In the midst of the many wedding jockeys, karaoke kings and bedroom DJs, finding a honest-to-god turntablist in Myrtle Beach is nearly as rare as coming upon of a crate of hard-to-find wax at your local record store.
However, New Jersey native Dondi Riley, 41, is living proof that the art of hip-hop DJing is not dead in this area.
Better known to fans as DJ SKERGE1, Riley has been spinning records for nearly 20 years, the past 10 spent right here on the beach. During his time here, he’s held down stages at the House of Blues, performed at nearly every club up and down the Grand Strand and worked the airwaves as part of the KISS 98.5 staff with fellow DJ Billy Bloc O and others.
All the while SKERGE1 has continued to grow as a student of hip-hop, helping break records while staying true to his roots as a grafitti artist, B-Boy and supporter of the hip-hop culture — a cuture which he admits has, at times, been lacking locally.
Having recently emerged from a hiatus of more than a year, SKERGE1 was back on the scene last Friday helping hold down DJ QP’s Hip Hop Live Free Pour Edition at the Island Bar & Grill Surfside. ListenUp had a chance to catch up with “the legendary” DJ ... here’s what he had to say:
Myrtle Beach Music: DJ Skerge1 holds down the turntables at Island Bar & Grill Friday.
So, what are you doing these days musically?
I feel that I’m still one of the premier DJs round here right now. Basically I break records.
How did you get in a position to be able to be someone who breaks records like that?
Well, I been DJ’ing since 1983. I started off on college radio in 1984 after Teddy Ted and Special K.
I’m and original DJ and I been spinning wax for 17 years. I still have an arsenal of records, something like 600,000 records. You name it, I got it.
I’m also with the CORE DJs, which is something that’s universal. The founder is a cat named Tony Neal, along with — rest in peace — Jam Master Jay. Jay’s wife and Tony Neal put together a coalition of DJs not just in this country but across the planet.
I’m one of the members of that and I been doing it since day one. Big shout outs to DJ Dynamite, Billy Blocko, B-Lord and all the S.C. cats.
The Core DJs is a universal group that’s all about breaking records and just connecting thoughts with other brothas because there’s a lot of stuff that’s not being played. That corporate enemy in the radio world, we gonna shut that down.
It’s all about good music...if you wack, you wack, if you garbage, you garbage, but if you fresh, you fresh and that’s the history of the game.
What motivates you to keep doing what you’re doing?
I just love hip-hop. I’m a student of hip-hop and a child of hip-hop. I’m an 80’s baby from the Reagan Era and I’ve seen where all this came from.
I used to break dance with Crazy Legs. I’m one of the founding members of the Boom Skwad/Artifact/Pack the Pistol Posse.
How long have you been holding it down in Myrtle Beach?
I’ve been at the beach 10 years man. This whole time I just been tryna break records and really let Myrtle Beach know what hip-hop is all about.
I’m still a graffiti artist and I still write graf 24/7 with LTD crew, Boom Skwad, NRG and all that.
And how have you dealt with the fact that there really isn’t as strong a culture for all the elements of hip-hop here as there would be where you come from?
It can be frustrating at times. But when I deal with brothers liek QP and Shamroc and all these cats out here that are doing they thing, they let me know that my art is not dead and that there’s a reason to still stay focused with it.
You know what I mean, I’ma never stop DJing, graffin’, all that. I just did a piece out in Cali like two months ago. I mean, I ain’t gonna let the location be known but I just hit a couple spots right here on the beach too man.
I’m just tryna let folks know that Skerge1, LTD crew, Boom Skwad, we still here.
So where can people find you or where have you been DJing lately?
Myrtle Beach Music: SKERGE1 working the booth in his radio days.
I still DJ everywhere. If you haven’t seen me at a show it’s just because, honestly, I got kinda disgusted with the game for awhile.
I would say myself, DJ Billy Blocko, along with the sister Mizz Keke that was in the building tonight are still representing. I used to work with these folks at 98.5, but I walked away from it because I was just disgusted with the way the music scene was heading for awhile.
But, on the humble, I’m just tryna get back on it and I’m still graffin’, I’m still a B-Boy at heart and still breakdance up in Wilmington sometimes. DJ-wise, you can catch me with QP-N-Shamroc, you can find me at the Boathouse, you can catch me at the House of Blues.
I’m still the ONLY and official House of Blues DJ in Myrtle Beach. Don’t get that twisted.
You got any projects coming up or anything you’re working on now that you want people to know about?
Well, I’m just coin’ off hiatus like I said — I’ve been off it for a year and a half — but I’m working on a Mixtape with the world-famous DJ Dynamite and Short Fuse Entertainment. We working on a CD right now called “The Best of Both Worlds” you know and the grind is still shinin’.
And what sort of local talent can we expect to see on that?
Absolutely, we got a lot of local talent we’re working with. South Crack artists everywhere. I got my man Flames, L.I.D. Boys, got my man BDG from Pawleys Island, a cat named Young Buck — only 13 years old, but the kid is a monster — and that’s a little sneak peak.
But really I’m just workin’ with the whole Myrtle Beach area, Georgetown area and putting in my work to love and support all my artists out here doing they thing.
There’s a lot of things jumpin’ off. The whole situation really. Everything is beautiful and I’m just glad to be back at, you know. I’m lovin’ what I’m seeing out here right now.