OSUNLADE with JOJOFLORES and MAT CHRYSDALE at 8 Below (12 Brant), Saturday (January 13), 10 pm. $20. firstname.lastname@example.org Rating: NNNNN
It's okay to call Osunlade a house DJ - be it tribal, deep or soulful, at your discretion. "Production guru" is also acceptable. "Live musician" and "record company honcho" are both accurate. "Ordained priest of the African Ifa religion" wouldn't be incorrect.
However, whatever you do, do not call him retired. Contrary to hearsay, Osunlade, who admits to flirting with the idea of pulling a Jay-Z, insists he certainly has not hung up his mixer.
"There is no truth to this at allo pure rumour," says Osunlade from his retirement-ready hideaway on the Greek island of Santorini. "I said before that I would retire from DJing, but the demand grew more after that announcement, so I continued.
"I do plan to stop at some point to only perform live, but I won't say when or announce a retirement.
"People have a tendency to hold you to things without understanding that a change of thought can occur based upon where you are in life. They become fanatic about your decisions, as if you have to stay within some bounds."
At 37, it does seem as though Osunlade (Jerry Rodriguez) has already done/seen enough to call it a day. His first break came back in 87 as a teenager discovered by Toni "Hey Mickey, You're So Fine" Basil, who proceeded to hook him up with some Hollywood score work and a stint on Sesame Street.
"I [get] the craziest questions about it. Some think I was an actor on the show, some think I played Big Bird," says Osunlade, who still receives the occasional residual cheque. "It's amazing how things are blown out of proportion."
A few years after ditching the Street, he started manning control boards for major-label names. But it wasn't till then newly founded Interscope Records hired him for production on a Latino pretty boy by the name of Gerardo (yep, those beats in Rico Suave are his) that his career really took off.
The single was a monster, securing Osunlade years of major-label work churning out Teddy Riley-esque jams for the likes of Patti Labelle and Freddie Jackson, among others. By the end the 90s the producer was burnt out.
Unable to get the labels he worked under interested in his own creations, he waved goodbye to the La-La Land music biz, crediting "lack of love of the music due to business circumstances" for killing his passion. It would be his first near-retirement.
When Osunlade formed Yoruba Records, he became an artist in his own right. Channelling his love of traditional African sounds through the R&B experience he gained from the studio system, he began releasing house singles and moved to New York to start spinning.
When he dropped Paradigm (Soul Jazz) in 2001, many cited it as the house record of the year. Though his latest, Aquarian Moon (BBE), is a musical culmination of those years spent as a house DJ, it digs a bit deeper into Osunlade's past.
"This album represents more or less the types of music I grew up writing and enjoying," says Osunlade, "mostly funk, soul, jazz, but with an electronic hue. It's just a mix of those colours blended to show a hint of things to come.
"Over the years, I've become known for house music more than anything else, but that's just one genre I create.
"The labels bother me. None fit, they're all little boxes for people to feel comfortable with. It's hard to get out of them, so I never really claim any of them. When people ask me what type of music I create, I say, 'Good music.'
"There are only two types for me: good and bad. I'd like to think I'm making the former."