Listeners of Charleston's Z93 Jamz' Da Breakfuss Club already know Natty Heavy (a.k.a. Nate Lopes) for his on-air skills. In fact, two years ago the station he faced-off against famed hip-hop artists Common and Method Man, resulting in what Natty says was a humbling loss to Common and a jubilant victory over Method Man. "It was like an award for all the hard work," says. Natty Heavy, whose name was inspired by the blue-collar beer Natural Light. "It was like a reason for becoming a DJ."
Natty's specialty lies in mixing and blending, an intuitive hip-hop artform altering and interchanging various songs' lyrics, melodies, and beats. His performances have captured the attention of club owners, audiences, and fellow DJs.
"A lot of the guys are cool with each other down here," he says. "We give a lot of support to each other. I've been blessed enough to have the ability to present a consistent, quality product. I get the way words flow with a beat. Musical theory — I get that."
Natty can typically be found at one of Charleston's clubs on the weekends, turning bars into romping, stomping, bass-flaring celebrations. Aside from craftily mixing and remixing various songs, as well as compiling party-sparking playlists, the down-to-earth producer's style stems from an uncontrollable urge to let loose alongside his spectators.
"I want people jumping up next to me," he says. "I get a lot of energy from the crowd, and I like being in the midst of things."
With a makeshift music library containing more than 34,000 songs suiting occasions, including weddings, kids' parties, various charity events, and even occasional office parties, Natty aims to provide musical backdrops for any social gathering — anytime, anywhere. "I do it all," he says. "My goal is to look into a crowd and see people dancing."
The gregarious producer's ability to rouse a crowded room's spirits reflects a lifelong pursuit toward seizing the spotlight. He recounts a memorable performance at downtown's Henry's House when his laptop — containing his musical software — was knocked off a platform, suddenly halting the party's music. However, the DJ instantly rekindled it by spontaneously beat-boxing until he could get the music playing again. "The party never, ever, ever stopped," he recalls.
On Z93 Jamz, Natty Heavy produces various skits, audio mixes, and parody songs. "I'm a witty guy when I need to be," he says, regarding his Weird Al Yankovic-inspired pieces. "That kind of stuff comes natural to me."
Occasionally collaborating with Natty is his dog Rhody, a Yorkie mix who the DJ rescued from an animal shelter two years ago. Natty claims his four-legged companion holds a vast lyrical arsenal and recalls the dog barking in rhythm one evening alongside an instrumental beat. "For an amateur, he was OK," he says. "He was trying his best."
Lopes has considered inviting his four-legged companion to a late-night performance; however, he recognizes the pooch is easily startled. "He's a cool dog, but he's afraid of thunder," he says. "He'd probably go and hide under a table."
The DJ is preparing for an upcoming performance at Skinful Halloween 2011 at the Brick House Kitchen. Natty says, "I like this area, man. The vibe in this town is very easygoing, and I don't picture myself anywhere else."