JMAC On The Weekly Noun
Check out DJ J MAC’s story from The Weekly Noun! His path through DJing, forming Beyond Physics, and his dedication to the youth… original article at: http://theweeklynoun.com/person.html
DJ, producer mixes, masters own path
John “DJ JMAC” McIntyre
By J. Walker
The Weekly Noun
DEARBORN HEIGHTS/DETROIT – It’s almost 5 a.m., and another Sunday has drifted into Monday. The dude at the bar hasn’t slept much, but he waits patiently for his friend, asking for updates. He asks about her family, friends. He knows mom’s name, the kid’s name, everybody’s name. Then he asks if he can help and grabs a broom.
Another full day for the dude on the one’s and two’s at Randy’s Bar and Grill in Dearborn Heights. John McIntyre, aka DJ JMAC, spins each week for Sunday Funday, a gig that’s about five or six years strong now.
Earlier that night, longtime customer Ed Pujdowski offered an informed opinion on the DJ. Pujdowski, who is “about 65-years or so,” snapped photos for Ford Motor Company as a career, but also worked sporadically as a DJ in the early ’90s. He said he loves stopping in on Sundays for the tunes.
“Johnny Mac’s one of the best I’ve heard,” Pujdowski said. “You can tell him right now to go old-school, and he can bop right into it… He can mix it so good, you’ll think it’s the same song, but it’s just how he flows it.”
McIntyre, 30, said he has always dug music. He worked at Dearborn Music – owned by his cousin’s uncle, Rick Leannais – for about six years when he turned 16. His favorite genre back then was alternative, though working at the shop helped spawn his love of all kinds of music, he said. A show he attended as a high school junior put hip hop on his radar, sparking a love that would eventually lead him to buy his own turntables.
DJ JMAC doing his thing at Randy’s. (J. Walker/ The Weekly Noun)
On the ticket that fateful night were Jurassic Five, Dilated Peoples and The World Famous Beat Junkies. He bought the Jurassic 5 album the next day, and from then on, exercised his employee privilege of being allowed to open and listen to albums.
He listened to it all, especially his new love.
“I just started listening to everything hip hop,” McIntyre said. “Everything in the hip-hop section I could get into.”
“[I was] asking the people at Dearborn Music who were into hip hop: What do I need to know about hip hop?” He spent the next year learning, learning, learning. He started listening to jazz in the store’s jazz room, too. He noticed that some songs sounded like stuff he’d heard in some hip-hop songs, and that’s how he stumbled into the lesson of song samples. He started reading all the liner notes on his hip-hop records, and loved hunting down each sample to learn its origin.
“It was like, straight addiction,” he said. “It was kinda crazy.”
The years ticked by and McIntyre kept adding to his music library, consuming all the music that he could. Eventually, he wanted to share those tracks he’d been collecting. So around the age of 23, McIntyre walks himself into the Whiskey Bar, armed with “the jankiest of janky” music setups, including one CD tower and zero turntables, and asked to be the DJ.
When he talks music, his excitement is contagious because it’s unquestionably real. He means business. In his second of what will turn into three interviews, two at Randy’s and one at a personal residence, McIntyre, 30, always is polite and helpful. He even draws diagrams for the chick who can’t grasp the kicks and ticks of mixing. He stays disciplined and declines an adult beverage at the house; save for one shot of Jack Daniel’s shared with the interviewer. He has put his mind to staying svelte in the health department, he explains.
His story continues.
He talks about getting a Guitar Center credit card, and using it to grab his supplies. He speaks the language of turntables and related DJ-style equipment lovingly and fluently. The story moves across Warren Road to his gig at Randy’s, with a detour in Detroit’s Corktown Tavern, and gigs that happened there. He did weddings for friends and everything.
By then, he’d also begun learning the science of matching kicks and snares when pairing records. His growing love for local Detroit hip hop had led him to the work of the legendary James “J Dilla” Yancey. The late emcee and producer is known for his unique way of matching the snares, and McIntyre said it blew his mind to hear it. He found out that acts he digs, from Common to A Tribe Called Quest to De La Soul to Detroit’s own Slum Village, often shared a similar thread: Dilla produced it.
McIntyre does his best to break down the “genius that Dilla was,” and tries to explain the tech aspect for my rookie ears. Dilla may not have been the first to do it that way, but he’s the one who made the style known, McIntyre says. Dilla’s style is the perfect example of someone who knew the rule so well that he broke it brilliantly, he explains.
“He was the king of the late snare early,” McIntyre says. Dilla’s music also helped lead to a pairing now known as being “beyond physics.” Enter Valid.
So one day a few years back, a tall Serbian kid from Dearborn Heights stands up in a wedding. His name is Mihajlo Peric, but he goes by his emcee name, Valid. The after- party from the wedding moves to Randy’s, where, you know, this DJ is doing his thing. McIntyre recalls the kid being shocked that he was playing decent hip-hop, and asking if he had any Dilla.
Valid remembers it the same.
“He just started playing some crazy J Dilla shit,” Valid said by phone.
And after that, musically speaking, the two were love at first hear.
Valid started taking him around the local Detroit scene. He took him to Hip Hop Night at the Old Miami on Cass Avenue in Detroit. After attending a beat battle one night, pal Dave Pauley, of Daytwa Clothing, convinced McIntyre to start making beats, too. He listened.
He entered one beat battle, and then another, and another. He cheekily added “Bro Louis,” to his alias list, joining the more-inevitable monikers of JMAC and Johnny Mac. He competed, and often he got knocked out, but started hanging longer each time. In 2013, McIntyre took first at DetroitRap.com’s March Madness Beat Battle at The Shelter. A few months after the win, Valid and McIntyre dropped their first collaboration, an album pairing McIntyre’s break-beat samples-style production with Valid’s real-life storytelling-style spits. A fourth music video for the album got filmed last week at Randy’s.
