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Hip hop’s ‘ratchet’ king, DJ Mustard, gives free concert and dines at Girl and the Goat

“You ratchet!” “Stop acting ratchet!” “That song/video/tv show/church sermon is ratchet!”

The word ratchet has reentered the everyday lexicon and is taking on a meaning decidedly outside of what’s printed in Merriam-Webster’s dictionary. In today’s world, ratchet usually is a combination of lewdly, humorously bogus shenanigans. But for DJ Mustard, born Dijon McFarlane, ratchet is music. His music.

Yes, you’ve heard it. Think: YG’s “My Hitta,” Trey Songz “Na Na,” and TI and Iggy Azalea’s “No Mediocre,” and club jams like Tyga’s “Rack City.”

Recently signed to Jay-Z’s Roc Nation, and slated to drop an album before summer’s end, the LA-based Mustard swears his next album will showcase his vintage style and feature “the usual” collaborators, including Nipsy Hustle, Ty Dolla $ign and “Jeezy, of course.”

Adds the beats maestro: “Of course it’s going to be ratchet! Who you talking to? Ratchet. For sure.”

Let’s back up a bit. This conversation took place Saturday at the Double Door, where Mustard performed for free as part of the Brisk Iced Tea “Brisk Bodega” concert series in conjunction with Noisey and Chicago’s own hip hop website Fakeshoredrive. Mustard got on stage after WGCI’s DJ Moondawg warmed up the crowd, and local artist Tree performed. (Scroll way down for the Youtube. Note: The Fakeshoredrive video features occasional strong language, so it might not be OK for listening at work. Break out those Beats please.)

DJ Moondawg , adrienne samuels gibbs
And just before Moondawg made things way too loud to conduct an interview, I chatted with the West Coast producer about his groundbreaking career and what it’s like to have a hand in some of the hottest club bangers out right now.

As Complex says, Mustard is “running hip hop” . And though he has worked with Miley Cyrus, Chicago’s own Jeremih and others, including Wiz Khalifa, his songs are best experienced in a club situation. There, you can experience the beat. Feel it. That said, in a world where hot djs (think: David Guetta) are as popular as rappers, Mustard is winning. “We are headed that way but in a hip hop way,” says Mustard, referring to his goal to meet or exceed Guetta’s radio domination. “It’s gonna be my own translation though.”

LA Weekly captured Mustard with this gem of a paragraph:

His breakthrough was Tyga’s “Rack City,” a quintessential summer jam with a minimal-funky bassline, snaps, and cold-blooded 808 drums. It detonated stripper poles and satisfied the “menace quotient” for guys who’d prefer death by rockslide to dancing to radio trance-rap. Mustard’s beats bang hard enough for the hood and catchy enough for the Top 40.

Again. Ratchet.

Last fall he signed to Roc Nation, and he actually likes it. (Who wouldn’t?) “It’s like being with the family,” he says. “I need help with anything I call them and they’re there. You know how people have bad tastes with labels? My label is fine.”

He also stopped by Girl and the Goat for a dinner with the entourage. They didn’t have a reservation but somehow got in anyway. Maybe it was the Jay-Z connection.

“I had a lot of food I’d never had before,” says Mustard, reflecting upon Stephanie Izard’s award-winning fare. “I was just giving them a try you know? Broaden my horizons. I had something, some flower s**t. It was good though. Squash Blossom. It was actually dope.”

Video below:

— Adrienne Samuels Gibbs