The new monthly performance series will take place at Streetlight Guild on the East Side
The Lincoln Theatre’s recurring, 10-month “incubation” program — “Expanding Your Horizons” — provides business knowledge to emerging visual artists, actors, playwrights and musicians.
For DJ Krate Digga (Jesse Jackson III), completing the program in 2015 was transformative.
“I felt that I had unintentionally fallen into a certain space where I had to do certain things because I was a DJ,” said Digga, who has been performing for 22 years. “Being in that space with those folks reminded me: ‘No, I'm an artist.’”
In a world where laptop-toting DJs are hidden in the backs of venues and anyone can customize a playlist on a streaming site, Digga’s dedication to spinning vinyl is refreshing. It’s also an art form integral to the culture of hip-hop.
But Digga is not satisfied with simply honing that technique. In recent years, he has taken his artistry to new places, physically and conceptually.
“Sometimes, just being great isn't good enough,” said Digga, who will premiere original work on Saturday, Aug. 31, at Streetlight Guild. His performance will be the first installment of the venue’s new monthly series, The New Canon.
In 2017, Digga partnered with Streetlight Guild founder Scott Woods for “Holler,” a 31-day showcase of black art in the city. Digga took his turntables into the Columbus Museum of Art, played a wider breadth of music and paired it with customized video.
“It gave me an opportunity and a platform for people who, quite frankly, were never going to come to the clubs,” he said. “It offered me a level of legitimacy, for some people to say, ‘Oh yeah, he's at the museum; he must really be an artist.’”
Partnering with Woods again in 2018 for “The New Black Eastside Songbook” show at the Garden Theater, Digga composed an orchestral piece, “Blight Privilege.” The song, spliced with audio of Mayor Andrew J. Ginther and other city officials, tackled local issues of gentrification and community-police relations.
And in 2019, Digga created a multidisciplinary stage production, “Let the Rhythm Hit’em,” at the Wexner Center for the Arts.
For The New Canon, the DJ promises “the full Krate package.”
“I'll be doing some DJ-ing. I'll be doing some piano-playing. I'll be doing some guitar-playing. I'll be doing some drumming” Digga said. “I'll have (dancer) Brianna Rhodes doing some choreography. It'll have a visual component as well, and we'll be incorporating a technology called Phase.”
Phase, a wireless DJ controller, “allows you now to be able to play your MP3s through these remotes,” he said. “So I don't have to use my needles. ... I don't even have to use control vinyl.Technically, I don't even have to use turntables. It just has to have that circular motion.”
According to Digga, he could use the technology on items such as a bike tire, a pizza pan or even a fan. But he has something even more unusual in mind.
“What if I take the Phase out of the context of playing a song, and now I just want to create sounds with someone moving with the Phase?” he said. “So, in comes Brianna and her choreography. … The sound of that is determined by how she moves.”
Digga thinks it’s never been done before. If he’s right, his track record indicates that he might be the artist to make it happen.