Today, we begin on a two-part interview with one of the biggest DJs in the area. When she speaks, her words, tweets, etc., they carry weight. And when she spins, she puts it down in a way that, in some ways, reminds me of the late great K-Swift. I'm talking about DJ Heat, DJ, activist, and more. Part one of this interview will focus mainly on her DJ roots, some DJ do's and dont's, "dumb rappers," and her decision to end her long-running site, DCMumboSauce.com. Part two (tomorrow) will focus on the DMV music scene, major artists with underground sensibilities, artists relishing in drugs and drug rap, and more.
Artists get so worked up in trying to perform, that they neglect the knowledge that can be gained at these events. Sit down and listen sometimes. You don’t have to be jumping on a stage yelling in a mic all the time.
SOTB!!!: Who inspired/inspires you to get out there and mix it up (sorry, I told you…I’m corny)?
DJ Heat: (Laughs) Nothing wrong with being corny. I was surprisingly inspired by the Wreckx-N-Effect remix for “Rump Shaker.” There was a part near the end of the remix that featured a DJ scratching, and I would mimic it. It played on the radio so much because of course it was a big summer song and I would get so excited when it got to the DJ part of the song. That’s what sparked my interest in DJing, and a few months later I bought my first set of DJ equipment when I was thirteen-years-old.
SOTB!!!: Did you ever have any contact with K-Swift? If so, what was that like? I ask since, being from Baltimore and influenced by Swift myself, she holds a special place for me.
Heat: I unfortunately never got a chance to meet the great K-Swift, which I am sad that I didn’t because we shared a lot of the same circles. I know so many people that hung out with her, but, for whatever reason, our paths never got to cross. It would’ve been a great honor for me to meet the DJ that had such a huge influence on her city.
I went to college at Morgan State University in Baltimore, and her mix tapes were always bumped by just about everyone in the city. The love that Baltimore had for her was so real. I tried to attend her funeral services, but so many people came out that they couldn’t let any more people in. I still stayed outside and watched as everyone followed the horse and carriage that carried her through the city. The love out there was amazing. I hadn't seen anything like that since the Notorious B.I.G.’s funeral.
SOTB!!!: Do you think that the DJ game is making more progress when compared to rappers and the like when it comes to diversity? If not, what are some things that could/should be done?
Heat: I would say “yes” and “no,” and that all boils down to technology. With the progress that technology as made with DJ equipment, be it controllers, add-ons, etc., it has diversified what us as DJs can do with our sets. But on the flip side, it has brought in an influx of newcomers that are quick to call themselves DJs and have no knowledge and skill of the basic fundamentals.
For example, I DJed an event where other younger DJs didn’t know how to use Technics 1200s, which is EVERY single DJ should know how to use, nor did those DJs have the basic Serato program to try and use it. And recently I went to an event where I heard a new DJ that couldn’t mix his way out of some cake batter. These newcomers are jumping in on the DJ technology, but are hurting themselves by letting the technology run them instead of knowing the basics fundamentals of DJing.
|DJ Heat during one of her many DJ Friday spots on Fox 5 in DC|
SOTB!!!: Who are some DJs in the area—and beyond—people should be on the lookout for?
Heat: Kerim the DJ is a dope one to look out for. I’ve seen him in a number of DJ competitions, and he is very creative with his sets. Highly entertaining. It’s always a treat to listen to his sets.
SOTB!!!: What’s your favorite venue to play at?
Heat: Opera Lounge is my favorite place in the area to spin. I love venues that you can tell actually put focus into their sound system. I love the DJ booth area, the lighting, and they even have a nice crew who is knowledgeable. I’ve been to venues in this area where you can tell they didn’t put any care into the DJ equipment or sound system and I think that is very disrespectful. The music and DJ is what is going to keep your venue pumping, yet you skimp on that. How rude (laughs).
SOTB!!!: Breaking out the Stephanie Tanner, I see. But, uh, what’s worse: getting yelled at in the club by someone asking to play a song that’d kill the vibe instantaneously or someone hitting you up on Twitter, asking to check out a new track, with the same tweet format as their last 50 tweets?
Heat: Definitely someone in the club is worse. With Twitter I can just hit the block button. But in the club I have to try and get the bamma out my face or explain things to them that they don’t care about, thus messing up my vibe as well. I wish that real life had a block button like on Twitter.
