The Club Beat With DJ Mic Marvelous
Production teams are rare in club music, much less equal partnerships, but DJ Mic Marvelous and DJ Twikks have been a tag team from the very beginning. “Me and him met up in high school,” Marvelous says in his living room in Waverly. “He was doin’ more club music, and I was doin’ more hip-hop and R&B. So we started doin’ parties together, where he would do half and I would do the other half. From there, man, it was just crazy; we just decided we would work together and get more parties—two of us—rather than goin’ against each other.”
Lately, though, Mic Marvelous, born Mike McLean, has been DJing parties in Baltimore on his own, while Twikks is exploring out-of-state career opportunities. “I’m just right now tryin’ to hold up the fort,” Marvelous says. “[Twikks] moved down to North Carolina. He had graduated from college, got his engineering degree, went down there for a job,” adding that Twikks won a DJ competition and a regular radio gig on WIKS in New Bern while down there. “Now I feel as though I have to hold my end of the bargain here and get my own show.”
And he’s already made some major steps toward reaching that goal, winning 92Q’s DJ contest at the Stone Soul Picnic back in August. That was the same competition that previously landed DJ Spontaneous a coveted spot on the station’s morning show, so Marvelous is hoping he’ll at least end up with a weekly shift with the station sometime soon. “Now I’m waitin’ for 92Q,” he says. “They didn’t really promise me, but they said ‘a potential spot’ on the radio.”
In the meantime, Marvelous has kept his dance card full spinning at parties and continues to collaborate with Twikks on new tracks via e-mail. And they jointly brand all their productions, regardless of whether it’s more one producer’s work or the other. “Twikks does mostly the beat, like you’ll hear the bass, the drums,” Marvelous says, while he comes up with many of the duo’s sampling ideas. “Usually, I send stuff down, even if he doesn’t touch it, he listens to it, ‘OK, that’s good, do this, do that to it,’ and I fix it.”
One of Marvelous’ most inspired sample choices, for the track “Let the Bodies Hit the Floor,” takes its titular chant from nü-metal band Drowning Pool’s 2001 hit “Bodies,” isolating the whispered lyric and giving it entirely new context and meaning. Marvelous first tried to keep the original’s loud, guitar-driven sections in the track, but “I tested it out in the club, and I got this crazy-ass look like, ‘What the hell is he playin’?’ So I changed it and stuck the Lil Jon [sample] in there, and they loved it. What I try to do is incorporate different sounds. I love that different type of feelin’. If they’re not used to it, get ‘em used to it.”
Mostly, though, Marvelous and Twikks have been standing out on other DJs’ mixes, most notably recent entries in K-Swift’s Jumpoff series, with bouncy, keyboard-driven tracks such as “Um Yeah” that hark back to a more playful era of Baltimore club than the its current, more aggressive sound.
After a stint as part of high-profile club producer Say Wut‘s company, Horsement Entertainment, Marvelous and Twikks are now back in charge of their own operation, although Marvelous says the decision was nothing personal. “All that was still good, and we’re still friends,” he says. “But I feel like I need to focus on me, because before I was with Horsemen Entertainment, I was out there hustlin’, hustlin’, hustlin’, gettin’ myself parties. But then when I got with them, I started to slack off a little bit more.”
One of Marvelous’ first big solo undertakings is Deja Vu, a double CD club mix released in July, featuring one disc of new material, and one disc of throwbacks from Baltimore club’s early days. “One reason why I made the Deja Vu CD is because some of the younger crowd does not even know about the older stuff,” he says. “They lookin’ at me like, ‘What is this?’ I’m like yo, these are the classics, this is what we were partyin’ down at ‘Dox with when we were younger, or down at Choices, and then you got the Tunnel, all of that, that’s where we used to really party.”
At 24, Mic Marvelous has been an established producer on the club scene for only the last couple years. But after a decade of DJing, his knowledge of the genre is deep, and he’s ready to pass on some of that experience to the high-school crowds he’s spinning for now.