Cameroon is probably the last location you’d think to go searching for one of the Nation’s Capital’s fastest-rising, open-format DJ/producers. However, when it comes to the story of DJ Bo, it’s all about taking a journey to the central African nation in the mid-90s to find a young man who loved to dance and was soon to come to America to discover an exciting new passion and future career. Some 15 years later, the man born Aloysius Tamasang in Bamenda, Cameroon is now a Gaithersburg, Maryland-based party rocker with five years under his belt and growing in renown.
The oldest of three brothers, DJ Bo relocated to America in 1999 because his parents wanted “a better life and better schools” for the then 11-year-old future DJ. Describing himself as “the life of the party” as a youngster, it was in high school and college where he was introduced to music production and DJing, respectively. “When I grew up, I didn’t know about hip-hop, scratching, or sampling,” Bo tells On Tap. Thus, when Bo discovered Houston-born, New York based classic rap legend DJ Premier, he became fond of all three aforementioned arts, and decided to learn the art of DJing. “Most African DJs don’t scratch records or anything, they mainly blend songs,” Bo continues. “So, I just taught myself scratching, and also how to DJ too.”
Getting active in the Metropolitan area was difficult. A slew of less-than-excellent early gigs led Bo to redouble his efforts, which led him to travel to Atlanta to develop his skills. And finally, he met with success. “I started DJing at clubs in Atlanta with a friend of mine who was a [more seasoned] DJ, and I definitely started to get comfortable.” Back in DC, from spinning for online radio shows to playing gigs at underground spots like the Velvet Lounge and large venues like the main room at downtown DC’s Penn Social (two spots he still claims as his favorites in the city), Bo not only grew confident as a DJ, but his tastes evolved far past rap, too.
“I’m not a fan of just spinning hip-hop. People don’t dance as much to hip-hop these days. I can’t read those crowds, because I always read a crowd [by judging] how much people are dancing. You know, dancing, [and] people making that ‘ooh’ face and yelling when you drop their favorite record. Hip-hop clubs don’t offer that a lot these days. I want to play music and have as much fun playing music as the people are dancing to it.” Underground-favored American house, percussion-heavy EDM, UK-popular dance, and a growing love of tracks from a plethora of African nations are routinely mixed alongside rap in Bo’s sets, creating a feeling where the DJ states, “I’m in there with the people, feeling what they feel, and really getting a crowd to move.”
Spinning three and four nights a week is fairly commonplace now for DJ Bo, and as a producer. Bearing such a busy schedule now allows for making remixes of tracks that can fit into his unique sets to be where his skills and talents lie at present. “I’m obsessed with fresh and progressive drumbeats, things that make you want to ‘turn up,’ but also really dance, too.”
When asked about what 2016 holds for DJ Bo, he answers with what could almost seem to be an expected answer. “I want to play outside the country and break out of my comfort zone,” he tells On Tap. From moving to America, embracing rap, and then embracing a world of unique and dancefloor-ready sounds, Bo’s always excelled at finding himself while also staying ahead of the curve. As a DJ, he’s a talented creative who’s able to push not just himself, but partiers too, along the quest for something great. However, what signifies him as someone important is that he’s also able to consistently deliver something more.
To learn more about DJ Bo, follow him on Twitter @BoKnowzBest.
Photos courtesy DJ Bo