Konkrete Jungle comes to Atlanta
by Toshia Sheets
photos by Sabrina Sexton Weil
In anticipation of Konkrete Jungle Atlanta's grand opening on Thursday, February 16, Lunar writer Toshia Sheets sat down with The PermaGrin Family's MJ and DJ Wednesday in their venue, Studio Central.
Lunar: How did the idea for Konkrete Jungle Atlanta come about?
MJ: That was his idea.
DJ Wednesday: Basically, that was my brainchild, and there was really nobody representing the underground in ATL that was worthy of coming in on this venture except for MJ. As long as I've been here I've been here since, I guess, '97 (I came here from South Florida) and MJ was the only one who was representing the real underground scene and representing the music for the people, not the industry. There's a big difference, ya know? And I think in 2001, the scene is divided down the middle. There are people who are in it for the industry and then there are people who are in it for the community and the people. We represent the people, the community, as one. And it manifested. We have a lot of positive people in behind us that are pushing for us.
Lunar: Why did you choose Studio Central as the location for KJ ATL?
MJ: Well, we looked through like seven different venues that we were trying to do it at. Basically what happened is my boy is the General Manager here and he used to be the General Manager here like two years ago...they had some other management company in here then that were kinda running the place into the ground, and my boy came back in and took over again about 1-1/2 months ago. And he was like, "If you're still looking for a venue to do this at, we can do it at Studio," and I was like, "Werd." We came in and politicked a deal and everybody was happy and here it is!
DJ Wednesday: If you're positive with your movements, then good things happen for you. Positive people attract other positive people. And before you know it, it manifests itself...so now we're here!
Lunar: What do you think about the negativity that's been surrounding the Drum & Bass community lately?
MJ: I think it's bullshit! I think these little suburban 17-year-old kids that listen to too much Tupac and then all of a sudden, project that into the Drum & Bass scene and think you've gotta fight everywhere you go to be true and you've gotta show how hard you are and you've gotta sling drugs and all that fuckin' JayZ and Tupac shit is late. I mean, that's like early '90s shit to me. We're on what's gonna be going on in 2010, when nobody's gonna be doing that because I was in cities like LA and New York and shit like that doesn't fly up there, because people will get fucked up over this shit. Shit doesn't go on like that down here in Atlanta and that's why everybody thinks they can play down here because nothing's ever done about it. I just think it's all bullshit. I mean...it's negative.
DJ Wednesday: Personally, coming from DJ Wednesday, there is no negativity on the scene. There's youth out there that are misunderstood.
DJ Wednesday: Everybody just wants to belong. That's what Konkrete Jungle that's why we're doing this is to unify the jungle scene. Ya know what I mean? I'm a B-boy! I'm not a kid! I'm a B-boy, I own my own record label, and I travel all over the country spinning. And I see the scene for what it is. I mean, I'm an original raver. I'm a New York City club-head. I've been raving when half these kids were in grade school, literally. So I'm not a child. And it's just like the scene has always been a safe-haven for the subculture. Regardless if you're a punk, or a B-boy or a hippie. If you don't belong, you can come to the rave and be free. That's what we strive for. We don't push pills, we don't like K-heads, we don't like Rohypnol and all that bullshit that goes on in the ravey-davey scene, because we are not "ravers." We are Junglists. This is Konkrete Jungle. If you want to come and get conscious, then come. If you don't, then go to the other (party). I mean, there's plenty of "pop raves" going on. But we don't do that. That's not how we get down and that's not what we stand for. We represent the true vibe.
MJ: Parties started anyway like at the very core of why parties started happening underground, outside of licensed clubs up in Chicago and Detroit in the mid '70s out of the disco era and shit was because people were trying to escape life on the streets. They were trying to go somewhere where everybody could come together and it didn't matter what color you were, it didn't matter what God you prayed to or
DJ Wednesday: Gender bender...