SOTB!!!: Do you want to eventually do more hosting on radio or are you more comfortable doing the mixing and dropping knowledge as-needed?
Heat: I will be perfectly fine if I never do commercial radio ever again. My interests are growing and expanding. I started on commercial radio as an intern when I was 19, 20. I’ll be 36 this year. People change. Even with music my interests are changing. Just life in general is changing for me. I wouldn’t say I’m comfortable with DJing and dropping knowledge, because to me “comfort” means being satisfied with something. I am not satisfied with where I am right now. I want more out of life, and I plan on getting it.
|DJ Heat at the Women in Entertainment Panel at Morgan State University,|
Baltimore (photo credit: Instagram.com/djheatdc)
SOTB!!!: So, switching gears, since you did run DCMumboSauce and are heavily involved with Dumb Rappers Need Teaching, why didn’t you pick a successor to run DCMumboSauce? I know that DRNT is, in some ways, a full-on successor to the DCMS way, but when you first closed shop, it was kind of shocking for me.
Heat: I am a Virgo, and we are the type of people who like doing everything ourselves.
SOTB!!!: True. I’m right on the Leo/Virgo cusp, so I know. Well.
Heat: If I can’t run DCMumboSauce, then no one else can. People offered to do so when I said I was shutting it down, but I flat out said “No.” I believe in having full creative control of my own brand. And, I just felt it was time for the site to end.
I had no interest in running it any more. It had nothing to do with the music I was receiving or the quality of music, I was just over it. And since it’s my own site and I have no one to answer to, I was able to chunk up the deuce to it. Again, I’m growing and my interests are changing. I ran that site for 7 years, starting in 2007. I was 28 when I started and 35 now. The 28-year-old me is not the same as the 35-year-old me. If I’m able to start new chapters in my life by closing old ones and I don’t have to answer to anyone at all by doing so, I’m going to do it. And that’s what I did by shutting down the site.
SOTB!!!: Staying on the topic of dumb rappers needing teaching, what classifies as a “dumb rapper?”
Heat: A “dumb rapper” is a rapper who is not knowledgable about the business they choose to partake in. They forget that the real key work of this music business is “BUSINESS.” Who goes into business without learning about it? No one but rappers, it seems. I try my best to change that.
SOTB!!!: Why do you think there are so many “dumb rappers?”
Heat: Because no one takes the time to learn and read about the business. People think you just rap and that’s it. Or they don’t do something as simple as research people to find out if they are who they really say they are. It’s so many people running around this city [DC] lying about who they are affiliated with. A simple Google search would prove that they are frauds. But no, artists take people’s word as face value. You can’t do that in this business or any business. Learn more about anything that you are involved in.
SOTB!!!: Is it up to the rappers to seek out ways to get educated or is it up to those in the know to provide education in the first place? Because there’s kind of a mix of wildness and weirdness for everyone involved. That’s part of the reason I did those “roundtables” a couple weeks back (Ed. Note: Shoutout to Rizzo, Nikki Siixx, Al Shipley, and Quinelle “Q” Holder for helping out with those).
Heat: I think it is totally up to the rappers to seek out the education. Especially in this day and age when it’s too easy because we have the Internet. And we still have bookstores as well. What boggles my mind is why people don’t feel the need to want to learn more about the industry they’re in.
When I first knew I wanted to be a DJ and also a radio personality, I took the time to learn about it even before I bought my first set of turntables or went to college for radio. Even now as my interests leans more seriously into blogging and camera work, I take the time to study and read about that. You can’t get anywhere in any field without knowledge. And if you do, then you’re going to end up getting jerked like so many artists do.
SOTB!!!: Where can rappers, “dumb” and otherwise, go to get some of this knowledge? And how should they go about seeking it, since, y’know, Twitter can’t solve all the world’s problems?
Heat: Again, the Internet is the hugest resource in the world. You can literally find anything you want to learn on there—for free! I didn’t know where to change the headlight on my car, and I looked it up on the Internet and there was a step-by-step how to video on how to change my headlight. If I can find that, then any artist can find all that they need to know. Also, there are so many events and conference across the country.
Here, in DC we had the amazing Made in the DMV conference and so many major players were there sharing a wealth of knowledge. I’m a member of the Core DJs, and we have a conference twice a year that includes many panels with industry insiders on them dropping jewels.And it’s so many more events out there. People forget that events like SXSW and A3C have panels.