Question: Can you tell me a little about how you got started as a DJ?
I got started as a DJing when I was a freshman at Western Carolina. After my parents brought us over here to American from Beirut, hip hop found me at that age of 8 years old. What happened was it was around ‘84 and that was when hip hop started coming on the TV and since I was moved at that age to this country, I would sit and watch TV all day long. That’s how I learned how to speak English - through watching TV that whole summer. I didn’t go to any English as a second language classes, I just went to normal, just school. I would sit there and watch MTV all day long and got a real big interest in hip hop music.
Then the dude down the street from me, a guy by the name of Dana Lucci - Mixmasta D - who was in a group called The Bizzee Boyz – in the group you had Willski, on that label you had Mark Sparks, Fanatic – so many people, the list goes on and on of real famous hip hop people that were just really producers and great entertainers out of this area with Payroll Records, so hip hop was something major.
I’m telling you that to tell you that it all influenced me and I was real big into hip hop carrying Dana’s records around and all that stuff. When I went to Western Carolina (University), it was a different movement up there. The music wasn’t popular and it wasn’t what I was used to. A guy down the hall from me was like, “yo, man they’re having a radio station meeting of the local radio station – the college station – we should go down and get a show because you have a lot of music” – I used to have all these CDs, just a huge collection of CDs, I was always into mix tapes and kept up with who was doing what, all the hip hop stuff, Yo! MTV Raps and everything else – so I went and got a college radio show.
At first I didn’t want to talk on the mic or anything, I just wanted to play the music. So I played the music – I talked a little bit on the mic – and the response was overwhelming to the show. The callers were just loving the selection. So then I got a college night with two other guys from the radio station and the first night we did a party like 1,000 people showed up. It was crazy. Overnight, I went from absolutely not knowing anyone at Western Carolina to having the main radio show and and being the main DJ. So I kept back and forth with 102 Jamz doing my internship there and basically set my 10 year plan of starting a label and going all the way into the DJ/ personality thing to take it to the next level. It’s like a movie and a dream because so many things worked out where they were supposed to for my ability to get started, and the main thing I attribute it to was when the hip hop scene I was used to was taken away from me and then how everyone else responded to the music. I went to a school that was basically 93% white and everyone loved the music – and this was before you had the whole, “white audience” listening to hip hop music, as far as breaking it down into demographics. This was like ’96 you’re talking about – and I always believed that we could all come together – white, black, Hispanic, Arab, Jew – all together and party because everybody likes to have a good time and that was always what I wanted to do with the music. If people could always party together and hang out together, then everything else in life can be worked out.
So, did you go right from Western Carolina to your job at 102 Jamz?Yeah.
You did your internship there?
Yeah, did my internship and then got hired part time, weekends, overnights. Basically, just worked my way up - any shift they needed to be covered, I would cover. In the meantime, I was in the streets, DJing parties, hosting parties, and going hard – just being real noticed. I worked real hard to try and get into that situation.
What would you tell people to do who didn’t have a chance to do college radio and find an internship to go about getting start, trying to get on the air, and get attention?
The number one thing is making people around you believe in what you’re doing. The second thing is to get your craft to the point where it needs to be because if you’re going to go out and DJ parties, then you’d better have the best selection and you’d better be able to match them beats and make sure your pitch is right on and you saying the right thing to the crowd to make them react positive instead of negative.
When you create that type of hype and create that type of believing in you and you rock – and work harder than the next man. Get yourself a ten year plan. Today I might be carrying the DJs records, tomorrow I might buy my turntables, then I might put out my first mix tape, and then I might do my first party, now I’m doing my 10th party, and now I’m getting booked at a certain rate and I’m giving the people what I want, and then I’m creating such a hype about what I do and creating such a hype about my trade and my show that radio has to come get me – because I’m on every commercial, because my tapes are in every stores and you just can’t get away from me. That’s the attitude you’ve got to have – a real persistent attitude.