“I love DJing but I am not a DJ.”
There’s quite a few of you puzzled by that “I am not a DJ” part of the phrase. You’ve heard my podcasts. You come to some of my parties. You listen to my radio shows. You’ve seen me on UStream. I’ve made mixtapes and mix CDs for some of you. Behind the turntables, scratching, mixing, talking (some say “too much”), joking, commenting, etc. So how the hell am I not a DJ?
Let me preface:
I am a son. I am someone’s father. I am someone’s brother. I am someone’s boyfriend. I am someone’s cousin. I am someone’s godfather. I am someone’s best friend. I am someone’s nephew. I am an IT Professional. I am a Project Manager. I am a Business Analyst. I am a martial artist.
“THEN I am a DJ.”
I love DJing and I think I’ve grown to be pretty good at it over the past 22 years but when I’m introduced to someone, I don’t think I would want to be introduced as a DJ above all of the aforementioned things I can be identified as.
I love making people go “Ooooooh” when I throw certain songs on that make them feel some type of way. I love playing that custom drop “He’s got a lotta damn records, it’s DaManDL” because I have prided myself on the uniqueness, the voracity, the meticulousness, the research and everything else associated with the days, weeks, months, years and decades it has taken for me to amass my library. Anyone can download mp3 files. A real DJ takes pride and great protection in the build of his or her library over time. I still buy vinyl to this day – and I read linear notes!
As much pride and passion, and most importantly…FUN…as I have in the DJ part of my life, I never ever wanted that to define who I was. I never wanted to rely on DJing to put food on my table, to pay for my daughter’s clothes, braces, and college tuition. I never wanted to have up to 5 or 6 parties to play every week. It wasn’t as important for me to know big names or do all these wonderful glamorous things in the DJ world. DJing is a hell of a grind (with an infinite amount of politics and ego meshed in)!! But with that being said, in my 22 years…my 22 PROFESSIONAL years (if we want to speak generally, I can say I first started playing records at parties back in the late 70s and early 80s)…I’ve had a share of some proud moments – “swag” moments, if you will. I’ve been on Video Music Box in the mid-90s. I’ve spun live in the presence of legends like the Kool DJ Red Alert, Force MDs & the Fearless Four. I’ve graced the comedy stages with the likes of Tracy Morgan & Talent. I’ve produced radio shows and podcasts that have been heard in Asia, Africa and Europe. I can count a few known personalities in the radio and entertainment world as true supporters who reach out to me. I’ve done online radio shows, very recently, to audiences well over 700, 800 and 900 listeners. I’ve started my own online radio station. And I’ve worked with or been in the presence of some incredibly talented DJs and MCs.
“I love DJing but I’m not JUST a DJ.”
Before the summer officially turns to fall this year, I will have turned 40 years old. 40! While that’s certainly not a death sentence, I seriously have to take a look at things and come to the realization that for someone not wanting to be a “career DJ”, I surely do spend a helluva lot of time doing it, or preparing for one of my 3 or 4 radio shows a week. Or preparing to DJ at a bar or lounge or club on the weekends. I love DJing but having the ability to live a certain quality of life is of utmost importance to me.
For the past couple of years, I’ve had to suffer the indignity of the socio-economic politics of Corporate America when I was told that my position at the NBA was being eliminated. While I have since become employed once again, the scars left behind still have an effect on my professional career. I’m rather unhappy at my current position – forced to deal with the instability of being a consultant, knowing that any week can wind up being my last week on that assignment. Dealing with not having the paid time-off for being sick, or tending to family matters, or wanting to take vacation. Dealing with not having health insurance/benefits. Dealing with having to accept a pay cut and an organizational demotion/downgrade just to be employed. Dealing with puzzling rejection after rejection and unreturned call and email after unreturned call and email in my current job search. Knowing that the only way to reverse this cycle is to get in front of it with intense re-education, studying and professional certification, I can’t spend as much time doing all these shows and parties and keeping up with schedules that don’t allow me to focus on what’s more important.
My daughter will be starting her freshman year at St. John’s University in Queens at the same time I’ll be turning 40. As a single father, I need to be as present and focused and undistracted as possible during her transition.
As the son of parents who are in the throws of retirement age, I need to be more active in their lives. There’s still plenty of wisdom and advice I can draw from them, despite being a grown man and a parent myself.
As a boyfriend, although we are both DJs, time spent behind the DJ booth isn’t exactly my idea of “quality relationship time.”
So while parts of this sounds and feels like a resignation letter, it truly isn’t…well…..not entirely.
I am going to be stepping down, effective ASAP from being as active on the DJ scene, online and live. That’s not to say you will never see me tearing down a party or you’ll never hear another podcast from me or never catch me on online radio…you’ll just find me much less frequently. But when the itch hits and I need to scratch…best believe I’m sending out an invite for sure!! I’m still available for hire though!!
I would be remiss if I didn’t thank each and every single one of you whether you’ve been an observer, critic or supporter of my DJ journey for all of the past 22 years or just a small portion of it. Any DJ will tell you that without you, we have no purpose. We play because we love the music – but quite honestly, we can enjoy our music in the privacy of our headphones, our dens, our living rooms, etc. We play because you enjoy it with us.
Without getting too..too granular, I really do feel the need in my heart to thank specifically the following individuals for the roles you have played in this journey (in no special order): my sister, my parents, my aunts and uncles for allowing me to stand on a chair and play at the house parties, DJ Parallel/Chris Robinson (Around The Way Productions from ’91 to Infinty), St. John’s University Classes of ’93, ’94, ’95 and ’96 specifically, my 228th Street Family, Roland (R.I.P.), Erika, Kimmy, Lisa, Latrice (aka, the “other Pooh”), Simone, the Ruxpin Entertainment team: Sammy, Ted & Lonnice, the Global1Fm and Only1FM crews, DJ Mark McAden, DJ N Da Bag, OlSkoolDJ, Lilly, the DJ Lab mixmasters: DJ Lux, Brian B, JK Rich, my Black Voices family: way too many of y’all to name so I won’t try for fear of getting cut later but please know you guys have a been a HUGE, HUGE battery in my back!!, Kool Mike Ski, Steve, Rory and the whole Ski Team, Bleufuzz, Koko (“Kermiiiiii”), QueensMoe , MelloEd, Track King Cole, Kamal, Mari Like Atari and the rest of the 107.3 WKCR firm, my Sikmixx brothers and sisters: DJ Fish, Danny Dee, Crazy Ed, O.Minaya, Pens N Needles, YoungOne, Manolo, Shorty Love, Ms Chu, Koollaid, G Rock, Odell, YaggyrlR, KimC, cboggie, rysinister, Kandie, Janeeka, Ms. Melody, and the whole chat room, B-Fats, Devastating Tito (see you on June 22nd at Team Fearless Honors!), the Force MDs, Kid Capri, Kesha Monk, Troy Smith, Lovebug Starski, Mike Stein (R.I.P. Vudu Lounge), DJ Showbiz (R.I.P. Nell’s and E’Toile), Burt Smooth, DJ Holiday, Amadore, Carol, Jimmy and the whole 174thand Southern Blvd Crew at Shine & Carol’s for giving me my first real residency back in ‘95/’96..and lastly but certainly not leastly: my uber-talented daughter Destini and my equally talented First Lady of the Turntables, DJ Diva Lin.
“I am a DJ, always will be a DJ…… but I am many other things first and foremost.”