Louis Bolling Tribune correspondent | May 26, 2016
Bruce Campbell Jr. may be Philadelphia’s personification of Superman and Clark Kent within the city’s storied hip-hop music scene.
An assistant professor in the Department of Leadership for Educational Equity and Excellence at Arcadia University, Campbell holds a doctorate in Educational Leadership and Learning Technologies from Drexel University and a master’s degree in Urban Education from Temple University.
As co-host of Drexel University’s WKDU radio show Eavesdrop, with Philly producer Lil’ Dave, and founder of Record Breakin’ Music, DJ Junior is akin to a musical Superman.
“I’m Jamaican, which is the running joke,” Campbell said. “But I don’t like to sit around. I always like to be busy and I really love music.”
Humble and measured when interacting, Campbell has found tremendous balance between his academic career and love of music.
“I’ve never wanted to be the center of attention,” explains Junior, who grew up on his Jamaican parents’ socca and reggae and began collecting hip-hop and soul records at age 15. “I’m just a fan of music; I love introducing listeners to artists from different genres that they might not get a chance to hear.”
Recognized as a “Distinguished Educator” by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, Campbell has consulted with school districts in throughout the Commonwealth and worked at education research firms and non-profit organizations including Research For Better Schools and the Philadelphia Education Fund.
At Arcadia, Campbell uses the classroom to connect with his students through his passion for music. Co-facilitating a course, Get Your Groove On: Exploring the Urban Music Scene in London and Philadelphia, Campbell provides an in-depth comparative experience in both the London and Philadelphia music scenes. He has incorporated HBO’s popular show “The Wire” into his syllabus to get students more interested and make their learning more real.
In 2007, Campbell started Record Breakin’ Music, a Philadelphia-based boutique record label. Earlier this year Campbell contributed to Dust + Dignity, an educational experience promoting dialogue and advancing social justice through the exploration of the relationship between music and visual art. He help curate the exhibit, which featured an audio tour with over 100 vinyl albums covers selected by DJs Cosmo Baker, King Britt, Rich Medina, Skeme Richards and himself, DJ Junior.
“We are in talks to take it [Dust + Dignity] to Chicago, Miami, South Africa. If we can get funding, then we will do it and present it in the format we want to do it in,” Campbell said. “We have a short film where the DJs talk about the project. We also want to do youth workshops around artwork and social justice.”
Through his work and travels as DJ Junior, Campbell has helped break new music acts for more than a decade. Recently one of those acts, The Foreign Exchange, performed at Union Transfer with Junior warming up the crowd before the show.
“DJ Junior was one of the first DJs that broke us on college radio,” said Dutch producer and multi-instrumentalist, Nicolay. One half of The Foreign Exchange, with rapper and singer Phonte, Nicolay called Campbell a “kindred spirit.”
“As a group, we prefer not to have other bands perform with us. We like to have a DJ, that we dig, warm up the crowd,” Nicolay shared during an interview while on tour. “We’re looking for a different kind of vibe that represents a movement. DJ Junior represents that vibe and has done so ever since we connected.”
Being both professor and artist can be demanding and challenging. Being good at both, at the same time, can seem almost impossible. Somehow Campbell has been able to excel in all he does.
“Balancing being a professor, DJ and running a company can be challenging,” Campbell said. “But when you like what you’re doing, you’re going to find ways to do it. I just find time to do it.”