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Miami’s Mixtape King, Drink Champs Host DJ EFN Stops by The Davy V. Blog

Discussion in 'Davy Vara' started by DavyV., Apr 10, 2018.

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    DJ EFN




    By Davy V.


    One of the best things about having a platform like The Davy V. Blog, is to be able to interview interesting and talented folks who have made tremendous contributions to television, film, sports, and music.

    Although for years my passion has been writing about and speaking out on police accountability issues, as well as advocating for the First Amendment protected right to record, I actually got my start in television and video production in 1995, when I traveled to East Orange, New Jersey and had the opportunity to interview one of my all time favorite hip hop groups, the legendary Naughty by Nature, for my cable access television show, KEEP IT ON THE REEL.

    And almost 25 years later, my love for REAL Hip Hop hasn’t changed.

    Recently I reached out to Miami, Florida’s DJ EFN, and asked him if I could interview him.

    I was both humbled and excited when he hit me back and said let’s do it!

    I’ve been a fan of DJ EFN since his mixtape days.

    But DJ EFN, (Eric F. Narciandi) known as Miami’s Mixtape King, is much more than just a mixtape DJ.

    DJ EFN is a music producer, artist manager, A&R consultant, music promoter and marketer, filmmaker,, entrepreneur, CEO and founder of Crazy Hood Oriductions, and co-host of the Drink Champs podcast.

    My favorite DJ EFN work however, is his film, Coming Home: Cuba.

    In the film, DJ EFN, a Cuban-American like myself, travels to Cuba for the first time, and takes in Cuba’s Hip Hop scene.

    For me personally, having never visited my parents’ homeland, DJ EFN’s film Coming Home: Cuba, gave me the opportunity to see Cuba in a way no other film or television program has shown it before.

    Especially with the way EFN gave a platform to Cuban Hip Hop artists.

    So, sit back, and enjoy the interview.

    I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed interviewing DJ EFN!



    DAVY V.:

    Who is DJ EFN?


    DJ EFN:

    DJ EFN is an only child who was born in Los Angeles, to Cuban born parents, and moved to Miami, Florida at a young age and made his chops in Miami!




    DAVY V.:

    When did you first get into music?


    DJ EFN:

    As far as I can remember I loved music but it was mostly the music I heard in movies that really moved me. The soundtrack to 1980’s movies like The Goonies, Beverly Hills Cop, Ferris Buehler’s Day Off, Nerds, etc. If you think about it, movies are like mixtapes because they put all kinds of genres and styles to fit the scenes in the movie, so you get exposed to different types of music that way. Also, my older cousins were always playing disco and pop music around me. When I grew into my own I started getting into rock, metal, punk, and then hip hop came along!



    DAVY V. :

    I grew up listening to real Hip Hop. Back when groups like Public Enemy were such a powerful force for social change, with songs like Fight The Power. Back when legendary lyricists like Rakim didn’t need to drop one cuss word, or a misogynistic reference in a song, just to sell albums.

    With that said, at a time where artists like 6ix9ine are going back and forth on social media with veteran west coast artists like The Game, fueling another east coast/west coast beef, not to mention a time where all to often originality has been thrown out the window, with many artists sounding the same, where do you see the state of Hip Hop today?



    DJ EFN:

    It’s tough to answer that because I’m not sure we can easily assess the state of Hip Hop with things like you mentioned. I almost feel that it’s better to apply those things to the state of media in general. Just look at how our politics are right now. Hip Hop is actually pretty healthy outside of the viral stuff going on.

    There’s probably more opportunity for creative, lyrical, and culturally conscious artists to thrive due to the breakdown of the traditional label and media gatekeepers.

    Now that doesn’t mean that those gatekeepers from the past haven’t started to adapt and gain back their grip, but more than ever I see a lot of dope artists creating their own lanes, as well as all the elements of the culture flourishing because of being able to connect to the masses with social media and the internet.

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    Coming Home Cuba: Winner 2013 People’s Film Award


    DAVY V.:

    As a Cuban-American, I loved your 2012 film Coming Home: Cuba which won the 2013 People’s Film Award. You traveled to Cuba for the first time to get in touch with your roots, and also showcased Cuba’s Hip Hop community.

    As someone who has never visited Cuba, and who was transplanted at a very young age from Miami’s Cuban community and culture, to Upstate New York, your film really spoke to me. It’s not often that fans get the opportunity to thank an artist, or someone who inspires them.

