Local Spotlight: Offbeat

Our interview series continues with a quick look at one of Jackson’s brightest spots, the alternative culture, record, art and comic shop, Offbeat. We had a nice sit down to discuss comics, music and how Offbeat is helping the Jackson minority arts scene. Let’s Go!

Who are you and what is the Offbeat?
My government name, that my mom gave me, so I could get a job, is Phillip Rollins, but most people know me as DJYoungVenom and offbeat is an alternative art store that acts as a cultural incubator.

What service(s) do you offer?
We had Tacos Tuesdays, shows from local acts and surrounding states. Places like New Orleans, Texas, Atlanta and other places as well. We sell records, comics, designer toys, import toys, and we’re an art gallery for young minority artists. Right now we are hosting Kelsy Middle School’s art projects where they had to do cartoon characters as a representation of themselves. all the kids are selling their work for like $25 in order to learn how to make off their art. What a lot of art classes don’t teach you is how to make money off of it.

What makes Offbeat a unique experience?
I’m trying to bring something that has been kinda lost for the past couple of years. Record stores died and comic book shops are kinda dying, kinda not, with digital comics and iPads and stuff. With me growing up, I went to comic shops to see what’s coming up, and to record stores to see what’s coming out. I was going to Bebop when Fingerprint was working there, so him being a DJ he was always going to play what’s dope. It’s nothing like that face to face experience, and the conversations. I have DJs in here practicing spinning to artists in here working on their sketches or sticker designs. It’s that community experience you get with here, not just a place where you come in, buy, leave.

What originally got you into DJing, Video Games and Comic Books?
As far as video games it’s something I just gravitated towards. My Godbrothers always had the newest video games because their dad was a doctor. They had the Power Glove, Pad, and I didn’t have none of that. I had a Nintendo of course, my grandma would spoil me, cause I was the only grandbaby. I was always into video games. As far as comics, my Mom read comics and that’s how I learned how to read. That’s where I learned what a Wolverine actually was because every word I didn’t know, she would make me look it up. I was into the Ninja Turtles and would use to draw. As far as with music and DJing, the movie Juice was heavily inspiring. I watched that with my Godbrothers and I remember the DJ scene always resonated with me. When I got in Middle School I was always buying CD’s and while at home I would flip between Toonami and Rap City. I started doing Mixtapes after my mom showed me Napster, for people in class and people I worked with. After High School, I got an internship at the local radio station 97.7 and learn from the DJ’s from there.

What are some comics that you recommend when people ask you?
The Luther Strode series, I definitely recommend that. It’s about a boy takes an atlas challenge in the back of old comic books and gets super buff and powerful. Then it turns out the book has dark connotations and the people behind it are evil. It’s like a self-made superhero story. I don’t want to get too much into detail its got a ton of spoilers. It’s excellent. The book I’d recommend is the Immortal Iron Fist Vol. 1. It has the feel of an old kung-fu movie but it’s more grounded in a sense. You can relate to the hero a lot more. Another one is The Wicked and the Divine, which if you take idol worship and combine it with Pop Idol worship, and all these pop idols happen to be gods. So, you’ve got Lucifer is a God, Persephone. Gods from Greek to Roman to Egyptian Gods to whatever you can think of. One of them (the gods) gets murdered and there’s a mystery behind it. How about the last two be Mangas? One Punch Man…it’s is easy to get into. It makes fun of superhero culture, cause it gets kinda hokey at times. I mean it depends on the person, as I haven’t said anything really dark, but I’m gonna say Berserk. Berserk is really, really, really dark, but the first couple volumes will get you engaged enough, to be like, “Ok, where is this gonna go?”

If a kid comes in and says I want to learn how to DJ what are the steps you take?
Get your own equipment. Wow, that was very succinct and to the point. I went to Fingerprint at Bebop, said I want to learn how to DJ. He said, “Ok cool, you got your own equipment? No? Well, get your own equipment and then I’ll teach you” I didn’t understand why he said it then, but why I say that to people that come in is it shows how invested you are, and how invested you will be. You can come in and mess up my needles, but whatever you learn here, whatever I teach you, you need to be able to take that home and practice yourself.

Would you care to share the wackiest thing that’s happened in Offbeat?
ANSWER: Oh, I don’t know. The weirdest thing that happened here is every 6 months or so this old white guy drives by the shop and says hey, I want to buy that building. I don’t really have toom many stories other than people getting drunk in here, and me laughing at my interns.

What’s your opinion on the evolution of music business?
The business has definitely changed. You have to be seen more than heard. Like, say for instance, Designer, he’s one of those people you have to see him, then hear him, to get him. Most people would say he’s terrible, but I’m just like, he’s a kid. Think about all the stupid, dumb shit you did as a kid. When you’re 19 with at least half a million in your pocket. Think about all the dumb shit you would do. With that said, it’s not terrible. Like, I survived the snap era of music, which was terrible with tall tees and shit. The one thing I hate about music nowadays is there is no balance. On the radio and on even on TV, there was a time when we had Rap City, and you could see Tribe Called Quest, then Cash Money, then No Limit on the next video, then Nas, then Outkast, there was a balance where everything was cohesive and together. Now everything sounds the same because it does sound the same. People from New York sound the same as people from the south. But music is out there, it’s on Soundcloud, and there’s no excuse for people not to search for what they like.

What is your vision for Offbeat and the art community within Jackson, MS?
I hope to at least expose more artist. As far as with the gallery, Adrian Dominic has gotten her name out there quite a bit. Justin Ransburg, after his showing, he ended up doing murals around Jackson. All of the artists we have after the kids get taken down will be women for the rest of the year, minority women. Probably up until next March. I just want to show how much talent we have out of Mississippi. Oh our infrastructure is bad and our education system is terrible, but I want to show that there’s talent in what I consider the true crossroads of the south.

Offbeat is an alternative culture store that specializes in designer toys, graphic novels, records, and art books. We are also an art gallery that showcases the work of young minority artists around the state. More info can be found on their Facebook pageand at offbeatjxn.com.

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