Music News

The Beatdown

A little after five on a sunny Saturday afternoon, Cassidy Bednark, aka DJ Bedz, is holed up in the Coors Light booth high in the rafters of the Pepsi Center. Tipoff is still two hours away, but Bedz, the official DJ of the Denver Nuggets, already has his game face on.

On the court below, the sultry Nuggets dancers are practicing their routines -- but Bedz is too busy to notice. He's fingering the "play" and "stop" buttons on his 360 sound bank -- an industrial-sized, iPod-esque contraption that looks like a Rolm phone -- like he's playing Galaga. Tonight is Supermascot Rocky's birthday, and Bedz is trying to find just the right song to mark the occasion. He plays a snippet of the Ramones' "Happy Birthday, Mr. Burns" and a few others before settling on the Beatles' "Birthday." The charge may seem trivial, but Bedz takes his job very seriously.

And his attention to detail continues to pay off. On Wednesday, February 16, Bedz became the first local DJ to appear on BET's Rap City, a noteworthy accomplishment considering that past guests have included A-listers Clinton Sparks (profiled on page 71) and DJ Kid Capri. But even though Bedz is among the hottest club DJs in Mootown, his work behind the tables wasn't what attracted BET execs. It was his savvy PR skills and tenacity that won him a trip to the cable network's studios in New York.

"I had been sending them press packages for a number of months, probably five or six," Bedz reveals. "I sent them mix CDs, resumés and bios. In recent months, I placed a particular emphasis on the All-Star Game, the fact that I'm the Nuggets' DJ. I figured that was a pretty good selling point. I actually had the chance to speak with one of their producers on the phone a couple of months ago, at which time he wanted me submit my biography and CDs directly to him. I didn't hear from him for a couple of months, so I kind of thought that I was out. And then, just kind of out of the blue, they said, 'Hey, All-Star's coming up. We want to book you for the 9th to film so that we can air the episode during All-Star week.'"

Fewer than a dozen DJs are employed by NBA teams; Bedz, now in the middle of his second season with the Nuggets, parlayed his unique position into a spot behind the decks at the NBA-sanctioned Jam Session events that run through February 21 at the Colorado Convention Center. Like the Rap City slot, Bedz landed the spot by making himself available -- and being persistent.

"I kind of openly solicited myself to the NBA," Bedz says. "I found out who the proper contacts were and said, 'Hey, my name is Bedz, and I'm the Nuggets' DJ. Do you have any interest in using me for Jam Session or anything during All-Star break? I'd love to be part of it.' And lo and behold, it actually worked."

Things usually work out for Bedz, and the Nuggets' gig sounds particularly cush. So does he get to kick it with Melo, or at least the honeys on the dance squad?

"They actually discourage us from being up in their business," Bedz replies, "especially when we're on the premises. Those guys are there to play ball, and if I was allowed to distract them, then there's no reason that Suzy from accounting couldn't distract them. There's just kind of a blanket policy of, you know, pretty much leave them alone when they're at work, which is at the arena. Although I do run into the guys at the clubs sometimes."

Not that Bedz has much time to kick it these days. When he's not minding the music for the Nuggets -- at forty-plus home games during the season -- he's at KS-107.5 manning the Friday- and Saturday-night street parties, as well as Thursday's RadioBums Quick Mix. He also maintains a Saturday-night residency at Bash, and together with DJ Petey, he records and distributes a monthly mix tape. Thing is, when Bedz got his start nine years ago, he didn't set out to be a jock.

"I was twenty," he notes, "and my mom got me a turntable for Christmas, which is funny, because I didn't even ask for one. She kind of just read into my interest -- my love for hip-hop and my love for music -- and decided I should probably have a turntable."

It wasn't that big a stretch: At the time, Bedz was studying music composition at Occidental College. After graduating and moving back to Denver in 1998, he slowly integrated himself into the scene. Before long, Chonz, the Nuggets' first official DJ, heard one of Bedz's mix CDs and invited him to be in the RadioBums record pool. Later, Chonz passed the Nuggets ball to Bedz. Now he and his partner, DJ Psycho, oversee most of the music at the games.

In the Coors Light booth, Bedz is poring over a five-page spreadsheet that details every facet of tonight's game; at the same time, he's listening intently to his boss, Harlan Hendrickson, through his headset. Psycho, meanwhile, has been spinning a slew of classic-rock cuts: Van Halen followed by the Steve Miller Band and Living Colour. It's not what you'd expect from a couple of top-notch hip-hop DJs, but they're keeping it fan-friendly.

The players are about to be introduced, which means it's time for Psycho and Bedz to go to work on the tables. Over the course of the next few hours, Bedz will feverishly work the 360 as the ball moves up and down the court. During a game, his intensity rarely subsides; he's totally immersed. When the Golden State Warriors have the ball, Bedz plays one of nine organs housed in the 360's memory. "No one ever scores," he points out, "when we play the Italy organ."

"Grant Hill is the only one who ever scored," interjects Psycho.

So why not play the organ every time the other team has the ball?

"If we play it out," Bedz says, "it might lose its effectiveness."

That's why he's the DJ and I'm the rapper.

Upbeats and beatdowns: A slew of out-of-towners are hosting events this week to mark All-Star Weekend; for a sampling of those parties, see Club Scout on page 117. (And before heading to any of them, be sure to check the LoDo street-closure map on page 87.) While many of the big bashes will feature imported talent, there are several opportunities for local star-gazing, too. On Thursday, February 17, Ground Zero Movement will be joined by RRAAHH Foundashun and Platinum Rush for the M.H.C. All-Star Bash at Bender's Tavern, while Yo, Flaco!, the Crunk Brothers and Freedom Movement set it off at the Soiled Dove. And at 3:30 p.m. Friday, February 18, Jeff Campbell, aka Apostle, and representatives from his Colorado Hip-Hop Coalition will perform at the Jordan Xxperience (a club built just for the weekend at 1825 Blake Street), with DJ Musa Bailey providing the beats.