James “DJ Needles” Gates announced earlier this week that JazzyPhatNappy, the weekly event he hosts on Thursdays at the 609 Restaurant and U Lounge in University City, will be held for the last time tomorrow evening. Needles has DJ’d the night for nearly four and a half years.
In explaining his decision Needles echoed many of the same sentiments he expressed in the RFT story Battle of the Beats, which detailed the conflicting cultures of underground and mainstream hip-hop in St. Louis clubs.
“I’m not too interested in doing too much over [at 609] anymore. It’s not because of the ownership, it’s gotten a stigma about itself. It’s just that place that doesn’t bring in the right crowd, at least not for me,” Needles says, expressing frustration that the crowd has been requesting a style of music he doesn’t play. “Quite honestly, from the requests I get weekly, [the audience] just looks at it like ‘Here’s a place with a black DJ, he’s going to have all the quote un-quote ‘black’ stuff they play on the radio. Sometimes you get frustrated and think, ‘Is it ever going to get better?’ Well maybe if I take a stand against things and move, maybe it will get better. If the crowd who goes there on Thursdays wants to keep doing their thing, I’ll move out of the way and let them do their thing.”
Needles describes the style of music he plays as a “gumbo pot of a lot of different rhythms,” including Afro-beat, funk, nu-soul, jazz, and hip-hop
“People need to get to know DJs like they get to know different bands or artists. Know their style, know what to ask them. If people would know their DJs they wouldn’t look at them like a jukebox,” he adds.
Needles says for now he is going to focus on work with his crew the Souilition, which features DJs Enoch, Willpower and Reminise. He also plans to host monthly events at varying locations with his production company Hustler of Culture.
Tomorrow night’s send-off will include a special guest DJ appearances by Enoch and Reminise.
The 609 Lounge’s owner and manager, Bernie Lee, did not return calls regarding who will replace Needles and JazzyPhatNappy on Thursdays at 609.
“They’re not going to have a much of problem to finding someone that can come in and play records,” Needles noted. “They have their own turntables and mixer. Not many places offer that.”