The Beatdown

Oh the places a mix tape can take you. From homemade mixes to DJing private parties for artist Keith Haring, Junior Vasquez pushed aside his dreams of working in fashion to become the big daddy of DJ culture. Vasquez, who makes his Dallas debut Saturday night, gained fast popularity in New York some 20 years ago for his heavy bass lines and tribal beats that pioneered the house music sound dominating clubs by the early ' much so that he opened his own clubs, most notably the Sound Factory. Soon enough, American pop idols were courting Vasquez for his sound: Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper and MC Hammer all came his way, and even John Mellencamp got the Junior redux on his 1992 hit, "Love and Happiness." The tag team of Vasquez and Madonna would give the genre its biggest classics with "Like a Prayer" and "Bedtime Story," the latter of which he calls a personal favorite. But his song "If Madonna Calls," using a not-too-nice phone message she left, didn't rub her the right way.

Life after Madge isn't so bad. Mariah Carey, Destiny's Child and Maroon Five have all been given the Vasquez touch. Check out his work on Maroon Five's "This Love" as he turned the alt-rock radio hit into a pounding dance-floor juggernaut. He's evolved into a producer with his own label, JVM, working with newer artists such as Vernessa Mitchell and Jason Walker and is developing a reality show in search of America's next superstar DJ. Seems like this "Juniorverse" has come a long way from a mere mix tape.


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