June 14 2011 11:37 PM

Our semi-regular feature in which we talk to local hip-hop heads and let them tell us whom we're talking to next

djrags
DJ Rags

The man: Rick Amezcua, better known as DJ RAGS

The music: Rags will play damn near anything his audience asks for. “The crowd pretty much dictates what I get into,” he says. “My skill is to be able to read crowds easily and adjust.” Mostly, the crowd asks for hip-hop and house, but Rags' influences range from obscure turntablists to Depeche Mode. “I'd like to think my musical knowledge goes way beyond what I play,” he adds.

The scene: A DJ in San Diego clubs since before he could legally enter a bar (he started when he was 15), Rags holds residencies at On Broadway Friday nights and Onyx / Thin every other Saturday.

The story: Thanks to an older brother in the music business, turntables and vinyl records were a big part of Rags' upbringing. He started by playing at weddings and other corporate events but eventually got good enough to hold his own in Downtown clubs.

“But, back then, there wasn't really a Gaslamp scene like there is now,” he says. “It was more like restaurants that converted into clubs at night.”

Rags spun records by night and sold them by day at his brother's shop, the now-closed ACMF Records in Chula Vista, and amassed a vinyl collection that took up three rooms in his house. He eventually made the switch to a digital Serato system and sold his entire collection, but he still digs the sentiment of vinyl.

After years in the club scene, Rags took his turntable skills to the radio waves and hosted a hip-hop and live-mix show on San Diego's Z90 from roughly 1993 to 2001. After a short stint as the music director at Blazin 98.9, he left radio, possibly for good.

“When hip-hop started commercializing and not being as creative, I kind of lost interest in radio,” he says.
These days, Rags is focusing on his weekly residencies and being a dad. In his spare time, he's been working on scoring the movie Geezers!, starring J.K. Simmons and Tim Allen, set for release in October.

As for the health of the local hip-hop scene, he says it's been good to him in the past, and it continues to support him. He says the people who complain about the scene are just being lazy and don't know where to look.

“I hate hearing mthrfckrs talk like there's no real hip hop in SD or like they're gonna bring it back,” Rags (@djrags01) tweeted on June 5. “It never left. Just cuz it's not on the radio. Go find it! Dudes like @IamCROS1, @DJARTISTIC, @Felt1ssc, @mrhek are keeping it alive and well!”

Who's CityBeat talking to next?: Mike “Mikeski” Degrassia

Calendar

  • The renowned Mexican black and white photographer presents an exhibition exploring the principal themes within three groups: "Bestiarium"," Fantastic Women" and "Silent Natures."
  • Presented by Pacific Arts Movement, the sixth annual mini film fest features 14 film programs from 10 countries that includes everything from docs to romantic tearjerkers. See website for full lineup and...
  • Debunk some of the stereotypes surrounding cannibalism at this new exhibition that takes a hands-on approach to the subject. Includes video games and interactive activities where patrons will have to decide...
  • The former local boy and creator of the highly influential blog, Advanced Style, will be signing and discussing his third book, Advanced Style: Older and Wiser, which features inspiring pictures and stories...
  • C.J. Chenier and Bonsoir Catin headline this annual Cajun inspired festival. Also enjoy 10,000 pounds of crawfish, dancing and cooking demonstrations. Held at Spanish Landing Park, across from the...
  • A Cinco de Mayo party featuring $2 tacos, cocktails and live music from Bostich+Fussible, Javiera Mena and Gepe
  • A spoken word showcase hosted by English instructor Karla Cordero and her City College students. There will also be a special reading from poet Mercedez Holtry, as well as an art and photography show....
  • Widely known as host of "Weekend Update" on Saturday Night Live and for his role in the Showtime dramedy Weeds, Kevin Nealon brings his unique humor back to the stand-up stage
  • New works from over a dozen UCSD undergraduate students. Participating artists include Charity Algarme, Richard Lin, Joseph Maas, Ignatius Nguyen, and more
  • This video art exhibition from UCSD MFA candidate Stefani Byrd features two installations that explore the themes of breath, mediation, and the nature of time. Takes place in the VAF Performance Space,...
See all events on Thursday, May 5