He said I’d fit here like a hand in a glove,” says hip-hop spinner DJ Neil Armstrong. The ‘he’ being referred to is desi joke slinger Russell Peters. “I asked him what to pack when travelling to India and he said pack a ‘dhol’,” laughs Armstrong, who is in India for a multi-city tour across Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata over the next three days. The ‘maker of fine gourmet mixed tapes,’ as he likes to describe himself, is best known as R&B star Jay Z’s DJ.
Until 2009, the Grammy-winning artiste wouldn’t even tour without Armstrong. He’s also spun for the likes of Rihanna, Kanye West and old-skool rappers like Busta Rhymes, LL Cool J and even Wyclef Jean. In India, to play as part of Vh1’s Hip Hop Hustle, Armstrong will play a mixed tape of some of his best-known collaborations with the popular artistes he’s scratched for.
“I know Punjabi hip-hop is big in India. I have seen a lot of desi artistes in NYC and sure I can do some bhangra,” he says, listing Jay Sean, Punjabi MC and Russell Peters as some of his Indian buddies. But Armstrong is more than just a back-up console artiste to some of the biggest names in hip-hop. The cut-and-scratch DJ has also released two award-winning albums, Original and 2Original.
“I grew up playing and making a lot of mixed tapes. I like soul as much as I dig rap. I have mixed everything from Run DMC to James Brown,” says Armstrong, who’s packed in Method Man, Hall & Oates and others on his albums. Armstrong was also a member of the critically acclaimed Grammy-nominated jazz band, Russell Gunn and Ethnomusicology. “I would like to explore more new music. India should inspire me, hopefully,” he says.
Catch DJ Neil Armstrong perform live tonight as part of Tuborg Vh1 Hip Hop Hustle, at Blue Frog, 10 pm onwards.