    Thank you.

    When did you decide that you were going to go to Cuba and not only connect with your roots, but also give a platform to Cuba’s talented Hip Hop artists?




    DJ EFN:


    Thanks!

    Growing up in a typical Cuban exile household, I was instilled with the politics and ideas of my parents and grandparents. Those ideas were that I would never, and could never visit the island unless Castro or his regime were no longer there. Plus, we grew up in an era where radical Cubans in the exile community would be outraged and act out towards anyone looking towards Cuba. So it wasn’t until I got older that I started to realize that Cuba may not change anytime soon, and if it did, there could be the chance that overnight there would be a Taco Bell and McDonald’s on every corner of Old Havana. So I decided I wanted to see the island in the capsule it was in. See it in somewhat the form my family may have seen it when they left. It was important for me to see it in its raw state and see things for myself. So the trip started to become a reality when I met someone who had traveled a couple of times to the island, and he was in contact with some of the Hip Hop artists.

    Not only did he convince me of doing the trip, but it was his connection to the artists that made me want to film the trip and talk to these artists. Due to what I mentioned in regards to the outrage within the community, I kept the trip a secret from most of my family. Til this day my grandma is still upset I went and wants to know nothing about the trip nor has she seen the film. And I have to respect her for that.



    DAVY V.:

    Without giving too much away, to those who haven’t watched your film, Coming Home: Cuba, tell them a little more.



    DJ EFN:


    Coming Home Cuba is a film about myself and some of my crew going to Cuba for the first time. Myself and Garcia who is my artist, and co-producer on the film, go as first time Cuban-Americans visiting our parents’ homelands. On that journey of searching for our roots we also want to meet our Hip Hop counterparts on the island and learn about their Hip
    Hop scene.

    By doing that we use the common culture of Hip Hop to bridge the gap between us and hopefully the audience that watches it. We also show how art transcends all, and specifically, Hip Hop culture.



    DAVY V.

    How was it making Coming Home: Cuba?



    DJ EFN:

    It was tough as a first time filmmaker. It was a total passion project that originally was intended just to be something we showed close friends and family, but ended up being something way bigger than we thought it would be. It inspired the ‘Coming Home’ series where we are about to release our fifth film.

    We have done films about Peru, Haiti, Vietnam, and now about to release Coming Home: Colombia. The previous four have all been aired on Revolt TV and have found a nice cult following which includes the likes of Busta Rhymes, and other well respected artists that have voiced their appreciation for what we are doing with the film series.



    DAVY V.:

    In 1995 I interviewed Treach from Naughty by Nature, on 18th Street in East Orange, New Jersey.
    I asked Treach to talk about the “finished product”, in other words, whether it’s a hit song, a platinum album, or a film, people see the finished product, often either overlooking or just not realizing the sacrifices artists make and the passion and hard work that goes into their works of art.

    For people used to only seeing the finished product, can you tell my readers about what it was like flying to another country, not only a communist dictatorship, but a country that you had never been to, and making a film like Coming Home: Cuba? What was that like? What were the challenges?



    DJ EFN:


    Each country and film has different challenges. As an indie filmmaker there’s a laundry list of challenges like financial, logistic, legal, etc. But the way we do the films is very guerilla style and we do put ourselves at risk so that we can capture something organic and raw.



    DAVY V.:

    As a filmmaker and music producer, what did you take from your visit to Cuba and from meeting all the talented Hip Hop artists?



    DJ EFN:


    That all you need is passion and creativity. Often we make excuses like needing certain equipment, or studio, or producer or whatever. But these artists are creating amazing stuff with damn near nothing. So I came back grateful for what I have and more eager to do more with less.



    DAVY V.:

    Since you went to Cuba, President Obama took an important step towards bettering relations with Cuba. Now, with Trump in office, there’s no telling what will happen. What do you think lies ahead when it comes to U.S./Cuba relations?



    DJ EFN:

    Since then I was able to convince my mom to return and I took her back in 2015 as a birthday gift to her. Then Obama visited the island a month or two after that. Personally I was optimistic about the change in approach to the island but there’s so much to get into when discussing that, it’s just too much to get into now, plus Trump seems to be reversing most of those changes.



    DAVY V.:

    Where can readers see the films?



