Ever since he discovered hip-hop back in the early 1980s, after watching movies like Beat Street and Breakin’, Paal “DJ Big Paulie” Handing has been an avid fan of the music and the culture. He took break-dancing lessons (as did everybody else in the mid-80s), and he started buying all the hip-hop he could find and/or afford on cassettes and vinyl.
As there was a huge lack of hip-hop DJ’s in his hometown of Bergen, Norway, Big Paulie decided to take matters into his own hands, literally, when he bought his first set of Technics 1210s in the summer of 1994. Being fortunate enough to have connections on the club scene, he started getting gigs right away, plus he would travel to New York at least twice a year, where he would pick up mixtapes and listen to Hot 97 (back when Hot 97 still were on point). In the Big Apple, he got a chance to check out DJ’s like Funkmaster Flex, Stretch Armstrong, Mister Cee and DJ Skribble, and they all inspired him to become one of the first truly New York-influenced Norwegian DJ’s. He introduced Bergen and Oslo to his own unique blend of hip-hop, R&B, soul, funk and dancehall, through his many different club nights, like New York State Of Mind, Rowdy Rowdy, Boom Box, Stay Fly and 3 Kings.
Big Paulie also ran a hip-hop record store for more than 10 years, helping build a hip-hop community in Norway’s capitol, Oslo, and he also did his share of artist bookings (Rahzel The Godfather Of Noyze, Mad Skillz, Alkaholiks, Arsonists, Peanut Butter Wolf). In the spring of 1999, DJ Big Paulie got a chance to open up for none other than Lauryn Hill, in front of 8,500 people. This was a career high for him (and it still is), and in fact, he did such a great job that Ms. Hill wanted to meet him and thank him personally.
Later on that same evening, as it turns out, the booking agent had tried to call Paulie’s cell phone. Lauryn Hill wanted him to join her as an opening act for her European tour! Unfortunately, Paulie never got that phone call. He was at an after-party where there was no cell phone service. Talk about a bummer! Well, since then, he’s had the opportunity to open up for other superstars, like Destiny’s Child, The Fugees, Eminem, The Game, Common, John Legend and The Roots, and he has also DJ-ed alongside Grandmaster Flash, Questlove, A-Trak, DJ Premier and DMC champion DJ Noize.