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Wednesday, Aug. 13, 2008

Friends Remember DJ Rock Dee

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   It was raining Monday morning when Radio Milwaukee 88.9's airwaves broadcast a solemn set of music, with a somber Scott Mullins hosting at an unusual time slot. Milwaukee awakened with the hard truth that DJ Rock Dee, born July 27, 1968, had passed away. Though known most recently as a DJ for Radio Milwaukee, Rock Dee had deep ties to the city's hip-hop scene. This is a tribute to him, a story told by just some of those he knew and loved.

  Hip-hop was our way of life. It wasn't about the dollars; it was about the love for the music. -Doctor B, owner of the Scratch Pad, one of the first sources for hip-hop records in Milwaukee, and a famed local DJ who mentored Rock Dee.

  Rock always wanted to talk about hip-hop, and the social consequences of hip-hop. He was miraculous, known for his ability to scratch while he would take off his shirt, climb over the mixer, come back under and never miss a beat. -Truth, friend and student of Rock's.

  Rock Dee helped birth hip-hop in Milwaukee. -DJ Lando Lan, co-producer who grew up with Rock.

  Rock was in a group called Gumbo who appeared on "Soul Train." I was watching and screaming at the TV, "Mom! Rock is on TV! Rock is on TV!" -Michael Riser, longtime friend and follower of Rock's.

  Rock was on the forefront of bringing Milwaukee to another level when it came to hip-hop, bringing mix tapes and break beats to this city. -Doctor B.

  Rock Dee and Speech from Arrested Development produced a record called "Shake It Right" on Just Rockin' Records… No matter where he went, he gave shout-outs to everybody. -Deanna, Rock's first wife.

  A go-getter, a motivator, an inspiration, and he paved the way not just as a DJ, but as a human being. -DJ Supreme, Rock's friend from high school.

  He was ahead of his time. He was an insider with the latest slogans, like "Hold it down," well before an album would get big. -Michael Johnston, AKA Mike J, a friend of Rock's and a DJ for WMSE during the '90s.

  He was a hip-hop purist. He has all the respect and props from the old-school pioneers in Milwaukee. -DJ Thief, longtime friend and mentor to Rock.

  He was an extraordinary man, able to touch so many people's lives. It's so great to be able to say that DJ Rock Dee is my father. -Rickie, Rock's second eldest son, age 20.

  Always happy, always cheerful, always had a hug for me, and I'm six-feet eight. -Michael Guy, co-worker and longtime friend.

  There's going to be a gap in Milwaukee hip-hop forever. No one will ever fill his shoes. -Stricklin, a Milwaukee rapper and longtime friend, managed by Rock.

  He would give love back. I'm proud to say that we were there from the beginning, but feel even better because of him as a person and the effect he's had on the next generation of DJs. -George Sharp, AKA FreshG, DJ for WLUM in the early '90s and a mentor to Rock Dee since the mid '80s.

  Just rockin' the party; that's what he did. - Doctor B.

Nearly two dozen bands, DJs and MCs-including Element, the Rusty Ps, Fever Marlene, De La Buena, DJ Marcus Garvey, DJ Tarik Moody, Old Man Malcolm and DJ E-Rich-play as part of a day-long benefit for Rock Dee's family at the Wherehouse, 818 S. Water St., on Sunday, Aug. 17 beginning at 1 p.m.