    DJ EFN:

    They can see them on Diddy’s Revolt TV, the same network we have Drink Champs on. Also when we release a new film we do screenings around the country in selected cities, so people can look out for those.

    Also, they can stream the films at the linkbelow

    http://www.crazyhood.com/watch-coming-home-cuba-peru-haiti-full-movie/


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    Hip Hop Legend N.O.R.E. and DJ EFN


    DAVY V.:

    Speaking of Drink Champs, how did the idea come together for one of the most popular podcasts?


    DJ EFN:

    Just being drunks in the studio and finding a way to make it into a thing!



    DAVY V.:

    How did the collabo with Queens, NY Hip Hop Legend N.O.R.E., Drink Champs co-host happen?




    DJ EFN:


    Me and N.O.R.E. have been friends since 1998 and he eventually moved to Miami and moved into my area. He worked out of my studio and we started doing a Sirius-XM show from there. Long story short, that’s what eventually turned into Drink Champs.



    DAVY V.:

    Is Drink Champs recorded and filmed in Miami?



    DJ EFN:

    Sometimes we travel but it is based and filmed mainly
    in Miami.



    DAVY V.:

    With the success of Drink Champs what can fans expect in the near future?




    DJ EFN:


    More drunken antics from their favorite drunken uncles!



    DAVY V.:

    With Miami bring my adopted hometown, I can’t Interview Miami’s Mixtape King without asking you about Miami’s Hip Hop scene. One of my all time favorite rap groups is the 2 Live Crew. R.I.P. to Fresh Kid Ice. Still to this day when people think Miami, they think the legendary 2 Live Crew and Miami Bass. Obviously Miami has nurtured other artists such as Trick Daddy, Trina, and Pitbull. As a producer and a Miami native, where does Miami’s Hip Hop scene stand today, and where do you see it going?



    DJ EFN:


    I am always going to be biased when it comes to my city so in saying that I think our scene is doing well and has a lot to offer. We have a lot of new upcoming young talent as well as veterans still doing a lot, like myself and my crew. We are a well rounded city when it comes to Hip Hop culture.

    We have world renowned DJ’s like DJ Craze, mega celebrities like Pitbull, Khaled, and street respected artists like Trick and Ross. We also have world respected graffiti artists, B-Boys and B-Girls, and the younger generation in all those departments are following in those same footsteps. We have artists like Denzel Curry. Pouya, and Prez P. to name a few.



    DAVY V.:

    Speaking of Miami, let’s do a few “Hottest Spots in The 305” questions.


    Best Cuban sandwich in Miami?



    DJ EFN:


    I haven’t had a Cuban sandwich in a long time so I would say pretty much any half decent Cuban spot will give you a good Cuban sandwich. It’s really tough to screw that up.



    DAVY V.:

    Best Media Noche sandwich in the 305?



    DJ EFN:


    Same thing. But when I did eat those all the time I was good with La Carreta Restaurant!



    DAVY V.

    Best pasteles in Miami?



    DJ EFN:


    Take me to any little mom and pop bakery and it’s going to be good.



    DAVY V.:

    What’s your favorite thing about living in Miami?



    DJ EFN.:

    Our winter time is the best weather in the country!



    DAVY V.:

    What about your least favorite thing?



    DJ EFN:


    Our summertime weather is the worst weather in the country!



    DAVY V.:

    What’s next for DJ EFN? What projects are you working on?



    DJ EFN:

    New Coming Home film. Coming Home: Colombia. Working on turning the film series into something bigger. I will eventually do a follow up to my 2015 album “Another Time”, so stay on the lookout for new music from me and if you never checked out my studio album, check it out.



    DAVY V.:

    You won the 2002 Justo Mixtape Awards. You’ve worked with legendary Hip Hop artists and groups such as KRS One, Wu-Tang Clan, and OutKast. You’re a successful filmmaker, producer, and entrepreneur. Most recently you launched the Drink Champs podcast which has more than 5 million listeners monthly, and which you cohost with LeFrak Queens, NY Legend N.OR.E.

    As someone who started in the streets, literally, with mixtapes, what advice can you give to The Davy V. Blog readers out there who are grinding to reach their dreams?



    DJ DFN:


    Do what you love. Do it for love, not for money. And do it consistently.



    DAVY V.:

    Any shout outs?



    DJ EFN:

    Shout out to the white Miami massive!

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    DJ EFN and the Crazy Hood Crew
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