“DJs are like X-Men,” Kevin Barnett explains
words by Kyle Cochrun, photos by Josh Land
When Barnett, a lifelong Akronite who mixes under the moniker B-Nyce, plays a party, he’s willing to throw down with funk, R&B, soul, disco, any decade’s pop hits and even modern-day trap anthems for the kiddos.
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For his latest event series, the Midnight Marauders Mid-Month Mixer held at BLU Jazz+ every third Friday of the month, the 44-year-old is bringing back the boom-boom-bap.
“When you come to one of my parties, you have to know what’s on the menu,” Barnett says.
The Mid-Month Mixer menu is classic hip-hop, from “Rappers Delight” to A Tribe Called Quest, with an added special bonus flavor every month. September’s bonus flavor was one-hit wonders from pop’s forgotten past. “‘Return of the Mack,’ Milli Vanilli, stuff like that,” Barnett says.
Barnett says growing up in a musical family led to his start as a DJ. His father loved the blues, his mother loved R&B and his older brother was a Prince fan. When Barnett was 6, his brother, then 19, purchased the biggest speaker system in the neighborhood. Naturally, their household became the party spot for all the nearby kids. Barnett attributes his interest in party-rocking to these early memories.
His love for hip-hop took root when he first heard Boogie Down Productions’ proto-gangster rap song “Criminal Minded” on the school bus as a child.
“I was like, what the hell?” Barnett says. KRS-One’s radical verses flipped his wig, and he was instantly hooked.
He began DJing at age 19 while enrolled at Kent State, and his first gig was a sorority fashion show party. This eventually led him to form his own DJing business, Mic Chek Entertainment. Over the years, Mic Chek has hosted events in Akron, Cleveland, Washington, D.C. and other cities.
Barnett views each of his parties as a refuge for serious music fans.
“DJs are like the X-Men,” he explains. “We’re like Professor X getting into Cerebro, trying to find people who otherwise wouldn’t ever come out ‘cause they don’t think other people get down with what they like to get down to.”
B-Nyce is a DJ of the people. This attitude is rooted in his desire to connect with people who love music, especially true-school hip-hop, as much as he does. His favorite hip-hop records include De La Soul’s 3 Feet High and Rising, Public Enemy’s It Takes A Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back and Nas’s Illmatic.
It’s a list of the genre’s classics that provides a blueprint for what party-goers can expect to hear at every Midnight Marauders Mid-Month Mixer, which takes its name from A Tribe Called Quest’s seminal 1993 LP.
You know the time. Bust out the Puma tracksuit and fedora and make it down to BLU Jazz+ on the third Friday of October. B-Nyce will get you stuck off the realness.
Join DJ B-Nyce every third Friday of the month at BLU Jazz+.
Kyle Cochrun is a writer from Akron, Ohio who is currently enrolled in the NEOMFA program for creative writing.