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Solillaquists' DiVinci infuses tech into Ms. Lauryn Hill’s live show

DiVinci discusses his creative collaborations and close friendship with the mother of hip-hop invention

Photo: DiVinci and Ms. Lauryn Hill Photo by Michael Alvarado, License: N/A

DiVinci and Ms. Lauryn Hill Photo by Michael Alvarado

Photo: Solillaquists of Sound Photo by Lindsay Tompkins, License: N/A

Solillaquists of Sound Photo by Lindsay Tompkins

MS. LAURYN HILL with Solillaquists of Sound

8:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 15 | House of Blues Orlando, 1490 E. Buena Vista Drive, Lake Buena Vista | 407-934-2583 | hob.com/orlando | $49

Solillaquists of Sound producer-MPCist Glen “DiVinci” Valencia Jr. is no pussy. Just ask Ms. Lauryn Hill, who serendipitously met the local hip-hop talent in July 2011 and now counts him as collaborator and friend, extolling him as a soldier of the stage due to his ability to be assertive, helping to strengthen her live show without creatively overstepping or losing himself to her sound.

DiVinci had just landed in Philadelphia to catch a connecting flight to Orlando from Solillaquists’ tour in France when he got the call inviting him to join Hill’s band to perform at the 2011 L.A. Rising Festival. On the other end of the line was Hill’s manager, a former Orlando local who had hooked Solillaquists up on their first official tour in support of Dwele in 2004 because the band’s live show impressed him. Despite the facts that DiVinci’s gear was already on its way to Orlando, the show was in less than a week and he ordinarily does not make snap decisions, he knew his answer instantly.

“In the past, for stuff like that, I would’ve been like, ‘Ah, I gotta check my schedule,’” DiVinci says. “But something about this, I was like, ‘Yes!’ I didn’t need to think. I interrupted him. I just yelled, ‘Yes!’”

Really, it’s the only natural response for someone with hip-hop in his blood when the “mother of hip-hop invention” calls. DiVinci remembers making video mixtapes of Fugees remixes ripped from episodes of Yo! MTV Raps, and he followed Hill’s solo career closely because he always felt she was the best MC and singer in the group. So it was trippy enough to be there on her stage, programming drums live alongside music vets like Living Colour’s Doug Wimbish. But when she invited him to join her as she performed The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill in its entirety for the Rock the Bells ’11 tour, time basically lost meaning as his past and present blurred.

“We redid every song from scratch,” DiVinci says. “So I’m sitting there programming drums for songs that I used to sample, and I’m sampling them again so I could make them work for her. It was a crazy moment of realization that, ‘Man, when I was a young teenager, I was sampling this snare from “Lost Ones” to make some of my own first beats.’”

Before long, DiVinci became known as the band’s GPS, providing audio and visual cues to keep stage communications clear, something Hill was criticized for when she did Rock the Bells in 2010. His role in the band broadened as he recognized that Hill’s vision was not always completely delivered upon, and he incorporated a laptop into his stage setup to contribute backing tracks in addition to his live drum programming.

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