As one of the country’s premier turntablists and producers, DJ A-L’s timeless, authentic expression merges the past with the future. It entertains and educates. It moves your body and provokes your thoughts.
Ever since A-L first heard scratching on Run DMC’s Peter Piper, as well as sampling on Digital Underground’s This is an EP, his life changed. Obsessively scratching and creating mixtapes around age eight, A-L became infatuated with hip hop.
He began collecting equipment by pulling worn out speakers out of trash cans, and if he scraped together enough money, he would routinely head down the road to purchase used vinyl records and second-hand turntables from his local thrift store. At that time, a DJ had to innovate. The culture was secretive, so you had to be self-taught.
“Back then I didn’t know what I was doing,” he says. “At the time I was just breakin’ stuff.”
Now, over twenty years into the game, A-L still treats each performance as his only chance to convert audiences to life-long fans. It’s that type of hunger he brings to every performance. When A-L started in nightclubs, he wasn’t sure how the crowd would react to his style of mixing. At times he felt like he would get fired at the end of the night by playing more than top 40 and breaking the format. Surviving and later thriving in those same environments conditioned A-L to take risks, often pulling that one record out of the crate that no one else would dare to.
Since then, A-L has shared the stage with legends such as Public Enemy, George Clinton, and De La Soul. He’s deejayed hundreds of private parties, special events, and corporate gigs including events with Moet Hennessy, High Times and Red Bull.
He currently curates and performs a residency at Ophelia’s in Denver, HYPE Dance Party, A-L’s throwback monthly event that gets treated with the detail and presentation of an art installation.
DJ A-L has been featured as a DJ on LL Cool J’s Rock the Bells Radio on Sirius XM, and has hosted and contributed to the “longest running Hip Hop radio show in the world”, Colorado’s own Eclipse on KGNU. As a producer A-L is highly sought after on BandCamp, and as a remixer and editor, he currently contributes to the “World Famous” Beat Junkies Record Pool online.
When he’s not performing live on stage and doing radio spots, he’s putting in work and putting out original production and remixes through his label, Retro-Respect Records. The independent record label specializes in hip hop, r&b, funk, and soul vinyl releases. The label has produced numerous projects by A-L with guest features from Camp Lo, Sadat X, Rodney O, Craig G, EDO, G, Opio of Souls of Mischief, and more.
Since his first release in 2015, Retro-Respect has released 20 records which have sold thousands of copies worldwide. His releases have been showcased by such talent as Z-Trip, DJ Nu-Mark of Jurassic 5, and DJ Koco.
After carving out a lane for himself and navigating the music industry for decades as a self-taught DJ and Producer, A-L understands the necessity of good leadership. Over the last decade he has given back as an educator both locally and abroad. DJ A-L has developed curriculum and taught students through organizations such as Youth on Record in Denver, CO and Hip Hop for Change in Oakland, CA. In Mongolia in 2019, A-L represented the U.S. as a Hip Hop cultural ambassador in the Next Level Program. Overseas he designed curriculum around Hip Hop music, taught and mentored upcoming artists and put on shows for the local Mongolian community.
If you want to be entertained, educated, or reminisce on your past, or if you just want to dance to the timeless sounds that A-L has immersed himself in over a 20-year career, you can guarantee his roots are firmly planted in the foundation of hip-hop and music culture. He's paid his dues because he understands you don’t just show up and be great. He continues to innovate and constantly challenges himself and the established sounds a DJ provides, which today has earned him the trust and respect of a worldwide audience.
Written by David Gordon 2023