Public Enemy’s DJ Lord on beats, scaring the neighbours and the AIRA TR-8 drum machine

Public Enemy’s DJ Lord on terrorising his neighbours with the Roland TR-8.

When it comes to the pantheon of hip-hop heavyweights, Public Enemy are top of the pile. As the New Yorkers prepared to shake the O2’s Indigo venue, Roland ran into DJ Lord backstage and picked the mix-master’s brains on the past, present and future of music-making. We even managed to grab some live footage of him working the decks with fellow legend Davy DMX.

In this hilarious video interview, DJ Lord looks back on the beats that shaped him, tells us what makes a great turntablist and recalls a misspent youth “terrorising the neighbours” with the tracks created on his original Roland TR-808. “The test was to play it in your homies’ cars,” he explains. “So whoever had the killer sound system in the neighbourhood, you went, ‘Yo, play this beat, I gotta hear it in your car!’”

Fast-forward to present day, and DJ Lord is as busy as ever, telling us how it felt to support The Stone Roses in front of 60,000 fans at the Etihad Stadium, and revealing the details of his new supergroup with Chuck D, Cypress Hill and Rage Against The Machine. Through it all, the updated Roland AIRA TR-8 is still a vital part of his rig. “The digital age is here,” he says, “and if you don’t take advantage of it – you know what happened to the dinosaurs, don’t you?”