As Omaha’s Hip-Hop culture continues to develop, few people can lay claim to the level of influence and experience that DJ RIP (aka Mike Dunham) has donated to the cause. Known as “The Old Skool Specialist”, the Omaha native has been perfecting his craft since the early 1980’s. As the first Hip-Hop artist from the state of Nebraska to ever have a vinyl record pressed and released, RIP is familiar with Omaha’s Hip-Hop history.
“In the early 1980’s, there were many Hip-Hop shows and functions with various artists like Mario Scratch, Brian B, DJ Suicide, Star Steppers, and Harland Gunn. These guys were MC’s, DJ’s, Beatboxers and B-Boys who kept Hip-Hop flourishing throughout the 1980’s.” said RIP. “1987, there was a huge emcee battle called “The Battle of The Bands” that took place at the Civic Auditorium. There were over thirty different Rap/Hip-Hop crews that competed in that show. The number of participants shows that the Hip-Hop community in Omaha was definitely thriving at the time, but in 1988 when NWA came out, Gangsta Rap exploded. The Hip-Hop scene in Omaha was lost in the transition to Gangsta Rap and as a result, the Hip-Hop culture began suffering.”
Though local Hip-Hop had lost its original foundation, DJ RIP continued honing his skills on and off the mic as a DJ/Rapper/Producer for a group called The Young Rebels. It was with the Young Rebels that RIP experienced his first taste of success in the rap game.
“A friend of mine worked in the cafeteria at St. Joe’s hospital and this guy that also worked there claimed to be the brother of Raheem, a member of The Furious Five.” Said RIP. “The Furious Five are old school Hip-Hop legends, so we gave him a demo but didn’t take the situation very seriously. About a week later, my phone rang and it was Raheem calling from NY. He liked our demo, so he asked us to move to NY where he could help us get a deal and help him produce an album he was working on. We packed our bags and moved to NY shortly after that.”
While in New York, not only was DJ RIP introduced some of the most notable names in the Hip-Hop industry (such as Gang Starr, The Shockley brothers of Public Enemy, Big Daddy Kane’s DJ Mister C, and GrandMaster Flash), but living in the birthplace of Hip-Hop also helped to strengthen his connection with the art form. “Living in NY I got see what Hip-Hop is really all about.” Said RIP. “Not just the music, but the lifestyle and the culture that comes along with the music. You live Hip-Hop; it’s not just about the way you dress.”
After spending time in Ney York, RIP moved back to Omaha and spun at local nightclubs The Parthenon, Cleopatra’s, Planet Soull, and Grooves. He also deejayed concert events such as Digital Underground, Run DMC, Ice T, Ice Cube, and Sir Mix-A-Lot. As a true student of Hip-Hop, RIP is as well rounded as the records he cuts up. DJ Rip, along with Houston Alexander (Scribble Crew, Alliance All Star B-Boys), promoted and organized FreshFest 1999 and 2001. RIP also deejayed at both shows as they proved to be Omaha’s most successful Hip-Hop events in the last decade. RIP also works with Mr. Wiggles (Wild Style, Beat Street, RockSteady Crew) on his personal website and with his
continuing study and knowledge of Hip-Hop. As a co-owner (Along with DJ Bizzy B) of “The Hook” magazine, the only Hip-Hop magazine ever published out of Nebraska, RIP also works for Omaha radio station Channel 97.7 in sales and promotion. During the week he sits in with DJ Bizzy B during the “Five o’clock Freak Show”, a drivetime Hip-Hop show that lasts from 5-6 PM daily.
“Bizzy and I have a lot of goals as far where we want to see the Hip-Hop culture develop in Omaha and around the Midwest.” Said RIP. “It’s important that everyone comes out and supports Hip-Hop when there’s a concert or a Hip-Hop event in town. If there’s a solid turn out, it almost guarantees future events.”
One event on the horizon is the “Knights of The Turntables Tour”, brought to Omaha by Dragonfly Productions. As the acting manager of the production company, DJ RIP says the tour aims to bring the biggest names in Hip-Hop to the Midwest, and more specifically, Nebraska.
“This is something that we’d like to do on a month to month basis after March 9th. If enough people come out and support these shows, it shouldn’t be a problem.” On March 9th Kid Capri and special guests Camp Lo will kick off the “Knights of the Turntables Tour” at the Mac Dome, located on 140th and Old L street. For ticket info, check out DJ RIP’s website at www.DJRIP.Net, DJ Bizzy B’s website at www.DJBizzyB.com, or listen to Channel 97.7.
“Hip Hop is the voice of the youth.” Concluded RIP. “If you know where you’ve been, then you know where you’re going. I know where I’ve been and I know where I’m taking Hip Hop; To the top.