MJ: Yeah! None of that shit matters! And that's why parties started happening in the first place. Because it was all-inclusive. There were no words to the music when it first started, just beats and basslines and bleeps and blips. So everybody could relate to it. There's no like...you've gotta be from a certain lifestyle to comprehend what a singer is saying or anything like that. And now with the introduction of Drum & Bass and MC's and stuff like that...any true MC all they're speaking about is positivity and spreading the vibe. All this other gangster shit is fuckin' ridiculous. I don't understand any of that!
DJ Wednesday: It's cool! I mean...I feel all that...but the gangster vibe is real. That's reality to some people. But when you go out of your way...when you're from the suburbs, and say "that's the role I want to play, I wanna be a gangster," and you play that role, you're bringing that vibration into your realm. You're bringing that vibration into your reality. So people need to be careful about how they view what they want to be. Because that will come on you. If you ain't a real G and you're acting like a G...[shrugs]... ya know what I mean? So I don't portray that.
Lunar: So you just want to work really hard to make sure everything stays positive?
DJ Wednesday: We're here for the people, baby!
MJ: Yeah! The whole reason we're doing this is to bring something positive to Atlanta. We could be doing anything. Like, Wednesday is a pro-golfer and I went to school for Law. We could both be doing other things with our lives. We've been doing this for a long time...neither one of us are new to the game at all.
DJ Wednesday: I was that kid, 10 years ago, in the rave looking at the G like "Wow!" Ya know? I was that kid. But that was 10 or 11 years ago, ya know? I've been spinning records for 17 years!
Lunar: Do you think everyone goes through that phase?
DJ Wednesday: Absolutely! It's evolution. In the underground, we're ahead of everybody. We set trends. We set the trends for the rest of above-ground America. They peep what we're doing, so they can make money off of it. But it's not about that. I don't care if I die rich or poor. As long as my heart is in the right place and I'm fighting the good fight, it's cool. I'm a child of God. I'm here to fight the good fight! I make kids that step into darkness, step out of darkness and be conscious about their decisions and not be zombies.
MJ: But the reason that we're both working so hard to bring Konkrete to Atlanta the reason that it has manifested itself is solely for that Atlanta scene. It's not giving us any more clout or any more fame or anything like that. People in the Drum & Bass scene already know who we are. We're not doing it for recognition. We're doing it basically to flip up. Ya know...to flip up everything that's going on in Atlanta and to educate kids. That's the most important thing that I think I'm doing it for is so many people right now in Atlanta feel like they would give their life for Drum & Bass. Like "I love it with all my heart and blah blah blah" and they don't know anything about it. All they know is stuff like Dieselboy and what's been thrown in their face. So we wanna bring some stuff that Atlanta's never seen before.
DJ Wednesday: We're not downin' Dieselboy! He's a dope DJ! Damien's been down since Day 1. But what we do and what he does are two different things. The Drum & Bass scene is split down the middle. And the side that we represent is a little more edgy, ya know what I mean? It's gotta a little more feel to it, it's a little more urban. That's just how it is. I mean, you either step to the light or you don't. We give you that choice. But if you're a true Junglist, and you live in Atlanta, and you ain't spinning Konkrete Jungle Atlanta with your own dub-plates, then what are you saying, yo? That's just how it is.
Lunar: You've said you're bringing Konkrete Jungle to Atlanta. Is this something that's going on in other cities?
MJ: Right...it's been going on in New York for a little under seven years now and about four years in LA.
DJ Wednesday: It's the longest-running Drum & Bass party in the U.S. of A! There's one in New York, there's one in LA, and now there's one in Atlanta.
MJ: It's the longest-running Drum & Bass event ever in history.
Lunar: Do you think the Drum & Bass community in Atlanta is growing?
MJ: Oh yeah! Without a doubt! When we were actually able to begin negotiating deals to bring Konkrete Jungle to Atlanta, they were all for it! (A) Because of who Wednesday and me already are, and (B) because they felt like Atlanta was strong enough to represent Konkrete Jungle on a nationwide scale.
