October DJ of the Month:
WDCE 90.1FM Richmond
Tell us about WDCE. How it got started and how it’s used by the University of Richmond.
WDCE has been around since 1960 and is still to this day student run. Our footprint has been one of student involvement and community engagement, both through events and via our non-student DJs, and has also been an important step for many students seeking careers in communications. I must also add that radio is often perceived as an impenetrable, esoteric realm and because of our accessibility we have played a part in the demystification of what and how a broadcast entity truly works. I cannot understate how valuable infrastructure has been and that because of long term board members like Tim, Marielle, and Herb as well as our community member DJ’s who have dedicated countless hours of their own time year round to keep us going, WDCE is still not only up and running but continuing to grow.
How long have you been at WDCE? How did you first hear about it & what is your history there?
I’m bad with dates so I would have to say somewhere near 8-10 years, which is a surprise to me since I have never really considered it. I always try to stay present in the moment and locked in on envisioning my future. I first got involved with WDCE when I was a guest on The Liquid Lounge, hosted by Kevin Klapperich, to talk about one of my other great passions: video games. He said I was really well spoken and should apply for a show there so I did.
I was raised under the principle that if something you need doesn’t exist you create it yourself, comfort is the enemy of progress and honestly the mainstream radio stations were not trying to let me or any other artists in. So after a few emails, inquiries, and training Hip-Hop 101 was on the air! I wanted to give people a unique broadcast that didn’t just play music by artists and the popular songs we all know about mixed in traditional context. I took records, B-sides and otherwise lesser known songs, and cleaned them myself. Then, being an artist myself, I started collecting records from Richmond’s own Hip-Hop community and independent artists abroad and hand cleaning those as well and putting them in rotation. I also invited artists to come to the studio to freestyle live on air with me and my guys and have continued to utilize my show as a platform to build relationships in the music industry.
Your bio says that along with being WDCE’s Hip Hop director & show host, you are also an MC, promoter and teacher. What role has given you the most satisfaction over the years?
I did a Ted Talk, and that really put things into perspective for me. I live a crazy lifestyle and I am so fortunate. I started out broke and on food stamps. I’ve released 20 albums myself and am working on a roll out for the next one. I have my own Independent Hip-Hop event series at Strange Matter called Face Melt Friday, which now with 42 events is one of the longest running showcase series in the history of Richmond’s Hip-Hop culture and is one of the things I am most proud of.
Before being multi-platinum and Grammy nominated, DRAM’s first shows in Richmond were Face Melt Friday’s and there are so many other artists who have seen that its more than just a showcase bill, its a community. I also am co-owner of the T-Shirt brand Richmond Is For Haters and of course am continuing to teach my Hip-Hop Creative Writing Curriculum and speak at private schools, public schools, juvenile detention centers and universities. It really comes down to providing opportunities and sharing success with others. When I win, we win, whether it be on air, on stage, in a classroom or in front of a podium. As I have followed what has been calling and compelled me for all these years, my principles are my compass and I was raised to believe that success is meant to be shared…otherwise what’s the point?
What is your favorite album of 2018 so far?
While I’m really looking forward to Atmosphere’s new album Virgo, I would say right now my top album of 2018 is Evidence’s Weather Or Not. He got me with that record “Throw It All Away,” I could really relate. The consistency, both lyrically and production wise of that album is what made it such a cohesive release. Evidence also went through a lot this year personally and the fact that he still pulled it off and kept moving forward is a testament to his strength, integrity, and authenticity which inspired me to keep working no matter what. Go listen to it.
Do you have a favorite artist or album you never get tired of listening to?
Danny Brown “Atrocity Exhibition,” DMX “Itz Dark And Hell Iz Hot,” Atmosphere “Southsiders,” and Marilyn Manson “Antichrist Superstar.” All four, any day, every day. They speak to me on so many levels.
What is the best live show you have ever attended? Or performed yourself?
