By Carlos Gomez
DJs have to crawl before they can walk. Such was the case for MurphiBennett Roderick Michael Kennedy (it's a family name), but today he's running the show.
After watching from the sidelines at the 2011 Fortune 421 DJ contest at Sidebar ultra- lounge in the Gaslamp, Kennedy decided to come back the next year and win it. And that's what he did this past November. The victory heightened his street cred overnight.
The soft-spoken 27-year-old who lives in Mission Valley has definitely received a shot of steroids to his career. All of a sudden, he's performing at some of San Diego's hottest spots, including FLUXX, Hard Rock Hotel San Diego, Stingaree, Ivy Nightclub at Andaz and more. DJ Murphi Kennedy competes at the Fortune 421 2012 DJ Contest held at Stingaree.
With his mixing of electronic dance music (EDM), house, open format, and what he calls "hip-house" (a mash-up of hip-hop vocals over obscure house tracks), Kennedy hopes to venture out and perform in other cities, and eventually Europe.
"Now it's like I'm in it to win it," he says. "It's scary and fun and cool at the same time, because I'm still waiting to wake up."
Kennedy grew up "musically confused" in Los Angeles, where he was influenced by his grandfather's affinity for old jazz - Miles Davis and Louis Armstrong - and hip-hop beats. He didn't particularly care for the lyrics of the latter.
He moved to San Diego five years ago. Local DJs Scott Feld, Ayla Simone and Chris Liosi helped get him into the house and EDM scenes.
"I basically started DJing for children," Kennedy says. He played birthday parties, bar mitzvahs, quincean?eras, Sweet 16s and First Communions. After those gigs, and lessons from local DJ Lee Schneider, Kennedy felt ready to move up. His first club set was in April 2012 at North Park's U-31.
The 2012 Fortune 421 DJ contest was held at Stingaree. For eight weeks, Kennedy battled against the area's up-and-coming DJs in a single-elimination tournament. Each DJ got two 30-minute sets. The one with the best music selection and overall crowd reaction moved on to the next round.
Kennedy would scout his competition and try to envision what the crowd would want, without adhering too much to a Top 40 playlist. After every battle, it was back to the drawing board to improve his performance.
"My career was at stake," he says. "My goal wasn't winning; it was doing the best that I could do."