ,' and the real ones are few and far between," he adds. "You ain't artsier than me, though, you bohemian musician boy!"
Five Desert Island Discs:
Mobb Deep, Infamous: "They gave away so much game on that record. Like life codes to live by and shit. It's gotten me through a lot of um, predicaments."
Bunny Wailer, "Rise and Shine" (12", Solomonic): "This is the essence of dub for me. It is uplifting and a message of get the fuck up, it's your time to shine."
Anything by Andre Nickatina: "Period. His style is unorthodox and he is a pimp-ass MC who gives away so much game. You can tell he is passionate about his music, so much it's spiritual for him."
Black Sabbath, Paranoid: "No explanation necessary."
Anything by ANTWON: "New-school shit is dope, but there is so much stuff out there right now. I can honestly say I feel all of ANTWON's shit. He's all depressed, but confident and making moves. Like 'Fuck life, it's the best.'"
"Also, I cannot leave out my Soul Iration dubplates," Meshak adds. "Nothing like hearing your crew being big upped on a track by a famous artist."
Best Show Ever: "The best experience I had DJing was at Lee Power's memorial," he says. "I was super-blitzed and I just played how I do in my room by myself. It was a beautiful moment and a beautiful night. Devin the Dude killed it."
What Is Your Next Show/Project? "I have a million projects," he says. "I still paint 'murals' (legally, fuck you very much), have projects as far as my sound, and video editing.
"I hardly finish any tapes because I evolve so much I ditch the effort," adds Meshak. "I have resolved to be better about that this year. I'm going to release even three-to-four song mixes, like a current-state-of-affairs of shit I'm listening to. Of course, my ongoing never-ending project is repping my crews DTS, RTL, GRAVEYARD, DBA, SOUL IRATION, AND HONGREE RECORDS!"
Meshak is DJing an art show for his friend Melanie Loew March 15 at Fresh Arts Gallery, 2101 Winter.
See who else has joined The Rocks Off 100 this year on the next page.
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