DJ Wednesday: It's like this: I spin all over the country and Atlanta has the strongest Drum & Bass and Jungle scene in the U.S.
MJ: Without a doubt!
DJ Wednesday: So, it was a no-brainer! It just so happened that I had the vision for that and I made that manifest.
MJ: I remember you [Wednesday] telling me about that on the steps of Fusion like a year and a half ago...
DJ Wednesday: It's not me and MJ! We're just mouthpieces!
DJ Wednesday: The Drum & Bass community in the Atlanta willed for this one. So they are the ones that made Konkrete Jungle Atlanta! It's not us. This is just the foundation for the kids in the scene, the jungle scene, who want to do something positive in their lives, to come up in here and do what they wanna do, rather than be at home. That goes for crews...Rydim Ryderz, ShadowLaw, Team Rollers.... Whoever you are in Atlanta, if you've got a jungle crew, you're home! Konkrete Jungle Atlanta! Why? Because MJ and me are bigger than all of that. Because anybody can talk shit and hate on people because they play a certain kinda jungle that they don't like and whatever it may be. It's not about that. It's about all of us coming together, working together, and trying to evolve to the next level.
Lunar: And make the community stronger....
DJ Wednesday: Thank you! Exactly!!
Lunar: Why did you decide to make this a weekly event, instead of a monthly thing?
MJ: Well, there are weeklies in New York and weeklies in LA already, so that's first and foremost. It wouldn't make sense to take something that's already a weekly event in two other cities and make it a monthly event here. That would be like saying Atlanta is weaker than the other cities, or whatever. Also, I think, to educate people you've gotta hit them over the head. You've gotta keep educating them week in and week out! You've gotta bring shit they've never seen before...you've gotta let them know that the DJ's that are always in Atlanta spinning Drum & Bass aren't the only DJ's out there! There are DJ's that, in any other city of the world, they're huge! But no one in Atlanta's ever heard of them. And I think a weekly is the only way to do that. To educate people, you've gotta constantly let them know what's going on! And you can't do that on a month-to-month basis. What would make us any different from any other promotion company if we were just doing a once-a-month Drum & Bass party? That's what every other promoter here is doing, anyway. This is the first time anything has ever come to Atlanta on a national scale. This is the first time any strong weekly has ever come to Atlanta. And I've been doing weeklies here forever, at the Vault, Fusion, whatever. But that was just like "Let's do a little club night." This is the first time that anything of this magnitude has ever touched down in the Atlanta.
Lunar: Do you think it will last? Do you think Atlanta can handle it?
MJ: Without a doubt! We're gonna be here regardless! Whether people wanna hate on it or embrace it, we're gonna be here! Because it's an unstoppable force. There's nothing that can happen.
DJ Wednesday: The community is the one that's made us go here. It's here as long as the people are here. Because it's for them...it's from them. It will always be here.
Lunar: What kind of talent are you bringing in?...
MJ: It's a surprise!
Lunar: ...Except for the surprise that you won't tell me about! (grrrr!)
DJ Wednesday: We're bringing in people that represent the real Jungle and Drum & Bass, and that's their life. People that do it for a hobby and are trying to get into the scene...they get no play in Konkrete Jungle. If you're making your own dub-plates, if you're pushing the sound, if you're staying positive, you're here! We don't even have to name names, because people know who they are.
MJ: It's gonna be some shit that Atlanta's ready for, but they've never seen it before. So all they need to do is fasten their seatbelts and get prepared! But as far as naming names....
DJ Wednesday: It's not even about all that. It's about positive people with the like energy coming together willing for positive things and willing to be better people, yo. We are not dark people. And a lot of the reasons we get player-hated on is because a lot of people are offended by the light. Because a lot of people live in darkness. And when you come to a Konkrete Jungle show, we'll shine the light on you and expose who you really are! We'll expose what's really going on in your heart. And if you can't deal with it, if you can't deal with the light, then make your way to the exit.
