maandag 13 juni 2011

DJ ALIEN; running for the Moon and beyond...

Thanx to DJ ALIEN for knowledge and DCREAL67 fror driving my Brabant ass through Rotterdam.

Yes yes, I hear y'all thinking outloud! "Yo Chris, your blog is dope but what's up with topics on Holland's most important city in hip hop??!!". Damn skippy....I reckonized the need and travelled to Rotterdam to hook up with DJ ALIEN....a true Dutch hip hop pioneer without a fucking doubt!

Matthieu Stokman (DJ ALIEN) first came in touch with hip hop culture through a copy of Rolling Stone magazine his mother bought for him around 1980/81. At that point he was already writing punk-style graffiti. In 1983 ALIEN was breaking, dj-ing and writing hip hop-style graffiti, all to a very high level. With his friend Ritchie (who would built a carreer in hip hop also.....rapper DUVEL) he entered breakdance battles in youthcentres like Kwakoe, not without success.As a graffiti artist he became one of Holland's finest which allowed him to earn some cash by doing commercial paintjobs all over Rotterdam.

Graffiti by ALIEN, 1986, Rotterdam "Oude Noorden"

His breakdancing skills earned him a spot in the legendary Rotterdam breakdance crew DYNAMIC ROCKERS....a crew with topnotch breakers like EDSON THEMEN and PAOLO NUNES that became vice-worldchampion in 1984.

DYNAMIC BREAKERS (1985), ALIEN on the far right up.

Together with maybe DJ DCS and DJ SAVE, ALIEN was definately one of the earliest hip hop dj's in Rotterdam and therefore Holland. In 1983 he had his first performance together with JAZZ DMX, in Rotterdam club Arena (later: Nighttown). Just cutting up breaks over a drumcomputer and JAZZ DMX rapping....the essence. JAZZ DMX was already in a rapgroup with KAY BLACK by the time ALIEN met them. The group was called THE MOONRUNNERS (MR), after a gang in the movie "The Warriors". ALIEN joined MR and soon after another rapper/beatboxer joined; BLONNIE B. The quartet manifested themselves within Dutch hip hop history as one of the earliest groups.

DJ ALIEN, seen here with graffiti writer JEAN


In 1986 MR went through an important change. ROBIN GROENEVELD, an already wellknown promoter of musicevents, had an annual musicfestival going on in club Lantaren in Rotterdam. The event called "Nine to five festival" brought together all important Rotterdam musicians for shows and jamsessions. MR participated in 1986...after their show they joined a spontanious jamsession with musicians like TJEERD VAN ZANEN (gitar) and HANS EIKENAAR (drums). This must have been one of the earliest showcases featuring rapmusic with live musicians IN THE WORLD! The crowd went crazy and ROBIN GROENEVELD immediatly saw the potential of a collaberation. MR became a collective with a dj, rappers (TROUBLE S joined) and live musicians. The innovative hip hop band got booked for shows all over Holland, to great success. Matter of fact; a session done at De Vrije Vloer in Utrecht is said to be the direct inspiration and motivation for the establishment of another hip hop band.....URBAN DANCE SQUAD (see my blogtopic on SPYTE!!). This emphasizes how relevant MR are in Dutch music history....

ALIEN occasionally backed up rapper DEAMS, here seen at the
infamous hip hop showcase in the Amsterdam Vondelpark (1986)

Unfortunately it wasn't long before ALIEN found out that manager GROENEVELD was paying the "hip hop guys" much less then the musicians. This forced a break up within' MR; ALIEN and JAZZ DMX left the group early 1987, KAY BLACK and BLONNIE B stayed. DJ AUTOMATIC replaced ALIEN as the MR's dj. The group went on to do some live performances on Dutch radio (tracks like "Sarah" and "Funky like a train" therefore found their way on tapes from fans all around the country) and they did a few big shows all over Holland, like the Noorderslag open air event in Groningen (1988). The track "I feel fine" was used for a 1988 compilation album showcasing the upcomming Dutch rapgroups of that would unfortunately remain as the MR's only ever real recording.

THE MOONRUNNERS (1987); second line up with DJ AUTOMATIC (far left)

ALIEN had been in graffiti crew BAD BOYS for some time together with writers like JEAN, TIME, SONIC, DISZ and ATES. The crew even inspired cartoonartist ROBERT VAN DER KROFT to dedicate an entire comicbook (1987) of his succesfull "Sjors & Sjimmie" series to graffiti and the BAD BOYS in particular.

After a visit to England, ALIEN and JAZZ DMX had picked up on the word "posse". As ALIEN was already in the BAD BOYS graffiti crew, he decided to form a bigger group under the name BAD BOYS POSSE (BBP). In the the beginning it was just ALIEN and JAZZ DMX performing again as duo, and guys like JEAN painting but soon BBP would grow into the biggest hip hop movement Holland would ever see. Rotterdam proved to have very furtile grounds for the upcomming hip hop youthculture. Kids of immigrants, especially from Surinam and Cabo Verde, were atracted to the fresh new movement and found their own way of expressing themselves. BBP eventually had strength in numbers up to 1000 members in Rotterdam alone. Under the BBP umbrella a lot of rapgroups got formed...most notable being DCO, IN FULL EFFECT, SUPERSONIC CREW, SPACE CONNECTIONS and DOPE SYNDICATE. The sound was generally gimmicks. The groups performed all over Holland....scaring the hell out of promoters and clubowners when arriving with several touringcars full of b-boys at small venues. There was a definite downside to the whole BBP was accompenied with a lot of violence. Especially when the posse became so big that the core members lost total controll over it. For DJ ALIEN this was the mean reason to leave BBP in 1990.

Next to his work with JAZZ DMX, ALIEN found himself active (1988) within a new group; TIME DRILLERS (TD). TD evolved from a late '80's dancecrew called the 5TH AVENUE DANCERS. Rapper TOMBOX formed the nucleus of the group. The hardcore, noise-heavy, production of the group in combination with intense shows, made TD into one of the leading groups at the time. The track "Going up the hill" reached anthem status within the rapscene.


To get themselves noticed by recordcompanies TD agree on laying down some rap vocals on a PETER SLAGHUIS/PAUL ELSTAK hiphouse production. Belgian recordlabel ARS releases the track "Somebody in the house say yeah" in 1990. When SLAGHUIS dies (r.i.p.) TD produces their own tracks but the recordcompany doesn't believe there's any commercial potential and drops the group. Nevertheless TD keeps performing untill 1992 before breaking up.

ALIEN hooks up with old breakdance friend RED EYE (later: DUVEL) for musical projects like CLAN OF 26TH and CLAN STRONGHOLD. Slowly but surely ALIEN's music strays away from conventional hip hop and takes an experimental path. In 1997 he releases his first real solo project on vinyl through the FUSEBOX label. This album "Airborne" is a compilation of instrumental tracks that stylewise are hard to categorize. Check the album here:

Today ALIEN operates still out of Rotterdam, through his creative agency CITYCRUSHER. Latest project being a crazy hip hop cooking show called "Hip hop ala carte". The first show has rap pioneer DEF RHYMZ as a guest....check it: