You can count on it: DJ Nu-Mark's hit single on its way. When, exactly, that day will come remains to be seen but the veteran DJ and producer says one day, "for sure," it's coming.
"I know it will happen," Nu-Mark says in a phone interview from his home studio in Los Angeles. "It's just a matter of when and who I'll be working with and what will push me in that direction."
He came close in the early 2000s, as one-half of hip hop collective Jurassic 5's production team. The group was responsible for some of the most thoughtful and progressive hip hop at the time to combat the ghetto-ization of mainstream rap, but in 2007 the group imploded without ever wooing mainstream audiences completely.
Since then, Nu-Mark's kept busy with a variety of projects — solo mixtapes and singles, producing albums by comedy troupe The Lonely Island and former J5 member Chali 2Na. In November, Nu-Mark will release his new album, Broken Sunlight. He's released three singles from the album as the Broken Sunlight Series on 10" colour vinyl. The new tracks, released throughout 2012, have showcased an affinity for soul, jazz and Latin music, fused, though not indebted to, the hip hop he built his career upon.
He'll release three more singles leading up to Broken Sunlight's release this fall, which will feature guest spots from Bumpy Knuckles, Large Professor, J-Live, Ernie Hines, A. Skillz and more.
The singles are the sound of an artist striving for musical perfection, shedding past influences and past successes to reac his musical potential. They're rewarding and masterful ruminations of injustice and strife in the modern world — set to some of the finest Latin-flavoured hip hop beats released this year. But Nu-Mark says he's nowhere close to where he wants to be, musically.
"I don't know if I have made an impact (on the world)," he says. "That's the thing with being an artist. I actually think the opposite sometimes — like, well, I haven't got to the point where I need to be musically. I haven't achieved musically what I want to. I don't think that what I've done has impacted anybody. I feel like I have a lot more work to do," he says.
"I think I'm in the stage of my career when I did the hip hop thing with my group, and by myself as well, where now I'm putting out music that I can stand behind. I'm not really painting myself into a corner with a genre. I just want to put out music that I stand behind."
His months are split between recording and touring. At the time of this conversation, he's recording some beats for the soundtrack to a film, Battle of the Year about a b-boy competition.
This week, he's trekking across Canada (including a tour stop in Whistler next Thursday, Sept. 27), showcasing what, exactly, he's perfected since starting out DJing as a 13-year-old back in 1988. He still employs the old-school techniques — scratching vinyl, and all the rest — but it's merely a vehicle to "rock the crowd."
"There's a lot of confusion about what's cool and what's not. None of that really matters as long as you rock the crowd and make it happen on stage," he says. "My thing is, you know, use whatever tools you want and rock the crowd and have a good time while you're there."
It's also a way to keep Nu-Mark fresh in your mind. Because that number one hit jam is on its way, and when it does, you'll remember when you saw him, up close and personal.
All of Nu-Mark's singles, as well as a pre-order of his upcoming album, are available only through www.unclenu.com.