They say that to be a jack of all trades is to be a master of none, and while this saying may hold merit for others, it has yet to slow Joseph “Spclgst” Giampino down from his many crafts. The Raleigh-based DJ is known for his Midas touch on the turntables. I caught up with him at the hip hop extravaganza Mass Appeal, a monthly event held by a collective group of hip hop junkies including Spclgst. It’s his natural habitat; being surrounded by the funky sounds of a good time, b-boys stealing the spotlight with their light feet, friends from far and wide lip-synching songs, and graffiti on the patio with hookah smoke in the air.
“[Mass Appeal] focuses on our culture, our scene; things that sometimes get lost or is hidden from the mainstream,” said Spclgst as he prepared to play another track.
While he claims not to have a distinguished signature to mark his style, he takes pride in being taught by the original masters of the craft which he believes is what separates him from other DJs. With such an influence, his listeners are often taken back to the golden age of rap, his head phones bobbing every time he plays a familiar groove. Though some of hip hop’s most recent contributors may not be Joseph’s cup of tea, he remains open and supportive of the new pioneers, playing the songs that the people want to hear. Each set for a gig is hardly the same, giving his audience a variety that caters to any group of people.
“Depending on what environment I’m put in, I adapt which (being a DJ) is the most important thing,“ said Spclgst. “It all has its place. Who’s to say what’s bad and what’s good? What I like may not be what you like. Even early hip hop wasn’t all that good. They weren’t talking about nothing.”
The ability to adapt to any environment has lead Spclgst to be booked in many different clubs in the Raleigh area and elsewhere, and has even branched out to more corporate gigs. He composed a hip hop ballet for the NC Ballet in March as well as worked on projects with a lot of musicians. He’s even working on a secret project with a hip hop artist. The reason he believes he is in such high demand is because of the professionalism he gives his friends and peers. Because he often works with people so close to him, he makes sure that he gives it all that he’s got for their event to be a success.
“The more professional you are, the more respectful you are, the more people are willing to pay you,” said Spclgst, “Be smart; don’t burn bridges. Even when you don’t like someone, don’t treat anyone bad. Respect everyone, practice, stay creative, stay focused. When you’re in a rut, just keep going. If you don’t enjoy it anymore, stop doing it.”
Though his first love, the music isn’t the only thing to capture his heart. Hip Hop provides many ways for one to express his or her self, and for Joseph, it’s about doing everything he loves. When he’s not practicing on the turntables, he can be found in his studio painting or carving wood work. His love for art has lead him to other creative outlets as well such as design. As long as there is a way for him to express himself, Joseph will never stop creating.
“I love what I do; I’m on a permanent vacation,” said Spclgst.
A well respected DJ in the Raleigh area, Joseph “Spclgst” Giampino grew up with hip hop, becoming more involved with the lifestyle as the genre evolved. It became an artistic movement of expression through the common concept of free expression, giving its followers an uncut, unrehearsed interpretation of life through each other’s eyes. Joseph found his heart within the flow of creativity, and has since followed without question.
“Creativity is so satisfying. Something inside tells me that I have to do it, or I won’t be happy; it completes me. When you watch something you build grow…it’s happiness.”
MASS APPEAL is the freshest hip hop dance party in the Carolinas. Bringing together b-boys, writers, emcees and DJ’s and every hip hop head in between every 2nd Friday at Mosaic in downtown Raleigh. Come through and do what you do.
Want more? Catch Spclgst Friday, May 31st at the Lincoln Theatre, at the We Love The 90s Dance Party.