In "It's Just Begun: The Epic Journey of DJ Disco Wiz, Hip Hop's First Latino DJ," Ivan Sanchez and Luis "DJ Disco Wiz" Cedeno demonstrate how one of the first roses grew from the hard unforgiving concrete of the South Bronx. Sanchez and Cedeno (DJ Disco Wiz) take you on a voyage that exemplifies the beautiful, ugly, fragile, and precious aspects that are the tracks of the album that is DJ Disco Wiz's life.
History, I am often reminded, is not just about events, places, or particularly people by themselves. History does not occur in a vacuum, but it is the very interconnectivity of events, places, and people that are the fabric of history, and in a successful biography you get a glimpse of how the subject is affected by the changes in the world around them, and also you see their place as a historical actor. Sanchez and Cedeno are able to masterfully accomplish such a synthesis of story telling, history, and memoir. Whether discussing the infamous 1977 New York City blackout's reciprocal effects in the Bronx or the 9/11 attacks, you are thrust into the life of DJ Disco Wiz in a very real way.
What is truly wonderful about this book is that it unabashedly is HIP-HOP. It baptizes the reader with the destructive forces that turned America's urban centers into ethnic ghettos and their inhabitants into survivors who still fight and scrape to not only survive, but also maintain their humanity in circumstances that many of us cast a blind eye to--even if we came from those same unforgiving streets. It's Just Begun is not simply just some hip-hop remix of an Horatio Alger story, but DJ Disco Wiz's life embodies the raw, unedited, mind numbing funk that hip-hop can be, while simultaneously encapsulating the love of family, community, and self.
In a time where so called hip-hop intellectuals pontificate and theorize about the impact of the music and culture and largely only pay attention to singular aspects of hip- hop culture--namely rapping--DJ Disco Wiz lays a template down just like the "mix plates" that he and Curtis "Grandmaster Caz" Fisher created in his apartment for their shows. While it is important to make space in the academy for hip-hop, we must listen to the voices of the people that were there, no different than we cherish and pay homage to freedom fighters of social movements or the lions of jazz and the kings and queens of the blues. If you claim to "love" hip-hop, this book must be purchased and read.