Best of Phoenix

The Shop Keeper

Turntablist-promoter Al Page rocks the party hard on Saturdays with his underground hip-hop night The Shop at Hidden House. Packed so tight the female next to you will feel your cell phone ringing on "vibrate," The Shop is the spot for true hip-hop heads to hit and not have to worry about hearing some bullshit. Page and his rotating list of guest DJs play everything from The Pharcyde and Run-D.M.C. to Lupe Fiasco and Blackalicious, with a lil' Marvin Gaye and Michael Jackson thrown in for good measure. Page always keeps it fresh, live and realer-than-real. In his conversation as well as his sets.

Dark, My Ass
I've been DJing five years. I started out in Scottsdale. I was a Friday night DJ there for two years. There's a lot of politics dealing with Scottsdale. There's good money, but you get stuff like the owner coming up to you and telling you, "It's getting a little dark in here," meaning that there are too many black people and you should play some AC/DC. I got to the point one night where I literally picked up the turntable and had it over my head. I was going to throw it down, but a friend grabbed me. That was the last time I ever played there.

What's in a Name?
I don't have a DJ name. I figure these people spend millions of dollars in studio time. Producers like Quincy Jones and Jam Master Jay. And you have the privilege of playing these records? It's like you're taking credit for some shit you really didn't do. That term "DJ" — some people abuse it. Some people want to become a star. I wouldn't even call myself a DJ. I play records. I'm a selector.

Bon Vivant, Baby
I've been hanging out in the streets since I was in seventh grade. I am a social butterfly. I've got friends who are drug dealers, gang-bangers, fucking punk rockers, yuppie real estate moguls, and stockbrokers. I know heads everywhere. That's what's great about The Shop. It's very diverse.

Thanks, Pop
My dad always played records. He was into Grover Washington Jr., George Benson, Bob James, Cannonball Adderley, shit like that. I still have those records, and they get played at the club — old Rufus and Chaka Khan; Earth, Wind & Fire. Seriously, I have records in my crates that my dad had when I was 5 years old.

My Way or the Highway
The average person is basically a programmed robot. Whatever MTV or the Top 40 radio stations play, that's what they listen to. What's amazing to me is how many people will come up to me and request something like Yung Joc, Young Jeezy, or the latest artist whose name starts with Young or Lil'. I'm like, "You heard that song on the way here. You heard it at the club you went to before you came here. So you're not going to hear that shit here."

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Stephen is a former staff writer and columnist at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Stephen Lemons