Although he has been known since the early '90s as DJ Dez, Humberto Hernandez has credited the majority of his gritty downtempo house and equally sample-laced hip-hop productions to alter-ego Andrés.
Hernandez's earliest 12" releases under the alias, dating back to 1997, were so low in profile that some listeners assumed it was the work of Kenny Dixon, Jr. (aka Moodymann), who released it on his KDJ label. Hernandez ended all speculation by putting himself on the front of his self-titled album (2003) for Dixon's Mahogani Music, and has since issued three additional numerically titled Mahogani projects (arriving in 2009, 2011, and 2019), among many shorter-form 12" releases for labels such as Moods & Grooves, Funk Night, and his own La Vida, all based in his adoptive hometown of Detroit.
Hernandez considers himself first and foremost a hip-hop DJ. Thanks to his father, Cuban percussionist Humberto "Nengue" Hernandez, he possessed a drum machine at the age of three and took up percussion himself, but he also taught himself how to scratch and rocked underage parties as a youngster on the West Coast. The Hernandezes moved to Detroit in the late '80s, and throughout the next decade, the younger Hernandez continued to develop his talents while learning from the likes of Amp Fiddler and making connections with many of the city's other artists. He was a member of the rap group Da' Enna C. (who released a Jay Dee-produced single in 1994), was part of the ghettotech collective 12 Tech Mob, and DJ'd for Slum Village and the L.A.-based Ozomatli. Closer to the end of the '90s, supported by Buy-Rite Records co-worker Kenny Dixon, Jr., Hernandez issued his first Andrés recordings. Three 12" releases bearing KDJ catalog numbers were out before the end of 1999.
Andrés gradually became Hernandez's primary name as a producer. Across the next couple decades, as DJ Dez, he released a beat LP and teamed with DJ Butter for the production album A Piece of the Action, but Andrés releases were more common, steadily dispersed as 12" singles and a series of EP- and album-length projects. The self-titled Andrés series began in 2003 by partly reconstituting earlier tracks that, due to short supply and advantageous record flippers, were trading hands at prohibitive prices. A comparatively sprawling and less retrospective sequel -- featuring contributions from Dixon, Fiddler, and fellow Detroiters such as DJ Minx and Monica Blaire -- followed six years later. The concise and more hip-hop-oriented third volume arrived in 2011. The double LP Andrés IV continued the series in 2019 with Hernandez's most eclectic and skillfully integrated set of material yet. ~ Andy Kellman, Rovi