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Turning the Tables

Rockin’ with Ronson.

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Ronson’s debut album.

Photo By Courtesy of Elektra Records

NEW YORK — Here comes Mark Ronson — again. But this time, New York’s DJ darling is not behind the turntables spinning for P. Diddy’s birthday or the Costume Institute. With the release of his debut album, a mix of hip-hop, pop and alt rock called “Here Comes the Fuzz,” out on Aug. 26, Ronson, 27, proves he’s worthy of recording in the studio alongside his celebrity clientele. Plenty of boldfaced names appear on the record as guest artists, from Q-Tip to White Stripes frontman Jack White.

“Basically, I wrote nearly all the music, cowrote a lot of the songs, play all the instruments, except for a few songs where there are horns, and produced the whole album,” says Ronson, whose made-for-MTV looks have earned him pinup status among the city’s female clubgoers.

He spent two months in the studio recording before approaching the artists he imagined playing on each track. Some, like Mos Def and Q-Tip, Ronson considered his friends. “That was kind of awkward,” he says of asking them to participate, “but I hoped they didn’t mind.” But landing artists he hadn’t met, such as Sean Paul, the Nappy Roots and Weezer frontman Rivers Cuomo, took some convincing. “I’d send them an instrumental track and see if they were interested,” he says.

Ronson’s best friend Alex Kane, a music video director, made a documentary of the process, heading to Kentucky when Ronson recorded with the Nappy Roots or to the studio for a jam with Mos Def during the album’s seven-month gestation. “We’re going to try to do something cool with it, like make a DVD to go with the album, or put it on the Web site,” says Ronson.

Making a video for the single “Ooh Wee” with Ghostface and Nate Dogg, currently playing on the radio, is next. Though the budget is small, Ronson says he’s hoping to do “something cool with animation.”

But with his budding success, what will become of Ronson’s DJ career?

“It means the price goes up,” he says, adding that he’s been suffering a bit of DJ burnout lately, and subsequently has “watched my bank account quickly shrivel.” But maybe, he says, he can master the turntables without being so concerned about the “celebrity DJ” stigma: “Once you have a record, people see you in a different kind of light.”
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