The knock on the door came late; too late for most folks. But DJ Heron was working in a recording studio, where work often doesn't start till the witching hour. And the cat doing the knocking said he was a friend of a friend who'd been working in the studio earlier that night, and that he was supposed to meet him. Was the friend still there? He asked Heron. No? Did anybody know where he'd gone?
Heron couldn't really see the would-be visitor's face, but his story sounded legit. So he unbolted the door -- and knew it was a mistake the moment he did it. At once the knocker had a gun to Heron's face and an accomplice by his side. Quickly, the two ushered the DJ back into the studio where they tied him up, wrapped a gag around his mouth, and left him to listen as they proceeded to clean out his entire studio.
Every machine, every microphone, every wire was carried out and loaded on to a waiting truck. Most devastatingly, though, the robbers stole Heron's hard drives, which were loaded with untold beats and rhymes. Beats and rhymes he could never get back.
Making matters worse, a few months later Sony Discos called Heron and said they were interested in an artist he was producing named Don V.A. At any other time this would be fantastic news. But all of Don V.A.'s tracks were on those stolen hard drives. And Heron had no clue how he'd recreate what got Sony interested in the first place.
But no gun-toting scumbags would stop Heron from doing what he does. And within weeks, and with a little help from some real friends, he'd not only recreated Don V.A.'s custom mix of salsa and hip-hop, he made it even better. And when Don V.A.'s song "De Lao A Lao" dropped that summer, they both had a regional hit on their hands.
The quick comeback is just indicative of what makes Heron one of Miami's most resolute DJs. Simply surviving such an ordeal would be enough for most folks; thriving in spite of it makes Heron one headstrong head-spinner. The Lima-born, Brooklyn-raised Heron gets his name from the ghetto pronunciation of heroin. And it's his mission to ensure that his music becomes equally addictive.
Heron's first turn toward the tables came when he carried his cousin's vinyl-filled milk crates and watched while he spun some of Brooklyn's biggest block parties. His first local came at the old Cameo, long before it was crobar, when a collective of hip-hop heavies put on a night called Club 1. Along the way there were highlights like opening for Black Sheep and Leaders of the New School at the Institute, and doing likewise for Redman at Salvation. These days Heron's such a respected member of the scene he's become the house DJ for events thrown by 305hiphop.com.
Still, the spin's only some of what drives Heron to go above and beyond. He also hustles beats and twiddles the nobs for a plethora of both name rappers -- Special Ed, for one -- and up-and-comers like Destiny and Melodic. And though he hasn't yet had a hand in the career of Termanology, for whom he opens at PS14 this Friday, there's a high likelihood that the two will make a lasting connection. Even if they don't, by the time you rid your head of beats by everybody from Biz Markie to Drake and Saukrates, you won't care who else is connecting with whom, just so long as DJ Heron keeps connecting to you.
DJ Heron's All-Time Top Five:
1. "Nobody Beats the Biz," Biz Markie
2. "The Choice is Yours," Blacksheep
3. "So What You're Sayin,'" EPMD
4. "Girl I'll House You," Jungle Brothers
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
To listen to more mixes, visit DJ Heron's MySpace at myspace.com/99centbeatz
DJ Heron. With Termanology. Friday, September 11. PS14, 28 NE 14th St., Miami. Doors open at 10 p.m., admission is $10. Ages 21+ with ID. 305-358-3600; ps14.com