McIntyre credits Valid as being “100 percent” responsible for bringing him into the local music scene. He talks about the guidance he received from local legends and veterans, like DJ Sicari Ware, the original driving force behind the 5E Gallery in Detroit. 5E is an infamous hub for local artists, especially hip hop that also pays a weekly homage to female artists in Detroit via a group called The Foundation.
McIntyre said he was again and again humbled each time he met a “known” artist, because most were generous with advice, and made the importance of helping others a lesson in itself, one that’s synonymous with Detroit hip hop. It sounds almost unbelievable, right? Hip hop artists from Detroit giving back to the community? Helping a rookie DJ from the suburbs learn his craft? Almost unbelievable, except this writer knows it to be true.
I met McIntyre through Valid, because I’m slowly documenting the hip hop community for graduate credit at the University of Michigan-Dearborn. As McIntyre talked about the unexpected kindness he experienced, it sounds kind of like how many artists have received my timid requests for interviews. McIntyre treated me the same when I asked for help with the school project. I really knew the kid was some kind of special, though, the night I heard him talking about his day job. A job Valid insists he’d probably do for free, he loves it so much.
“Jay’s a good-hearted guy,’’ Valid said. “He does a lot of community and volunteer work, and even his day job, it may be a job, but he does it for a good, pure reason.”
DJ JMAC helping out at the end of the night.
McIntyre coaches soccer by day, a continuation of his lifelong passion for playing the sport. Born and raised in Dearborn Heights, McIntyre spun his high school soccer career at U of D Jesuit into a scholarship for Quincy College in Illinois. He didn’t feel inspired there, though, and returned home where he played for Madonna University while taking pre-dentistry courses. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry, with the intent to become a full-on dentist. But then music and soccer happened, and you know, the two keep him happy.
McIntyre got serious about full-time coaching for Waza F.C. about two years ago, and now, he’s got four teams with about 50 kids, ranging in age from 10 to 14. Switching from playing to coaching wasn’t easy, and he’s still adjusting. He’s learning how to lace in the occasional stern with his laid-back style. His philosophy does not include yelling or belittling the children and teens.
He talks about learning the different personalities of kids, and how to tailor his approach to each age group. He talks about dealing with parents of players, and, well, enough said on that, eh?
McIntyre said while he may have had more financial wealth doing the dentist thing, he makes enough now, and he’s happy.
“At the end of the day, if you can make a career out of what you like to do, it may not be the easy road, but it’s often the most fulfilling,” he says. He said teaching youth comes natural to him, because he’s done it his whole life.
McIntyre said he often looked after his younger sister and half-brother after a particularly rough divorce between his parents happened when he was in second grade. He said he has come to terms with it, because that’s what he had to do.
“It is what it is,” McIntyre said. “It’s never really gotten any better.”
About a year ago, McIntyre was saddened by his half-brother’s decision to move back in with their mother and his brother’s birth father. Worried that his brother wasn’t getting all the facts, McIntyre put on his detective hat and went hunting records. From Dearborn Heights to Detroit to Illinois, McIntyre visited each court, collecting all the records from the divorce and subsequent custody hearings that resulted in McIntyre’s father becoming the legal adoptive father of his brother, many years ago.
McIntyre had let his brother live with him for awhile after college, but now hasn’t spoke with him except once by phone, since his brother moved to Chicago. McIntyre hopes to reconnect in the future, a future that seems to have exciting things ahead for the young-ish producer.
He’ll continue teaching his soccer kids, spinning tunes and producing joints with Valid and for other local artists, and on rare days off, he digs spending time with his girlfriend of four years, Michelle Silvestri. He’ll also keep asking about everybody’s welfare, because he says that’s what a person ought to do.
“Those kinds of things matter to me,” McIntyre said. “My friends and their families? They mean something to me.”
In an interview that happened via text, Randy’s bartender Jacquelyn Perry, a lively 28-year-old who never stops moving, confirms her pal’s sincere empathy for others. Perry’s uncle, Randy Landfair, is the Randy in Randy’s, and Perry has worked with McIntyre since the start of Sunday Funday.
Perry, a lively 28-year-old who never stops moving, eagerly agrees to give a quote or ten about her buddy “Johnny Mac.” Five a.m. has arrived by then, however, and Perry promises to text her thoughts the next day. When contacted, Perry says she prefers the text-style interview, and sends the following about her buddy:
“It is truly a difficult task trying to fit all the great things about JMAC into one quote,” Perry said. “Not only is he an extremely talented DJ, he’s a great friend who I have the utmost respect for.”
“He really shines in everything he does, not just in music, and that’s inspiring to me.
“I feel lucky to have someone as talented, calm, nice, patient, and overall just a great person, in my life. There aren’t many people like him in today’s society.”
Oh, yeah. That’s THE actual speaker that blasts the tunes spun by John “DJ JMAC” McIntyre at his weekly gig, Sunday Funday at Randy’s Bar & Grill in Dearborn Heights. (Photo by J. Walker/ The Weekly Noun)
Need more noise on the DJ JMAC?
Check out the #BeyondPhysics album here.
Sunday Funday is 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. every week. Specials include $2 pints, $6.50 pitchers, $13.50 domestic beer buckets, $2 Washington Apples and $3 Cherry Bombs. Randy’s is at 25122 W. Warren St., Dearborn Heights. Call (313) 278-3833.
Follow the music dude on Twitter, @DJJMAC19 and on Facebook at Facebook.com/DJJMAC19.