How did you get started? Tell us your story!
I was born in Georgia at Northside Hospital, but my mom moved us to Brooklyn when I was maybe a year old. Most of my family lives up north, so that's where I got my "northern knowledge" from. We moved back to Georgia when I was about 7, so I don't really consider myself a New Yorker anymore, I've been living down south or too long. My accent comes back out on rare occasions though. I've always been a music fanatic, even as a kid. I grew up listening to a bunch of genres, thanks to my mom. She would play everything from Alicia Keys to The S.O.S. Band. Early on, I got a pretty good helping of R&B, Gospel, and Old School, but as I got older, I started to develop my own musical taste. I got more involved in Hip Hop and even went through an EDM/Dubstep phase during my middle school years. Somewhere along the line, I discovered Lecrae, and I took a diversion into the Christian Hip Hop realm for a good bit of high school.
My interests led me to look for more underground artists, and eventually, I ended up migrating to Soundcloud for a lot of my music. When I was a kid, I loved to read. I would read 300-page books in a couple of days, staying up late at night with a flashlight to read under my covers. Somewhere along the way, I picked up poetry. I remember winning this school-wide poetry competition we had for Red Ribbon week back in elementary school. I guess that's when I learned a was pretty decent at putting words together. In middle school, I started rapping, partly for fun, and partly to cope with life at the time. I used to get in a lot of trouble in middle school. I wasn't a bad kid, I just used to get in trouble for little stuff all the time. I was smart, but for whatever reason, I'd always end up missing assignments or getting in trouble for talking too much, or whatever. My parents used to say it was just a product of me finishing my work early and being bored.
Right before I got to high school, I stumbled upon some turntables my stepdad had in the home studio at the time. I remember one of the first things he told me was to " not be a button pusher... learn the basics." So, I did. I would spend hours practicing scratching, blending, and beat juggling. That proved to be the foundation for the way I DJ now. Through high school, I juggled a couple of musical hats as a producer, rapper, DJ, and engineer.
I spent a lot of time working with two of my friends (who formed the other two-thirds of 3LVCKOUT), and sort of became the house producer and engineer. It wasn't until around freshman year of college that I really decided to focus more on being a DJ. That year, I joined an organization by the name of Panther Entertainment Group and had auditioned to be a Certified Entertainer. CE's were basically the people on the front line that got to perform during shows. When I had originally auditioned, I had done so as an artist. Unfortunately, I didn't make it... I had the product; I just didn't have the performance. At the time, people who scored a certain amount of points were permitted to attend the CE rehearsals to watch learn, grow, and ultimately re-audition. During those rehearsals is where I got my shot. I found out that PEG needed a DJ to help run shows so one day I brought my board. Pres, who was the head of PEG at the time, basically told me all I needed to do to audition to be a DJ was play songs that fit the energy between artists' sets. So, I did that. Long story short, I've been the house DJ ever since. That was in 2016. Since then I've done countless shows and events for the org, and many other clients. Somewhere along the line, I got the attention of the other entertainment org at GSU, Spotlight. I started doing a bunch of events for them, one of which included the Panther Palooza, an annual concert that is hosted every spring, bringing it big-name artists. That was when I had the opportunity to open for 6lack and DJ Tonee.
What is your experience in the music industry? Do you have any formal training or schooling?
If not, are you self-taught and how did you learn your craft? What is your learning style? What are your favorite educational resources (ex. college, YouTube, etc.)? The only formal training I've gotten for music was from Pebblebrook. I was in the performing arts program, so I learned how all about scales, sight-reading, etc. That played a part in my production and DJ skills, but as far as actual production or DJ training, I'm self-taught. In my experience, the best teachers are trial, error, and YouTube.
What makes you decide to play a particular record during one of your sets? Is there a criterion other than pure subjectivity, for selecting what to play at a gig?
When I go into a set, 9 times out of 10 it's a freestyle. I don't think I've ever formally put together a set. I may throw together a list of songs I might play, but even with that, I select songs in the moment. I think that it's better that way because you never know where a set (or crowd) may take you. I've been to gigs where I've prepared a "set", and I got there, and the crowd was on a totally different vibe. You just got to be able to go with the flow.
Who are your biggest influences growing up and why? Who do you like to listen to now and why? Who’s on your playlist right now?
I had so many! Eminem, J Cole, Big Sean, Lecrae, Andy Mineo, Aha Gazelle, Kaleb Mitchell, Drake... I'd say they probably had the biggest impact on me, each for different reasons. Eminem inspired my early rap style. Cole showed opened me up to a different kind of rap. Lecrae put me on to CHH. Aha Gazelle helped get me through high school. Kaleb Mitchell showed me that you can make it if you work hard enough. Drake showed me what it takes to stay relevant... diversity. As a DJ, I listen to so much music, it's hard to have a favorite. However, I can recognize good music when I hear it. Some of my most recent picks: Childish Gambino, Aha Gazelle, Lil Baby, Sebastian Paul, and DaBaby. It really depends on my mood.
What are some of the biggest obstacles you’ve encountered or faced in this industry? What are currently your main challenges as a DJ? What is it about DJing, compared to, say, producing your own music, that makes it interesting for you?
I think my biggest challenge is engagement, marketing. When there are so many people trying to do the same thing you’re doing, you have to fight to keep your audience engaged. One of the things I'm constantly working on is building a real following, and by that, I mean having people who repeatedly engage, come out to shows, click the links, etc. Having people that really support you is key because you need that support if you're going to make it. That support is even more crucial now because at the moment social media is all we have. People are not throwing events because we're all stuck inside, so your social media presence is your livelihood.
How would you describe your sound and style?
Free-flowing. I play a bit of everything, including Hip Hop, R&B, Pop, and International music. New school or old school. That's just what I like. I feel like as a DJ, the moment you stop playing what you like is the moment it becomes a job, and not a career.
What are some of your goals this year?
First of all, I want to find the right artist and go on tour (after being stuck in the house for over a month, I need to travel). Aside from that, one of my biggest goals is to get a residency (a venue that I DJ at regularly). By the end of this year, I want to be able to bring out 100 people to an event. Consistently.
Who are the top 3 artists, producers, engineers, videographers, or others you would want to work with that you haven’t worked with yet?
YBN Cordae, Kaleb Mitchell, Aha Gazelle. I feel like we'd work well together. Plus, they're dope artists. Oh, and BEAM.
What is your creative process like?
Honestly, I just have to get in a vibe. I've got about 5 colored LED lights in my room (I'm really into colors for some reason), and that's where I do most of my creating. A lot of it just comes through chance. When I'm producing, I just play something until it sounds right, unless I'm going in with an idea. When I'm DJ'ing, I spend a lot of my time updating and organizing my library. Sometimes, I'll get distracted by a track, and that's where the magic happens.
What’s your favorite go-to order?
Bro... BBQ, beef, and pineapple pizza. If you're feeling healthy, sub the beef for chicken. If you're really healthy, take off the meat altogether. Only from Dominoes or Pizza Hut. I can't tell you how many times my bros and I have ordered that while we're cooking up. Magnifico.