When you talk about world class DJs who spin that real... one of the first DJs you think about is the Nostalgia King himself.. Skeme Richards! Skeme blessed Official Crate Music with an incredible interview where he drops knowledge on Philly, the Second City of Hip Hop... his worldwide Hot Peas and Butta parties.. and more. Check it out!
Give us a brief history of Skeme Richards...
I'm a DJ, Producer, burger connoisseur and a collector of all things fresh that started DJing in 1981. I'm from Philly... the home of the DJ and travel the globe playing records while familiarizing my brand Hot Peas and Butta to the world.
I have big respect for Philly DJs. I went to college near Philly in the late 1980's and alot of my friends were either from Philly or from South Jersey. All I would hear about were the Philly DJs like Spinbad, Cash Money, Jazzy Jeff, etc. Philly is definitely the second city of Hip Hop and I heard about you a long time ago. Big respect to you. I know that you are also known as the "Nastalgia King". What other things do you collect besides records?
I guess you can say I’ve been a collector since childhood even though I wasn’t conscious of starting a collection because I was just keeping things around me that I liked. But my collection varies and contains of course records but also rare performance footage, old school TV shows, cartoons and movies on VHS, vintage movie posters, toys from the 70s like GI Joe with the Kung Fu Grip, Star Wars figures, handheld electronic games, pinball and arcade machines, race car and train sets, comic books and also art.
What’s the greatest Kung Fu flick ever made (besides "Enter The Dragon")?
Enter The Dragon is such a classic and it’s hard to even match that film because Bruce Lee is the king but I would have to say 5 Fingers of Death because that was the first movie to hit the theaters here in the states and created the Kung Fu movie craze.
I know that you DJ all over the world, B-boy events, Funk 45 parties etc. Where is your favorite spot/city/country to play in?
It’s always hard to pick just one place because I’ve had great times in so many countries but Japan always tops my list because of their appreciation of black music and black culture in general. Playing Funk, Soul, Jazz and Rare Groove there always feels so good. I could play at my favorite spot called The Room in Tokyo one night Osaka the next and Fukuoka the following and that same energy travels across the country. But I will say, when playing House music, I love Amsterdam!
I love overseas breaks/grooves the most...what country do you like to dig in most?
I would definitely say I love digging in The Netherlands (Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Utrect etc) the most. I always find so many records there that haven’t left the country or are below most people’s radar. A few years back I really started digging up on Dutch Modern Soul records and got hooked. But there’s so much to be discovered in that country as with so many European countries.
What style/genre do you like to collect most?
That actually changes from time to time. Early on I was of course looking for Jazz or Soul records to sample from. But as I got older and my ear and tastes matured I started appreciating things different and not so much for the sample but to listen to as a whole. But when I’m out on the hunt looking for records the first things I search for are soundtracks, Funk 45s and Japanese female soul records from the 70s.
Now Hot Peas and Butta. From the description on your website it has become like the house parties your parents used to throw, a feel good party. Describe how and why you started the Hot Peas and Butta parties.
Hot Peas & Butta is based off of nostalgia and during a time where black music was deep rooted in our community and our culture. A time where the music felt good in the soul and people would go to the discos or even basement parties to dance and sweat all night long. There were similar parties going on in Europe and a few in the states but none in Philly, which is a major black city. But our party had to be slightly different than others, we need to incorporate nostalgia some how to connect everything together. So in addition to playing Funk, Soul and Rare Groove 45s we would show VHS visuals on the projector. Everything from Kung Fu and Blaxploitation trailers, 70s cartoons and rare concert footage. The other thing that I wanted to do was make sure that the party could travel to other cities and countries so people could experience a “black experience”. So I gave Cash Money a call because I knew he previously did a similar party and he had a crazy funk 45 collection and we got things going. From there I reached out to a few other guys that I knew would fit perfectly like Supreme La Rock in Seattle, Kamui Sumida in Brooklyn, Scarce One in Germany and Marsellus Wallace in San Diego. And now we have resident DJs in each of those places plus Minneapolis and Japan.
Hot Peas & Butta is also an art, music & culture online magazine where we do reviews on much of the music coming out that fits our brand, interviews with artists, DJs and labels and the occasional grindhouse or exploitation film review.
Now the Hot Peas and Butta parties are international right? What other cities do you host these parties?
The scene here in the states changed so much musically and audience wise that it made us focus on other countries. So we do yearly tours in Germany and Japan with spot dates in Amsterdam, Switzerland, France and a few other countries. In the states we used to do monthly parties in Philly and New York with yearly spot dates in Pittsburgh, Minneapolis, San Diego, Los Angeles and Seattle but the focus for this year is to get back to really playing in America where this music was created.
What other DJ residencies do you currently have?
It’s hard for me to really hold local residencies at the moment because of travel schedules so I gave most of them up but I do a monthly in Philly at The Trestle Inn playing Funk & Soul 45s, a party at Sarah’s Place called Talk To The People where I play Jazz-Funk, Rare Groove and Classic Disco and in Amsterdam at a party called Night Shift playing House and dance classics.
Now I know that you produce as well since the late 1980's correct? Who do you produce with and how is that coming along now?
I got my first drum machines in the early 80s so I’ve was always been making beats but it wasn’t until 1987 when I first started messing with the Emu SP-12 that I considered myself doing production. I learned from DJ Groove who is an OG DJ from Philly that started in the late 70s. He was like the Bambaata of Philly who knew all of the breaks plus knew how to spin them. He was
the Fresh Prince’s first DJ (when he was known as Prince Will Rock) and they had a group called The Hypnotic 3. Groove was later signed with his partner Lord Supreme to Word Up Records (subsidiary label of Pop Art Records). In the early 90s I was producing for a Philly group called 2Kannon that we put out a 12” on that goes for a few bucks on eBay or Discogs. During that time Groove and I were producing for Bahamadia as well then in the early 2000’s we did something for MF Doom aka Viktor Vaughn on his Venomous Villain 2 album. We’ve got a slew of remixes that we did from that same early 2000’s time that never really panned out with Masta Ace, Cormega and OC. Maybe we’ll just press up some 12” in the future and just release all the material. Although I love producing it’s not as satisfying as it used to be for me. There was a time where any of those MCs would come to Philly to our radio show or our crib and drop verses, but the industry is too industry for me now and everyone and their mother makes beats so I’d rather DJ.
What upcoming projects are you working on?
We’re working on the upcoming Japan anniversary tour for early 2016 but I’ve also been focused on doing a gallery exhibition of some of my collection. I’m also releasing my next project via Record Breakin early this year. We also have something called The Hot Peas & Butta Artist Collective and we have 2 comic book series that’s available in comic shops, one is called Kodoja: Terror Mountain Showdown and the other is 3 Protectors.
Any advice for someone just starting out digging, DJ'ing or producing for that matter? What advice do you have for people who want to follow in your footsteps?
Yes, hone your skills! Don’t be in a rush to show the world that you can produce or DJ because everyone in the world can do those things. What separates you is actually being good at what you’re doing and especially having your own identity. There’s way too many people that are clones of clones of the original guys so you want to stand out from the already over saturated world.
Anything you want to add?
Yes the term dig deeper means more now than ever and there are a lot of records out there in the world with so much to be discovered. Dig for records that you have a connection to or enjoy listening to, not because someone else has it.
Any shout outs?
I want to thank first thank you for conducting this interview and congratulate you on the site. It’s great to have someone here in the states with a site that carries an amazing assortment of genres and rarities all fairly priced. Also thank you to everyone that has supported the Hot Peas & Butta brand, parties and product that we deliver. It’s because of you that we continue to push on!