The location could be anywhere in Chicago after dark. It’s a hot sweaty mess of a dance floor, and DJ
Zebo is on the decks. Peering at the crowd from behind his thick-rimmed specs, head nodding like a
metronome; his sound is one of confidence and controlled frenzy, as highlighted in Newcity Magazine,
where he was honored in their annual Music 45 issue—alongside the likes of Kanye West, Andrew Bird
and Smashing Pumpkins—as one of the top 45 musical artists in Chicago. This was just after being listed
in URB Magazine’s “Next 100” issue.
“…Zebo packs a cut-up crateful of styles, from hip-hop and B-more to French, Electro, Disco and even
a nasty snippet of a techno track or throwback freestyle gem. While this maximal approach might be
increasingly common among DJs who cater to the ADD-riddled mash-up club casualties, Zebo stays head
and shoulders above the rest for knowing that just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. Skills can be
honed, but taste can’t be taught…”
Zebo’s journey from music lover to selector started like many others before him, growing up in a rural
shadow of the big city, finding inspiration in the rave scene of the late 90s. “The whole idea of using vinyl
as a medium for such a ‘tech’ style event was crazy for me. Although house and jungle dominated his early
turntable diet, Zebo is a polygamous lover of music, and he hustled to find any opportunity to play, be it
raves, loft parties, weddings, corporate parties, in-store events and fashion shows. He is also an instructor
at Columbia College teaching both a Club Dj part 1 class as well as an advanced part 2.
It is this genuine love of music paired with incredible deck acumen that propels DJ Zebo beyond the
reach of all the other DJs trying to out-reference, out-cred and out-mix each other, their varied selections
resembling 10 pounds of shit in a 5 pound laptop. Zebo’s not simply wearing his musical heart on his
sleeve—as the WAV file tattooed on his ever-moving forearm might seem to indicate—but actually
spinning dance floor gold with both his technical abilities and intuition in reading the crowd, a modern day
Yet for all his vaunted versatility, no matter what direction his sets head, Zebo’s initial love of jungle seems
to subconsciously permeate his music at peak hour, with bombastic basslines rolling on and on underneath
familiar hooks and clever samples. Pitched-up, pitched-down, scratched-up and around, Zebo’s a populist
at heart, finding the redeeming values in both subterranean cool and overt pop—it’s a delicate tightrope to
walk, but this DJ has the balance to pull it off.
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