- Associated Press - Sunday, November 27, 2016

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) - You may not know Homero Mendoza by name but he said he’ll soon be joining the ranks of Puff Daddy and Jay Z.

That is if the North Middle School eighth-grader is able to keep his grades up.

“Schoolwork comes first,” Homero, 13, said. “My DJ class comes in second, I guess.”

The Sioux City Journal (https://bit.ly/2g1kFBd ) reports Homero is one of the students enrolled in a Sioux City Conservatory of Music class taught by Brandon Young, who goes by the stage name of “D.J. Skribe.”

A professional disc jockey for more than half of his life, Young, 37, originally began scratching records as way to stay out of trouble.

“When a lot of my friends were joining gangs, I was getting into music,” said Young, who grew up in Sioux City before moving to Mesa, Arizona. “Music saved my life.”

This is why he began teaching a Friday night DJ class at the music conservatory in September.

“I wanted to show kids they can lead any life they want to live,” said Young, who is also a Western Iowa Tech Community College audio engineering student. “That’s important to me.”

Young and his students will be among the performers on the Orpheum Theatre stage during a special fundraising concert at 7 p.m. Saturday.

The nonprofit Conservatory, located at 1309 Pierce St., currently hosts 62 students with free lessons. According to co-founder Gia Emory, organizers would like to increase that number to 100 students by January.

This is fine by Homero, who is learning how to play piano in addition to his DJ class at the Conservatory.

“Taking lessons from (Young) is pretty cool,” Homero said. “He says ‘stay on the beat.’ Otherwise, your scratching will sound terrible.”

Even though he likes pop music and R&B;, Homero said such old-school hip-hop acts as Sugar Hill Gang, Run-D.M.C. and Beastie Boys are his major influences.

Young can’t help but smile after discovering his student’s favorite acts.

“Wow, Homero has pretty good taste,” he said, while listing off Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre as favorite hip-hop artists. Creedence Clearwater Revival is his favorite overall band.

Wait, Creedence Clearwater Revival? That seems like a random choice for a DJ.

“For some reason, I’ve always love 1970s rock,” Young reasoned. “Plus a DJ can scratch, mix, master and play to any genre of music.”

It’s a lesson he’s anxious to teach students like Homero.

“Being a DJ means you’re reading the mood for a room,” Young said. “If it’s super-chill, you play super-chill music. But if a room is ready for some dancing, you play music that will keep people on their feet.”

“And when people respond to your music?” he added with a smile. “There isn’t a better feeling in the world.”

That’s exactly what Homero wants to take away from Young’s classes.

“It would be pretty awesome,” Homero said.

But, first things first. Homero needs to come up with a cool DJ name, right?

“I’m thinking I’ll call myself ‘Slickback,’” he said, seeking Young’s approval.

“You mean ‘DJ Slickback’?’” Young asked.

“No, just ‘Slickback,’” Homero said with a sense of confidence.

“That’s an awesome name,” Young said. “Wear it with pride.”

___

Information from: Sioux City Journal, https://www.siouxcityjournal.com

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