Old School Rewind Extra – 9/29/19

From Wikipedia, Andre Manuel, better known by his stage name The Unknown DJ, is a disc jockey and producer of hip hop and electro music who is considered to be an early West Coast hip hop-electro pioneer and legend.  Manuel got his start in the music industry through Alonzo Williams, a Los Angeles-based disc jockey and party promoter.  Williams mentored Manuel, teaching him how to DJ and eventually the two began working together. Williams added Andre Manuel to his newly-formed Disco Construction and Wreckin’ Cru, a collective of disc jockeys that would DJ around the Los Angeles area.  Manuel began using the stage name DJ Unknown with the Cru. The Wreckin’ Cru would grow to also include DJ Yella, Dr. Dre and branch out into recording music as well.

After spending some time building on his DJ skills with the Cru, Unknown founded his own independent record label called Techno Hop Records.  He started to produce and release records on his new label beginning in 1984 that fused electro-funk with hip-hop, a genre of music which he described as “techno hop”.  Some notable records he released include “Basstronic”, “808 Beats” and “Let’s Jam”. He also produced several tracks for Ice-T on his label, including his first gangsta rap recording, “6 in the Mornin'” (1986). The Unknown DJ continued as a producer for MC Eiht’s crew Compton’s Most Wanted. He also produced music for artists such as A.L.T., Brownside, N.W.A, Bobby Jimmy, and King Tee.

The Unknown DJ has also been credited in playing a minor role during the formation of the legendary Death Row Records. Dr. Dre, a former associate and also alumni of the Wreckin’ Cru, began the process of starting a record label and music partnership in anticipation of his departure from Ruthless Records. The D.O.C., one of Dre’s new music venture partners, claimed to have suggested using the name “Def Row” for the new label  (a play on the hip-hop label Def Jam),  but rights to the name were already owned by The Unknown DJ. Unknown stated in an interview that he created the name “Def Row” for a potential deal to start another record label under Morgan Creek Entertainment Group. However he later sold the naming rights to Dr. Dre and his partners in July 1991 and by 1992 the name changed to its eventual title of Death Row Records