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People,Places and Things:Rich Medina

Special to Informer | , John Richards | 3/26/2012, 12:09 p.m.

An interview with veteran DJ, Rich Medina

DJ, Producer and all around renaissance man, DJ Rich Medina (Richard Medina) has been rocking crowds from NYC to Japan with his unique blend of hip-hop, house, Afrobeat, funk and soul for nearly twenty years. His parties in Philadelphia and NYC are legendary. He's performed and collaborated with several chart toping artists including: Jill Scott, Erykah Badu, Lauryn Hill, The Roots, Roy Ayers, Antibalas and Fema Kuti. But perhaps, his greatest contribution to music is introducing a new generation of people to Afrobeat music with his Jump N Funk dance parties. Jump N Funk, created by Rich in 2001, celebrates the life and music of legendary Fela Kuti. The Washington Informer caught up with Rich ahead of his set at the Eighteenth Street Lounge (ESL) to discuss his 30,000 + record collection, his time on "Smirnoff's Master of the Mix", being a father and everything else in between. Attention all DJ's: If you're looking for that one record and you just can't seem to find anywhere, Rich probably has it.

Washington Informer: For the people, who may not know you, please introduce yourself.

Rich Medina: Peace everybody. This is Rich Medina.

Washington Informer: You've said that you come from a family of collectors. Who or what inspired you when you first got started?

Rich Medina: Honestly, my real direct DJ inspiration was my older sister's first husband. My sister is 18 years older than me; her first husband was the local, around the way, Elks club, VFW DJ. He would go play parties on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays at the Elks Club. I was born into watching somebody gather records, practicing DJing and getting themselves together for a set.

Washington Informer: How influential has Fela Kuti been for you and what inspired the Jump N Funk party?

Rich Medina: Fela has influenced me tremendously. Fela gave me a brand new lens on the notion of being pro-black. The vast majority of my heroes prior to coming into knowledge about Fela were American; the pro black perspective from American artists is a particular angle. But to hear those same sentiments coming from a brother from Lagos Nigeria; the home of black on black crime, the home of colonization, the home of oil, and all of that, it just really opened me up to a completely different mindset.

Washington Informer: Unfortunately, a lot of people still have no idea who Fela is.

Rich Medina: It's just a beautiful piece of Black history that I think is missing from a great deal of our houses as black Americans. So I feel really blessed that once I was turned on to it, what I realized was that there were no disc jockeys in my community - or in any other community of my friends that I associated with on a regular basis - who were championing that sound. I don't consider myself deep for doing it but I definitely feel that I beat a great deal of people to the punch.