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July 19th, 2009 | By Big Dom

Rhyme & Reason interviews DJ J-Nice mid-flight during his trek from the States to Australia. As tour DJ for everyone from Biggie to Weezy to Shaq, J-Nice knows how to rock a party. And now the ATLien is bringing his party further south than ever before - the Southern Hemisphere - rocking club dates across Sydney and Melbourne over the coming two weeks.
In Hip-Hop, the title of ‘DJ’ has come to represent a rainbow of roles – ranging from the traditional turntablist to the more modern mixtape DJ. Where does DJ J-Nice sit within this spectrum?
I am a party DJ. I used to do tricks but [now] you can only do shows with artist - and even they are taking the DJ out of their shows now. So it sucks. Now it’s just trade shows and contests. [And] mix tapes - are you kidding?! 90% of the DJs that do mixtapes nowadays have never touched turntables in their life. The mixtapes don’t even be mixed; they are a compilation of music, not a mixtape. They have fucked the craft up and people have adapted to it, so it is what it is. Me, as a DJ, I like to rock the crowd. I like when people come to hear me they get their monies worth, it’s like a concert. Yeah, I do tricks but my focus is to make you sweat.
DJs seem to come a-dime-a-dozen nowadays; however, very few actually manage to make a career of it. How did you take DJ-ing from a hobby to a full-time career?
Well, when I started DJ-ing everyone couldn’t be a DJ, you didn’t have the music and we use turntables, not this CD bullshit. Don’t get me wrong, I use CDJs also but I use turntables when the club has them. I took a page from Funkmaster Flex; it’s a business. A DJ has the ability to control peoples’ movements, make them do what you want. So make people want to come hear you, buy your music, buy your t-shirts, etc. Get with a sponsor, endorse their product and push their product for a hefty cheque.
What is your proudest career moment up to this point?
Wow, I have had a lot. When I got the job as Biggie’s party tour DJ that made me feel great to have that gig - official Bad Boy DJ - and that was when Bad Boy was really poppin’. Then Teddy Riley gave me the job to DJ for Queen Pen. Getting the gig to DJ for Shaq, that was incredible. There have been so many things that I’m grateful and thankful for, so I appreciate all my blessings.
Atlanta has a very rich Hip-Hop culture. How would you describe the music scene in your hometown for those of us who haven’t experienced it first hand?
It’s called Black Hollywood. Every Hip-Hop artist, R&B artist, athlete and movie star has a crib in Atlanta, so going to a club any night of the week you will see stars. The music scene speaks for itself; everyone works together and everyone gets along - it’s the southern hospitality. We love to party.
Again, ATL’s Hip-Hop culture is so rich - having produced acts including OutKast, T.I., Jermaine Dupri, Lil Jon and countless others. Who do you anticipate will be the region’s next break-out superstar?
Hmm… that’s hard because Florida is poppin’, Houston is coming back, Los Angeles is coming back… So it’s hard to really say right now. It’s in a transitional state. Actually, London is putting out great artists. I would love to find a hot artist in Australia and get it poppin’. I will see while I’m here what’s really good.
One thing that sets you apart from your colleagues is that you stream your performances online. Do you feel like the DJ world is taking full advantage of digital technology at this point in time?
I really don’t, [but] it would call out a bunch of DJs that are supposed to be hot but really ain’t. And when people find out, it’s too late, they’re already stinking up the club. For real DJs it’s a great opportunity for club owners and promoters in other countries and cities to hear you and see you perform.
This past year saw you travel with Lil Wayne as his tour DJ. What was life like on the road with Wayne at the height of his popularity?
It was ok… not great but not bad. I really didn’t have too much contact with Lil Wayne. I rode on the band bus so it was like we didn’t see him until he took the stage. I saw him at rehearsal and that was it. I’m really into building my own brand now [because] DJ-ing for artists ain’t what it used to be.
Another superstar you have toured with is Shaquille O’Neal – during the 2007/08 NBA season. How does life on the road with a basketball player compare to life on the road with a recording artist?
It doesn’t compare. Shaquille O’Neal is the best person in the world to work for; he is fun, likes music, his parties are nuts and it’s the A-list celebs coming to his events. He makes it about his DJ at his events, not about him. He gave me mad love and I appreciate every time I get the chance to DJ for him. Man, we do parties in every city, every island; we did a party at the Playboy mansion for NBA All-Star Weekend and I was the DJ. Come on, dog, rappers can’t stand next to Shaq.
And how did you come to work with Shaq?
My life has been [about] being in the right place at the right time and always doing my best regardless of how many people are in the club. I was the resident DJ at the world famous Club 112 and his cousin Mark Stevens was there listening to me perform and we started talking about doing events on the road for Shaq. I said “Hell yeah” and the rest is history.
Travelling with the likes of Shaq must have produced some fairly surreal moments. Can you share with us the craziest moment you have witnessed on tour?
Honestly, I cannot answer this question. I signed a confidentiality agreement with Shaquille O’Neal’s company.
You have also worked closely with other athletes including Carmelo Anthony and Floyd Mayweather – both of whom are attempting to make moves into the music industry. How do you feel about the athlete-turned-music executive phenomenon?
Well, the problem with most labels is financing, so with athletes that’s not a problem. Their problem is putting their homeboys and cousins in positions that they have no experience in; the positions of A&R, marketing, getting the music to the right people, etc. That’s what the problem is. But I am helping Floyd with his, so he will be good. Carmelo’s got a great person working with him, so it should be a good look also.
What can audiences expect from you during your Australian tour?
To party hard, sweat and get drunk. We poppin’ bottles and chillin’ with models.
Personally, what are you looking forward to most about this visit to Australia?
To visit the juvenile centre to speak with the kids and let them know there’s a better way than the streets. I love talking to the youth in any country. It’s important to me.
Do you have a message you would like to share with our Australian readers in lieu of your tour?
I really appreciate that I have been given the opportunity to come and party in Australia. I will definitely give them a great show and they will get their monies worth. I’m looking for artists to sign.
For more information on DJ J-Nice visit: - RHYME & REASON MAGAZINE





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