Features, Print July 25, 2019

Rock Om: DJ Drez heads to ARISE

by Kyle Eustice

DJ Drez has essentially moved like a ninja throughout his entire career. He’s worked with several notable names while simultaneously retaining his humble demeanor — and that’s no easy feat in the music industry.

In the late 1990s, Drez — who is rooted in the Los Angeles hip-hop scene — had the chance to work with Eminem, but this was years before Slim Shady became the trailblazing, multi-platinum-selling MC he is today. Although Drez and Em didn’t develop any type of special bond, Drez says “it’s a trip” they ever worked together.

“That was a long time ago, somewhere around 1997,” Drez recalls. “I was part of a hip-hop group called The Anonymous and a friend of a friend suggested that we work with him. He was dope, so we did. 

“One of the other guys from the group was engineering the recording that day, so I came in later to do the scratches. Eminem and I had some run-ins at clubs a few times, but that was it. The first time we met was in Las Vegas when I was DJing a Stress Magazine [‘90s New York City-based magazine] party. He came up to me, introduced himself and handed me his record.”

DJ Drez came from the underground L.A. Hip-Hop scene but now focuses on beats with a spiritual intent, performing at yoga festivals such as ARISE August 2-4 in Loveland.
Photo by Nina Konjini

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Drez has collaborated with Macy Gray, Black Eyed Peas, Black Star, KRS-One and Project Blowed, among others. But as a solo artist, Drez creates something far from the chart-topping pop beats you might expect. He weaves together incredibly layered, almost tantric soundscapes such as 2005’s Jahta Beats and 2009’s Jahta Beats: A Path To Light. Despite being 18 albums deep into his catalog, Drez simply can’t stop creating. 

“The music creation is constantly flowing,” he says. “I just released a new album titled Sweet Storms. It’s an experimental project on a few levels. It’s not totally the beat-driving Drez people are familiar with. I wrote and recorded all the vocals myself.” 

With music at the core, Drez and his wife Marti Nikko are also heavily involved in the yoga world. Along with the Hard Rock Hotels, the duo founded the Rock Om program, an in-room yoga experience intended to energize the body and soul through the power of music. 

“It’s really cool,” he says. “You can go into any Hard Rock Hotel room around the globe, turn on the TV and practice yoga with my wife and me while listening to my beats.” 

But Drez and Nikko have a specific mission in mind. One of their primary goals is to help people understand that balance is critical to having a happy life. 

“The root of the teachings is first acknowledging that we are humans,” he explains. “Ease, challenge, happiness and sadness are all apart of that experience, and that is meant to be experienced and respected. However, by having a yoga practice, some kind of mind + body discipline, we can navigate this life in a more balanced way that can lift us back up over and over again even with all the hard knock-downs.” 

The Rock Om program goes hand-in-hand with not only his music career but also his spirituality. Drez reveals he consistently feels the presence of something larger than himself and has often had magical experiences as a result. 

“I’ve had these experiences for most of my life,” he says. “The especially big ones are hard to put into words and are better kept within. There is a subtle magic almost daily that shows me that we are all part of a masterpiece. It is our privilege as well as our greatest task to do the work so we can contribute in a responsible way to this great creation.” 

DJ Drez can be found spinning an inspired sonic trance at the Arise Festival’s Yoga village, August 2-4 at Sunrise Ranch in Loveland. Tickets for day and weekend passes at www.arisefestival.com