Passion of the Crates | Pittsburgh City Paper

Passion of the Crates

For Crate's Sake



His answer comes swift and puncturing, like the sound of a scratch.




No, DJ Bonics doesn't care that society has more love for those with that University of Yeah, Yeah, Yeah-sealed paper, even though he makes it a point as to why he's back in college. Posted down on a table in front of the William Pitt Union -- the vestibule to student-body life at the University of Pittsburgh -- along with Paul "Madbuddah" Dang, Pete "Nice Rec" Mudge and Dan "Dabber" Snyder, Bonics is confering with his "Passion of the Crates" crew over the philosophical question of What good is school again?  


Brandon "Bonics" Glova and Dabber are former college dropouts turned late registrants. They began at Pitt in the late '90s only to detour around higher ed when they began earning more credits spinning at parties and radio stations. Madbuddah -- the "grandfather" of the crew -- graduated from Pitt in '98, while grand son Nice Rec just started in '01.


Getting his degree matters, Bonics says, to "someone else who might hold the key to where I wanna go, like, a job."


But Bonics already has a job. He spins for a station run by Big Deal Radio Corporation Channel. So, then, it matters to his mom also: "She put a lot of money into it, so I might as well finish."


For Dabber it's simpler: "I can't eat off this alone, off of deejaying."


Nor do he or any of his Crates-men want to eat off it. Records tend to be dirty. And once one goes from being a deejay-of-the-people to a career deejay, that tends to get dirty too.


So these deejays each have a dj -- a day job -- to support what they do outta love. Hence, passion. When Dabber isn't in school, he's bartending at the Carnegie Museum for catered events, which isn't so bad except he has to wear a tuxedo.


"That day job is such a horrible thing that it reminds me that I need to be in school getting a degree so that my future day job doesn't suck so bad," says Dabber.


 Pitt's not such a bad place to be stuck, though, if you are a deejay. Plenty of parties, plenty of asses. Bonics and Dabber began their official musical excursion as a band out of Pitt called the Mindboxing Alliance, which was either the first hip-hop act or the first act, period, to play the Hard Rock Café in Station Square -- depending on which of these two you ask.


When they got to Pitt, Madbuddah had already established himself working with other spinnas out of Pitt, such as Black Steel, Charles Duncan, O-Ab and Selecta. Back then, Forbes Avenue in Oakland was a cratedigger's playground, with record stores including Collector's 12 Inch, Dave's, Jerry's before it moved to bigger amusement in Squirrel Hill, and 720 before its current residency in East Liberty.


Mining through these vinyl caves is how the deejay comes into form, says Madbuddah, searching for one record, in one genre, while stumbling upon other records and piquing curiosity in other genres -- an art that's become endangered by downloading, iPodding and other online ventures that take the search out of the search.


This musical connoisseur-age is what led Dabber to become a reggae expert, Bonics a breakbeat and classic hip-hop floorjammer, Nice Rec a funk and soul aficionado and Madbuddah a house-music homewrecker. Five out of six of those musical classifications ain't what's necessarily moving the average Viacom-programmed Pitt teen, though -- a fact not lost upon these four wax disciples. It's the cross they bear.


"I don't think a lot of us know where we're gonna be in, like, a year or two," says Madbuddah, "But what I've always hoped was that someone would be able to continue what we did."


Which is what?


Bonic's answer is again, swift.