Peering at the crowd from behind his thick-rimmed specs, head nodding like a metronome; his sound is one of confidence and controlled frenzy, as highlighted in Newcity Magazine, where he was honored in their annual Music 45 issue—alongside the likes of Kanye West, Andrew Bird and Smashing Pumpkins—as one of the top 45 musical artists in Chicago. This was just after being listed in URB Magazine’s “Next 100” issue and recently voted “Best Local Dj 2010 and 2011” by the Chicago Reader Viewer Poll.
“…Zebo packs a cut-up crateful of styles, from hip-hop and B-more to French, Electro, Disco and even a nasty snippet of a techno track or throwback freestyle gem. While this maximal approach might be increasingly common among DJs who cater to the ADD-riddled mash-up club casualties, Zebo stays head and shoulders above the rest for knowing that just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. Skills can be honed, but taste can’t be taught…”
Although house and jungle dominated his early turntable diet, Zebo is a polygamous lover of music, and he hustled to find any opportunity to play, be it raves, loft parties, weddings, corporate parties, in-store events and fashion shows. He is also an instructor at Columbia College teaching both a Club Dj part 1 class as well as an advanced part 2. Outside of which he runs the Chicago-based, Hot Dog Records with partner Marco Morales. A label that focuses on releasing any style of music and artists that represent Chicago.
It is this genuine love of music paired with incredible deck acumen that propels DJ Zebo beyond the reach of all the other DJs trying to out-reference, out-cred and out-mix each other, their varied selections resembling 10 pounds of shit in a 5 pound laptop. Zebo’s not simply wearing his musical heart on his sleeve—as the WAV file tattooed on his ever-moving forearm might seem to indicate—but actually spinning dance floor gold with both his technical abilities and intuition in reading the crowd, a modern day Serato-equipped Rumpelstiltskin.
Yet for all his vaunted versatility, no matter what direction his sets head, Zebo’s initial love of jungle seems to subconsciously permeate his music at peak hour, with bombastic basslines rolling on and on underneath familiar hooks and clever samples. Pitched-up, pitched-down, scratched-up and around, Zebo’s a populist at heart, finding the redeeming values in both subterranean cool and overt pop—it’s a delicate tightrope to walk, but this DJ has the balance to pull it off.