MJ: Step to the left!
DJ Wednesday: For real! We're here for our hardcore dance crew...people who wanna dance and get enlightened. If you're coming here to pop drugs and all that other wack shit, yo, make your way to the left. For real! We're not having that up in here!
DJ Wednesday: We're children of positive energy...of positive light, yo. We don't walk in darkness. And when you come up in the realm, you'll feel that positive vibration. Some people get offended by that...vampires get offended by it, ya know what I'm saying? When ya come up in, your vibe better be correct, or you're getting exposed!
Lunar: What do you hope to accomplish on a personal level with Konkrete Jungle?
DJ Wednesday: Personally, I wanna see every local Atlanta DJ that I think is dope, blow up on a national level. And by our residence at Konkrete Jungle, carrying that name behind their name will get them noticed on a national level. And a lot of them deserve it! As far as I'm concerned, Atlanta's got the dopest local DJ's in the USA, by far! It's off the hook in ATL, yo!
MJ: To me, like, everything I've wanted to do, I've already done. I've been doing this for eight years. The only thing I want to achieve, personally, by bringing Konkrete to the ATL is to unite the Atlanta scene and expose the DJ's here in Atlanta on a national level because I've traveled to a lot of cities and Atlanta's just blowing everybody away right now! Nobody can hold a candle to the talent in Atlanta. And really, all I wanna do is make the whole crowd bounce! That's all I've ever wanted to do. One day I'll be making records and up there playing on that stage myself.
Lunar: With the talent you're bringing in, why are you only charging $10? How is that going to compare to a $30 party?
MJ: Well, that's another thing! I know that I, personally, and Wednesday does as well...I get outraged with the cost of parties! Because I know, from throwing parties so long like I have.... When I step into someone else's party, I can tell you exactly how much it cost and I know exactly how much they made and I can look at a room and tell you exactly how many people are in it. Atlanta kids get ripped off a lot! I'm not saying that promoters here are shady or anything like that, but Atlanta kids really get the short end of the stick a lot! And I don't think it's cool! I think we have the ability to make parties cheaper and to bring DJ's that Atlanta kids are never going to see unless Konkrete brings them, and keep it at a fair price!
DJ Wednesday: I look at it this way. The kids that I want to come in here, can't afford to go to parties because they're overpriced!
MJ: We're not in it for the money, so that doesn't even factor into our price.
DJ Wednesday: $10 a head keeps us up and running. And it keeps it available to the kids who don't have too much loot to get in here and it's reasonable for the person that's just out for a night on the town.
MJ: If I had it like that, I would throw free parties all the time! I used to run a little warehouse behind Masquerade and threw free parties there all the time. I don't know what it's called now...we tried to call it "Group Therapy" but everyone just called it "MJ's" anyway, because I lived in the loft above it and we did free shit there all the time because that, to me, is the most positive vibe. The only reason we're charging $10 here is because we've gotta pay for stuff. We've gotta pay for airfare and keeping the lights on and the venue and shit like that. It keeps it up and running!
Lunar: Electricity is good!
MJ: Yeah, electricity is good!
DJ Wednesday: Hey, Dad...thanks for knockin' out that rent!
MJ: But we could easily be charging $15 to $20 for the lineups that we're going to be bringing. But we're not doing it to be millionaires. We're already satisfied with our lives the way they are.
DJ Wednesday: And we'll be having champagne toasts. One thing about Konkrete Jungle is when you come up in Konkrete Jungle, we ain't on some dirty crackhead raver shit! We're on some...ladies dress to impress, champagne toasts, toasts to the MC's, toasts to the DJ's and celebrate life! It's not about going off into your hole and crawling off into a speaker and shit. It's about realizing who you are and stepping to the light. We put the spotlight on the people. We're not the superstars...the community is the superstars! They're the ones who make it happen. We just push the message! We're just trying to create an environment where people can feel like they're home, yo! Ya know, take off your shoes, relax, and chill! All the shit that's going on in your life, forget about that for these six hours! It's not about makin' loot! I don't care if I die broke or rich! As long as people around me are comfortable and happy, that's what it's about. That other shit is late! If I can make somebody happy, then damn! Boom! My job is done!