Without a doubt Rhymesayer’s Soundset. Ironically, Atmosphere became aware of me because of my WDCE show and I ended up going to Soundset as a guest. I came back the next year to cover it for RVAMAG because its such a testament to hard work paying off. They started from nothing and have created what is the largest Hip-Hop Festival in the world, where people come together with a positive attitude and celebrate all types of Hip-Hop. 2 years and a ridiculous amount of work after that article I came back and actually played Soundset myself! To this day one of the greatest experiences of my life. I love Minnesota, I love Rhymesayers. They are the gold standard.
Who is an artist or band outside the realm of Hip Hop that people might be surprised to know you love?
Fiona Apple. She takes the cost of loss and turns it into value. She takes the vulnerability of being in love, the apathy of being betrayed, the fear of being exposed, and the beauty of pain and turns it into something more than just “a record.”
What is your favorite childhood memory?
I grew up in hotels. A lot of hood hotels. My father followed telecommunications work literally across the country which means we rarely lived anywhere long for a decent portion of my childhood. One Christmas eve, my brother and I decided to be jerks so we got “a whipping.” My brother cried, I laughed. It was kind of the end of my childhood because I realized my parents are just people who are still trying to figure life out and it also made me realize how much I appreciated my brother, Jimi….aka James. Our differences created so many opportunities for learning and growth, even back then, and he’s put me onto so much game my entire life.
What event/or individual in your life would you say shaped you the most as a person?
As an adult I watched my father, the hardest working man I have ever known, be convicted of First Degree Murder and sentenced to life in prison. To this day he maintains his innocence. That moment made me work even harder to tell my story through music and any other medium. Its for and through him and my friends who have passed that I work as hard as I do and push beyond any limits I may encounter within myself because I have seen first hand that this world pulls no punches.
If you could choose, what time period in the past would you most want to travel back to and visit and why?
No matter when or where if there’s people there are problems. I’d rather use this time I have now to have a positive impact through inspiration on as many people as possible to make an even better tomorrow for those being born today. Everything born has to die, but when we inspire others to keep searching and keep learning we live forever and time is no longer the enemy.
Do you have a favorite restaurant in Richmond you always make sure to take guests/visitors to?
Despite Richmond being a place with incredible foodie options I am not a big food person. I do like coffee however, so usually I have meetings with people at Crossroads on the Southside of Richmond. Its a cool environment, whether indoors or outdoors, and the refills are free. I’ve found it to be an ironic name for the location as every time I meet someone there I find myself at a crossroads.
What’s the best advice anyone has ever given you?
What you have to offer will always be more valuable than what you have to gain.
Dog or Cat? Both love unconditionally, but since I currently have 3 kitty thugs, cats.
Cold drinks or hot ones? Coffee should be hot, otherwise all that matters is hydration.
Morning Person or Night Owl? The morning is only good if you stayed up all night to get there.
City or Country? Depends who is driving.
Watch TV or Read A Book? Workout, then read when you finish.
Winter or Summer? Progress is a year round thing.
Dine or Delivery? Coffee.
Fly or drive? Whatever it takes.
Pants or Shorts? Pants. I don’t take shorts.
Do you have any current favorite TV show obsessions? What is the best movie you’ve seen so far in 2018?
In regards to TV I would sadly have to say Power, before that it was Days Of Our Lives. Its so bad, like really bad…but that’s why I love it. Ozark, The Sinner, The Punisher, they were all so good but Power was just too hilarious…and of course Ghost Adventures. You gotta watch Ghost Adventures. I typically workout to TV so its cool to have something you can enjoy without having to stare at. As for a movie……Avengers Infinity War was a corporate masterpiece and A Quiet Place was an incredible surprise. My top movies of all time however remain The Devil’s Advocate and Cannibal Holocaust.
Finally, and most importantly: If you went trick-or-treating as a kid, what was your favorite costume you wore?
I somehow managed as a kid to spend a lot of Halloweens sick but I did once dress up as a Vampire. I also worked back in the day at a Party City during Halloween season (its their Christmas basically) and dressed up every day as a Preacher. With that being said, one felt like a costume and the other one didn’t, I’ll let you consider which.