Timothy Washington's dreads are not a fashion statement, but a cultural and spiritual move the 25-year-old undertook eight years ago. "I always had a little Afro," he says, "but I wanted a truthful cultural image for myself." The dreadlocks gave him a sense of independence—of strength—that he could survive and create a means of living in today's society.
The now-successful record spinner, mixer and producer chose the name Phingaprint in the early '90s because when he scratches and manipulates sounds, his fingerprints are left on the vinyl, and because "no two people have the same fingerprints."
In the late '80s, early '90s, it was DJs Sleepy and Howie doing their mix show on 90.1 WMPR that told Phingaprint he wanted to do that, too. His parents bought his first set of turntables in 1985, and then the Jackson native got his start at a fellow Powell Junior High student's New Year's party; he DJ-ed for free. All through school—he's a 1995 graduate of Murrah—Phingaprint's gigs included school dances and talent shows as well as mixing tapes to give away or sell. Still juggling DJ duties while earning a degree in psychology at Jackson State—Phingaprint began to produce for area rap and hip-hop artists.
"Any place is a good place to do music if you have the capacity to be creative and use your environment," Phingaprint says. He should know. Phingaprint works retail at Be-Bop in Maywood Mart, spins on Hot 97.7 FM Thursdays between 9-10 p.m., and DJs at Freelon's Bar and Groove. He is using his knowledge of retail, radio and club as he partners with long-time friend Jayclipp in Point Blank Entertainment, their young company that specializes in DJ services, music production, mixed tapes and promotions.
As the DJ for fellow Mississippian David Banner's Dirty South tour, Phingaprint loved to use call and response—"Hey, any independent women in the house? With your own hair, nails and car? Make some noise!"—to keep the audience hyped during breaks in the stage action. Growing up in a two-parent household gave Phingaprint a solid foundation and a respect for education. He feels compelled to communicate with young people now, explaining to them the realities of life as he sees them—reading really is fundamental, and you can be a success at anything you want to do as long as you focus persistently with patience. All it takes. he says, is commitment.