The Club Beat with DJ Kenny K and DJ Mike Crosby
“My first club was Odell’s, and for the first year I worked there I didn’t get paid a dollar,” DJ Mike Crosby says. “You gotta pay your dues in this business.” And after two decades of spinning records in Baltimore, Crosby and his frequent partner DJ Kenny K have definitely paid their dues, both working parties and as perhaps the most consistently prolific mixtape DJs in the history of Baltimore club music, dropping dozens if not hundreds of mixes from the cassette era through the CD era.
And though most of the record stores where they once moved their product are long gone, and much of the action has moved online, Crosby says they still do good business with club music mixes at Dimensions in Music and other stores. “Kenny is real big in the streets with mix CDs—he does really well,” he says during an interview at a bar on Security Boulevard. “So there’s still an audience that wants those mix CDs. It’s not that they wanna go to the internet, they still wanna hear it mixed and scratched.”
Crosby’s current most high-profile gig is the mid-day mix on 92Q, but he was once drafted by Unruly Records, one of Baltimore’s reigning club labels, to compile official mix CDs from 1995 to 1998. “Shawn Caesar, he didn’t want his music on a club CD,” he says. “That’s how I got with Unruly. You had to go through them to make the club tapes. They wanted to reap some of the benefits. I would make the mix CDs, I got everything first. And I was able to build a relationship with your K.W. Griffs, your Boomans, your Jimmy Joneses, your Scottie B.’s, your Technics, your DJ Patricks, your Kenny B.’s, and the whole nine yards.”
This weekend Crosby will be joining Kenny K and another longtime friend, event promoter Robert Kelly, in celebrating their birthdays with the Aquarius and Pisces Birthday Bash at La Fontaine Bleu in Glen Burnie on Saturday, Feb. 19. “We’ve been doing it a few years, celebrating our birthdays together,” Kelly says. “I’m Aquarius, [Kenny]’s a Pisces, but somehow we figure out a way to make it work, and having our friends who are the same signs or whatever come out and celebrate with us too.”
While Baltimore club remains a calling card for both DJs, they probably won’t be playing the local dance flavor all night, as they might have in the past. “The older crowd don’t really wanna hear a lot of club. Neither do the younger crowd, really,” Kenny K says. “It’s changed a lot. Maybe a half hour at the most.”
Crosby recalls that during the early 1990s golden days of Odell’s, the ratio of club to rap was nearly the reverse of what it is now. “That’s the only club I know that didn’t close at 2 o’clock,” Crosby says. “They close at 2:15, 2:30. All you would play is club all night, and then at 2 o’clock, 15 minutes of hip-hop.”