Sound Check: DJ EFN’s Crazy Hood Productions 30th Anniversary
Miami looked at hip-hop like this New York invasion. All the mixtape DJs were coming out of New York back then, and they’re like, ‘shout out Brooklyn, shout out Queens,’ and it was kind of weird when you’re driving out in Miami and the DJ is shouting about New York. – DJ EFN
In the early 90s, the Miami music scene was suffering an identity crisis. The growing commercialization of hip-hop music turned the once-regional genre of music into a national commodity, blurring the lines between the cities of origin in hopes of radio playability. The city that once found an identity in its rowdy club anthems had been invaded by the boom-bap drum breaks of New York and the spacey synths of California.
Before then, the lively and often raunchy lyrics of bass music echoed through every house party and street corner of Miami. The thumping 808s of 2 Live Crew’s debut album Nasty as They Wanna Be, became the pulse of the city, as it reverberated from every boombox and car subwoofer in town. Come hip-hop’s golden age, New York and L.A. mixtapes started to travel across state lines, ushering in a new era of rap music. The same streets that were once filled with music that represented the vibrant spirit of South Florida were replaced with jazzy drum samples and G-funk synth chords.
By 1993, a young hip-hop head from Miami-Dade County looked to resurrect Miami’s music scene from a regional subgenre to a global phenomenon, replacing the New York-centric mixtapes with fresh new talent from all over the East Coast. That kid was DJ EFN.
“Miami looked at hip-hop like this New York invasion,” DJ EFN said. “All the mixtape DJs were coming out of New York back then, and they’re like, ‘shout out Brooklyn, shout out Queens,’ and it was kind of weird when you’re driving out in Miami and the DJ is shouting about New York.”
EFN recognized an opportunity to set Miami apart as its own hub for hip-hop music. He would create exclusive mixtapes featuring hot emerging talent, developing a soundscape that radiates the energy of Miami’s hip-hop scene—in comes Crazy Hood Productions. “I saw a lane for myself where I could sprinkle in that Miami flavor and really build an identity for ourselves and have something the locals could be proud of.”
For DJ EFN, hustle always came first. The young disc jockey would go crate digging in every record store from South Beach to Harlem in search of exclusive records and underground artists to premier on his volumes of Crazy Hood Mixtapes. “I was like 18, 19, and me and my boys would put enough gas in the whip to drive all up the East Coast to look for records,” EFN said.
It wasn’t long before he would become recognized as a local tastemaker for his sixth sense of music curation. As the Crazy Hood series grew in popularity, Miami emcees would begin to approach him, searching for that most-wanted spot on the hottest mixtape in the city. These exclusive premiers would play a role in jumpstarting the early careers of future Miami mainstays by the early 2000s.
Thirty years and 42 mixtapes later, DJ EFN is recognized as a Miami, Florida legend and a pioneer of hip-hop’s mixtape era. In celebration of this career milestone, Crazy Hood Productions teamed up with Monster Energy to throw a community block party similar to the ones he threw in the early years of CHP.
“It all culminated into a perfect event. We’re celebrating hip-hop’s 50th anniversary. We’re celebrating 30 years of Crazy Hood Productions,” DJ EFN said.
DJ EFN’s years of dedication to preserving arts, music, and culture in his hometown earned him the respect of Miami-Dade natives. During the CHP 30 event, city commissioners finally honored EFN and the Crazy Hood crew with an official day commemorating their contributions to the culture and keys to the cities of Kendall West and Miami-Dade County.