MJ: That's like why people become DJ's, why people become musicians...that's why all the real people become promoters. It's because the applause and the cheer at the end of the night is enough. People that are in it for the money are raping the fuckin' scene! And if I had my way, then I'd smack 'em all in the mouth.
DJ Wednesday: We can't help it! I mean...anything that a lot of people like is gonna pop, and anytime something goes pop, big business is involved. You've gotta charge a lot of money to keep big business where they are. It's just like that.
MJ: I think a lot of people are gonna have to fix up! Once they see the caliber of events that are gonna happen at Konkrete Jungle and once they see how low the door prices are gonna be and once they see how good the venue is since they've remodeled it and everything...I think Atlanta's just gonna have to fix up. The promoters are gonna have to fix up and the kids are gonna have to fix up. We're gonna flip up the Atlanta scene...I really believe that with all my heart! It's gonna change everything.
DJ Wednesday: It's gotta go to the next level! Right now, as far as I'm concerned I haven't been booked in Atlanta in a year!
MJ: It's stagnant here, it's ridiculous!
DJ Wednesday: Personally, I haven't been booked in Atlanta for a year. But I've played everywhere else in the country. Why is that?
MJ: It's all about to change! At least on the Drum & Bass side of things!
Lunar: That's great! Shedding some positive light on a scene that gets a lot of negative attention!
DJ Wednesday: Everywhere I go, all people can talk about is how they go to SE-raves and Atlanta people talk shit about the scene...and in the eyes of the rest of the country, we are the most political, on some bullshit rave politics in the country! I hear that everywhere I go, from Arizona to Detroit to Florida! It's just like, "You're in Atlanta? Whoa!" So we're gonna shed some light on Atlanta and let them know that there's only a few cats that make it appear like that in Atlanta! And they're gonna get exposed! That's how it is!
Lunar: It sounds like you guys have a good thing planned here! And the venue looks awesome!
MJ: Yeah! I'm glad you like it! It's got a warm vibe. Like I said, everything culminated together and my family becoming the General Manager here...that was meant to happen! Everything came together in the cosmos for Konkrete (Atlanta) to take place in this venue, in this city!
DJ Wednesday: You can't deny the majestic vibe! It's tight! We've got 2 full bars, 2 VIP sections.... People can spread out and make themselves at home!
MJ: And the space.... Nobody can ever say, "I don't have enough room to dance!"
DJ Wednesday: We'll have ambient Drum & Bass and Hip-Hop in one room and Jungle and Drum & Bass in the other.
Lunar: How is the sound in here? Does it echo, bleed through over to the other room?
MJ: No...well, there's no bleed-over now, but we're going to put up a light lead curtain to separate it because we want this to be on some whole other level. Like this section is gonna be like the "high-class" and that's gonna be like the raw....
DJ Wednesday: Swanked out! Chill!!
MJ: Yeah! This is gonna be the "mack" area and that's gonna be the "let your gorilla loose" area! [laughs]
Lunar: That's alright...I can dance in heels!
DJ Wednesday: Jungle Goddesses, werd! Mad love to all the ATL Jungle Goddesses! You know who you are! I don't have to mention any names....
MJ: It's gonna be some shit! Believe that!
DJ Wednesday: It's for the people!
Lunar: OK, I don't want to keep you guys too much longer. Anything you want to add?
MJ: I just want to say: Atlanta get ready to fix up, because we're about to bring a whole 'nother vibe that you've never seen before to the ATL and you ain't gonna have no choice but to fix up!
DJ Wednesday: Step to the real! Step to the real! Don't front!
MJ: You're either gonna get left in the dust or you're gonna have to fix the fuck up! That's all there is to it!
Konkrete Jungle: Maximum Drum N Bass
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