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The Club Beat with DJ Excel

February 18, 2008

“It’s funny that I’m not in Baltimore right now,” DJ Excel says over the phone from his current Denton, Md., home across the Chesapeake Bay. His label, Bmore Original, is just now picking up steam. At 32, he has spent the last couple years slowly getting back into the Baltimore club and hip-hop scene he grew up in, after taking a lengthy break to focus on fatherhood and a different career path in the mortgage business.

“Most people don’t know that I’m a single father, and my daughter comes first,” Excel says. “And that’s actually why I left the scene, to take care of her, because it’s just me and her.”

“Bmore Original was an idea that I had with a buddy of mine John who passed away,” DJ Excel explains. “He and I had a rap group back in the day, and we came up with the concept and never did anything with it. And when I came back out, two or three years ago, I decided to go ahead and use that name and bring it back out.”

Since then, Bmore Original has helped lead the charge of Baltimore club mp3 stores, using digital distribution to reach the local genre’s rapidly growing international fanbase. So far, the label’s releases are download-only, including DJ Excel’s own new club music album, The Friday Nite Bounce. But with help from local hip-hop label Street Legal, Excel is prepping Bmore Original’s first vinyl releases to drop in March, including a few 12-inch singles from Friday Nite Bounce.

New Baltimore club is only a small part of DJ Excel’s recent ventures, however. He’s still producing hip-hop, including several tracks on Minlus McCracken’s recent Rock And A Hardplace and E Major’s upcoming Majority Rules, as well as club-tinged tracks featuring Bossman and Mullyman. And Bmore Original’s roster now includes the Michigan rap group the Lyricists and Baltimore hip-hop institution Sonny Brown, for whom Excel organized a recent benefit concert. The label’s site also streams Bmore Original Radio, which regularly features guest artists and hosts, and on, the web site that hosts personalized social networks, Excel created My-Club-Space for Baltimore club fans, DJs, and producers to network through.

With all this activity, Excel says, the Bmore Original site is getting attention practically everywhere but home. “Right now we’re getting a lot of hits from France,” he says. “We get hits from Australia. I think the least number of hits we get are in Baltimore, but we get love from all around.”

Although his first love was hip-hop, DJ Excel’s long history in club stretches back over a decade when he bought stacks of vinyl at Inner City Records, and released his own club single on Unruly Records in 1995. And even on Friday Nite Bounce, Excel’s tracks reflect club music’s early roots in breakbeat house more than any current permutation of the genre, which he says comes from his own nostalgia for that era.

“The Baltimore that I know is dead to me, because my Baltimore is DJ Danny Class on the radio, my Baltimore is DJ Boobie and Scottie B. on V103, and Frank Ski, that kinda stuff, DJ Big Red and Koolbreez on Thursdays playing hip-hop,” DJ Excel says of the days before 92Q homogenized and dominated the local airwaves. “That’s why I did Bmore Original Radio, because to me, I’m creating that world a little bit again.”