As a youth, former Canarsie High School three-sport athlete Joe Rizzo balanced his life between his two loves: athletics and music. He received his first turntable from his dad, Andy, at the age of 14 and began spinning records for fun.
Rizzo played football, baseball and basketball for the Canarsie Chiefs while continuing to hone his craft of mixing and scratching records after every practice and game.
While he played well throughout his college career – making the JUCO Northeast Conference All-Star team with Nassau Community College – he found it difficult to give his all to both disciplines.
“It was the only two things I was vested in,” Rizzo said. “But it was almost impossible to dedicate myself to both at times.”
Rizzo’s playing days came to an end after college, during which he was able to dedicate himself wholeheartedly to spinning records full time.
It’s paid off for Rizzo, who has built an impressive career as one of New York City’s top DJs and producers. He’s played everywhere from Manhattan’s top nightclubs such as Palladium, Limelight, Tunnel and Expo, to exclusive places overseas. He’s even been fortunate enough to DJ several NFL special events, including a number of Super Bowls.
“I always wanted to go to at least one Super Bowl,” said Rizzo, who goes by DJ Riz. “I have been lucky enough to be the DJ at ten.”
In addition to all of his highlights, MC Serch of famed rap group 3rd Bass asked Rizzo to join him and DJ Eclipse for an appearance on the “Arsenio Hall Show” in the early 1990s.
“It was great,” the 44-year-old DUMBO resident recalled. “It was definitely an experience.”
On the production side of the music business, Rizzo partnered up with his old neighborhood friend DJ Sizzahandz to form the Hip-Hop-based Crooklyn Clan in 1995. They are responsible for the huge club party anthem “Be Faithful,” featuring Fatman Scoop, which went platinum overseas, and was in the movie “Save the Last Dance.”
In 2011, Rizzo decided to foray into one of his greatest passions, the house/dance music scene, and developed a collaboration effort called SikDuo with his longtime friend Chris Moody. That same year, the duo released Boney M’s “Daddy Cool.”
The Duo had its singles “BIG” and “Boom” in rotation on BPM and Electric Area on Sirius XM satellite radio and have been behind the turntables during its residency at one of Manhattan’s hottest dance venues, Pacha, since 2005.
Though his sporting days are in the rearview mirror, and his music continues to evolve, Rizzo said he holds no regrets.
“I am proud of both things: the sports and the music,” he said. “I have no complaints.”