Real creative people need true creative studios to work. The legendary Andy Warhol had one called The Factory, and it was where he made the magic happen. The Factory was a meeting place for artists and musicians alike. Individuals like Lou Reed, Bob Dylan, Mick Jagger, and Salvador Dalí were regulars. But for some reason these days there seems to be less people taking advantage of creative spaces. Places where energy can flow to allow and even enhance creativity. One such place the concept is lacking is hip-hop. Though all artists work in studios the concept has downsized to small rooms anywhere a mic can fit. That is not the case with The Compound in the Bronx though. Started by DJ Set-Free, The Compound is a new age creative art studio. And it is where the biggest names in the genre are collaborating to bring the fans true innovation.
It was a Wednesday evening this past September in a marijuana smoke filled room when I met DJ Set Free. We were there for a private listening session of the new project “Hate Me Now” by acclaimed Harlem rapper Dave East. East is an artist signed to the label Mass Appeal, owned by iconic rapper Nas. When I walked into the studio East’s manager Wayno greeted me after seeing me through a crowd. Almost immediately after he gave me an enthusiastic introduction to DJ Set Free. Despite being in a room full of important people it seemed I was getting introduced to the one who held the most weight.
Set Free is an inconspicuous man by most standards. Standing at six feet tall, you might not pick him out in a crowd of people from the hip hop industry to be as accomplished as he is. He does not wear any flashy jewelry, or go out of his way to be in designer clothes as many do. But he definitely comes off as someone who is comfortable in his own skin.