The Lineup

Apple Juice Kid

Chapel Hill, N.C.

Calling Apple Juice Kid anything less than one of this state's musical treasures would be as offensive as it is misguided. Aside from amassing production credits for commercially successful artists like Wale, Mos Def, Camp Lo and MC Lyte, Apple Juice has helped anchor a diverse music scene here at home. As the lead drummer of the hip-hop band Sankofa, the Kid, or Stephen Levitin, immersed himself in a music community that would later set him on the path to win several local and regional beat showcases, create the "live electronica" Apple Juice Orchestra outfit and help propel his most recent band, The Remix Project, to two albums worth of hip-hop covers. They've since become a highly coveted house and club act.

All of these worlds and more collide on Levitin's 2003 solo LP, Plus +, which also left plenty of space and opportunity for Apple Juice to discover worlds of music ahead. Since then, Levitin has released three separate "remixed" projects, on which he offers his own interpretations and musical arrangements for Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis, and Frank Sinatra. What's more, his space-age, experimental duo—Freebass 808, with Camp Lo emcee Geechie Suede—released two full-length projects to critical acclaim, all while he's been moonlighting as an Ableton-sponsored DJ and making guest DJ appearances on Mark Ronson's East Village Radio show.

Levitin's next big move just might be his most meaningful yet. He's now heading an activist organization called Love Propaganda, which aims to "fuse the worlds of music and art with the worlds of social and environmental activism. He'll do this, of course, in between trips to New York to co-produce tracks with Ski Beatz and putting together another one of his frenetic Dance Clash mixtapes. A busy man, an active man—a treasure, indeed. —Eric Tullis