Born in Beirut, Lebanon, and raised in Vancouver, Canada, Rob Rizk has never stopped moving. A pillar in Vancouver's underground music scene, this dedicated multitasker is all things to all people – a shrewd businessman, a well respected dancer, noted DJ, and a tastemaker. But no matter what path he’s pursuing, Rob Rizk is always hustling on his own terms.
In 1989, Rob was a founding father of GCK posse, a B Boy Crew which included future Van City hip-hop stars Flipout (A.M.P.) and Misfit (Rascalz). As high school seniors, Rizk and Flipout also formed a rap trio named Show And Tell (later redubbed What The Hell) with Mad Child (who would go on to form Swollen Members). With Flip and Mad manning the microphones, the acrobatic Rizk supplied the B-boy flavor, and by the time the trio opened for Salt ‘n’ Pepa at the PNE Coliseum in 1992, they seemed well on their way to stardom.
After relocating to San Francisco in 1992, Rizk crossed paths with fellow Vancouver native Garrett Louie (a.k.a. GMan) at the ASR Trade Show in San Diego. Following the disbanding of What The Hell, Rizk moved back to Canada and collaborated with GMan to establish the country’s most well-respected urban music promotion company www.gmanandrizk.com. As the men behind Vancouver’s best and longest-running hip-hop weeklies – El Famoso (1993-98), Grande (1998-2004) Big Up Saturday @ plush night club ( 2004 to 2010 ) and Int’l Gold (1999-2009) – GMan and Rizk are pioneering figures on the West Coast, laying the foundation for Vancouver’s burgeoning hip-hop and dance music scene.
A tireless multitasker, Rizk continued to hone his dancing skills even as his promotions company took flight, establishing Western Canada’s foremost B-Boy crew, Contents Under Pressure, in 1996. Representing their hometown at battles all over Canada and North America, CUP gained the respect of the world famous Rocksteady Crew, appearing in several videos alongside their heroes, and being invited to a multitude of Rock Steady Crew events. Rizk’s dancing career was soaring by 1998 when he faced a new adversity, breaking his ankle in a motorcycle accident. Undeterred by his injury, Rizk set his sights on the turntables, indulging his love of Deep House, Afro-beat, Classic Hip Hop , funk and Soul Music from behind the ones and twos. Over time, he realized that was in love with the art of DJing, and went on to spend the time necessary practicing and opening up for various guest DJs who would appear at his club nights. Soon enough, his confidence and collection was at a level where Rob felt as though it was time to take himself seriously as a selector, and he began the initial phases of making himself known for playing records as well as he danced to someone else playing records.
“There are no secrets in life,” he says, kicking back at his elegant loft on Vancouver’s east side. “There’s just hard work and persistence.”
Having spun sets in New York, Philippines, Miami, Lebanon and San Francisco and opened hometown gigs for Antibalas, Tony Allen , DJ Jazzy Jeff , Grandmaster Flash , Little louie Vega ( MAW ) and Jerome Sydenham ( Ibadan Records) Afrika Bambata ( Zulu Nation ) , Jazzanova ( Sonar Kollektiv ) , Afrodesia , Marques Wyatt ( Deep , L.A ) , Osunlade ( Yoruba Records ) , JoJo Flores ( Gotsoul ) , Ron Trent , Fred Everything, Julius Paap, Alex Alveraz,
Not content to rest on his laurels as dancer – he made an appearance in the new video by Toronto’s K-OS ( B-Boy Stance) – nor content with settling for his ownership stake in Vancouver’s premier nightspot ( Fortune Sound Club 147 East Pender ) www.fortunesoundclub.com , Real-estate and a sneaker shop ( Live Stock - 239 Abbott) www.deadstock.ca . Rizk has also added the title “globetrotting DJ” and the proud owner and operator of Fortune Sound Club in Vancouver www.fortunesoundclub.com to his long list of accomplishments. Through it all, the man continues to pursue his passions with the intensity of eternal youth.
“I don’t know if there’s anything better than music for bringing people together,” says the affable selector. “It’s very spiritually rewarding when I can see a roomful of people enjoying good music together – that’s the main reason I love deejaying so much.”
“You know how children are always excited and interested to learn?” he asks rhetorically. “That’s how I like to approach life. As long as I can maintain that perspective, then I’m happy.”
So, it seems, are his many admirers.