By Jena Ardell
By Brian McManus
By Chaz Kangas
By Sound of the City
By Peter Gerstenzang
By Katherine Turman
By Chris Kornelis
By Brian McManus
Then, 12 years ago, with Kiss FM blaring in the background, Wiz heard the voice of his old partner Caz, on air as part of a Cold Crush Brothers tribute. Making his way to the station, he passed along a piece of paper with his DJ name on it until it got to Caz—a coy move that sparked a reunion and caused Wiz to once again swoon under the gaze of his old muse. "I started to get more involved with hip-hop as a form of channeling out my creative juices," he says with a redemptive symmetry.
With the music back as a familiar factor in Wiz's life, the decision to pen his thoughts was, he says, "a whole different ball game!" An intention to write a book focused on hip-hop's aesthetics morphed into something altogether more frank: An early scene in It's Just Begun recounts Wiz's first time stabbing someone in cold, grisly detail, which sets the tome apart from the glossy vacuity of most musical self-profiles. "I wasn't ready to talk about my life at first," he explains. "My life is complex and so obscure, but once I started doing it, it was very therapeutic. It opened up chapters of my life not opened up for decades."
Now, 35 years on from stumbling into hip-hop at a PAL gymnasium, "I feel like I've managed to become relevant again," he explains. His name may not be writ large on an old-school record cover, but with a Friday-night show on Urban Latino Radio (spinning vintage rap tunes); spots bringing his aggressive DJ style and penchant for furious, up-tempo breakbeats to grassroots hip-hop activists Tools of War's "Turntablist Sessions"; and as creator of the Hip-Hop Meets Spoken Wordz fundraiser, which has brought together the Cold Crush Brothers with new-generation fire-starter Immortal Technique and Def Poetry Jam poetess La Bruja to perform in aid for the homeless, Wiz is back as a cog in the hip-hop machine.
"There's even talk about the book becoming a movie," he concludes. "So I'm testament to the positive things that hip-hop can do to a life."