DJ EPIDEMIK

BROOKLYN, NEW YORK | DJ EPIDEMIK

BROOKLYN, NEW YORK | DJ EPIDEMIK

INTERVIEW: TERRELL “REALIFE” BLACK

VALIDATED: WHAT'S YOUR EARLIEST MEMORY OF HIP-HOP, THE CULTURE?

DJ EPIDEMIK: MY EARLIEST MEMORY OF HIP HOP IS THE MOVIE "BEAT STREET." OUTSIDE OF THE MUSICAL INSPIRATION FROM MY DAD. NO ONE IN MY FAMILY PLAYED AN INSTRUMENT, BUT HE PUT ME ON TO A LOT OF HISTORY OF THE HIP HOP CULTURE. "BEAT STREET" WAS A BIG INFLUENCE ON ME WHICH GOT ME INTO ART AND DANCE AND EVEN POETRY AND WRITING RAPS.

 

VALIDATED: BEING FROM BROOKLYN, HOW HAS IT INFLUENCED YOUR EAR FOR MUSIC AND OUTLOOK ON HIP-HOP?

DJ EPIDEMIK: I GREW UP IN BROOKLYN WITH A HEAVY CARIBBEAN INFLUENCE. I WAS INFLUENCED BY RECORDS LIKE "BROOKLYN’S FINEST" BY JAY-Z, AND ARTIST LIKE FABOLOUS, BIGGIE, AND EVEN SHYNE. I WAS ALSO BIG ON DANCEHALL INFUSED HIP HOP TRACKS LIKE MAD LION "TAKE IT EASY," AND FUNKMASTER FLEX "SIX MILLION WAYS TO DIE." THE STYLE AND HOW PEOPLE CARRIED THE CULTURE CREATED THE FOUNDATION OF WHAT THE HIP HOP CULTURE WAS AND SUPPOSED TO BE.

 

VALIDATED: WE HEAR YOUR FATHER WAS ALSO INVOLVED IN MUSIC, HOW WAS IT HAVING YOUR DAD IN THE INDUSTRY YOU WERE PERUSING. HAS HE CONTRIBUTED TO YOUR JOURNEY? IF SO, HOW SO?

DJ EPIDEMIK: MY DAD WAS A GREAT INFLUENCE. HE GOT ME MY FIRST DJ CONTROLLER AND I DJ’ED ‘TIL THE SUN CAME UP ONLINE ON A WEBSITE CALLED TINYCHAT. WHEN I WAS YOUNGER HE HAD A LABEL CALLED "MAJOR RECORDS" AND SIGNED A REGGAE ARTIST. I WAS IN THE STUDIO WITH HIM A LOT. HE DID PROMOTIONS AND GRAPHICS FOR WENDY WILLIAMS, AND I WOULD GO WITH HIM TO DO PROMOTIONAL. WHEN I WAS READY TO DABBLE IN THE INDUSTRY WE BOTH MANAGE ARTIST TOGETHER. HE NOW MANAGES ME WITH GIGI HARVILLE UNDER THE COMPANY "THE PAUL HARVILLE GROUP". HE HELPED ME OUT A LOT FROM THE INTERVIEWS I DID WITHIN THE HIP HOP CULTURE FOR COLLEGE.

 

VALIDATED: AS A TEENAGER YOU CREATED "RAPPIN LOUNGE RADIO", ONE OF THE FIRST ONLINE RADIO STATIONS. WHAT MOTIVATED YOU TO CREATE THE PLATFORM?

DJ EPIDEMIK: RAPPIN LOUNGE HAS A LOT OF HISTORY. IT STARTED OUT AS JUST A WEBSITE TO PROMOTE GOOD MUSIC. IT WAS CREATED DURING THE TIME WHEN MUSIC STARTED TO CHANGE. I BELIEVE AT THE TIME THE LABELS WERE BEING BOUGHT UP BY CORPORATIONS I FELT HAD NO BUSINESS BUYING INTO LABELS. A&R’S WENT FROM MUSICIANS TO PEOPLE WITH BUSINESS DEGREES. IT BECAME MORE OF A BUSINESS AND THE INDUSTRY FORGOT ABOUT THE MUSIC. WHEN I WAS IN HIGH SCHOOL I LISTENED TO COMMON, ERYKAH BADU, GOAPELE, AND MORE. MAINSTREAM MUSIC LOST IT’S SOUL SO RAPPIN LOUNGE WAS A FORUM TO BRING THE SOUL BACK. RAPPIN LOUNGE WAS A PLATFORM FOR RAPPERS, AND SINCE WE HAD THE INTERNET WE WROTE OUR RAPS AND BATTLED EACH OTHER ON THE SITE. QUIET AS IT WAS KEPT THIS WAS POPULAR DURING THE TIME. THESE WERE TEENAGERS WHO WERE INTO FREESTYLING AND HAD BARS. WE RESPECTED THE RULES OF THE GAME. FAST FORWARD TO HIGH SCHOOL, IT BECAME MORE THAN JUST A PLATFORM FOR RAPPERS. IT BECAUSE A SOCIAL PLATFORM THAT BROUGHT ABOUT ENTERTAINMENT NEWS AND GENERATED CONVERSATION ABOUT THE CURRENT STATE OF THE INDUSTRY. I ADDED THE RADIO COMPONENT WHILE I WAS ON MY JOURNEY TO BE ON A BIGGER RADIO PLATFORM.

 

VALIDATED: WHAT CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT "RAPPIN LOUNGE RADIO"?

DJ EPIDEMIK: RAPPIN LOUNGE RADIO BECAME THE PLATFORM FOR HOST AND DJS. WE HAD DIFFERENT DJS FROM DON DEMARCO AND OTHER DESERT STORM AFFILIATES. BAD BOY AFFILIATED DJS AND UP AND COMING DJS. I CREATED THE PLATFORM FOR ME TO SHOWCASE MY TALENTS AS A DJ AND SHOWCASE MY FRIENDS TALENTS WHO WERE ARTIST.

 

VALIDATED: HOW CAN PEOPLE INQUIRE ABOUT BEING ON THE SHOW?

DJ EPIDEMIK: THEY CAN HIT ME UP, RIGHT NOW WE ARE IN THE REBUILDING STAGES. GETTING NEW SHOWS AND NEW PERSONALITIES INVOLVED. HIT ME ON ANY SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORM @DJEPDIEMIK.

 

VALIDATED: DESCRIBE YOUR FIRST DJ'ING GIG.

DJ EPIDEMIK: HONESTLY MY FIRST GIG I WASN’T NERVOUS, I LEARNED A LOT ABOUT PLAYING FOR A CROWD. I HAD BEEN DJ’N ON RAPPIN LOUNGE AND HAD A LARGE NUMBER OF LISTENERS. I WAS CONFIDENT IN MYSELF AS A DJ. THERE WERE UPS AND DOWNS AS THAT IS KNOWN TO ANY UP AND COMING ARTIST OR DJ. I’VE BEEN THROUGH EQUIPMENT FAILURES, UNDERSTANDING WHY YOU SPEND THE BIG BUCKS ON EQUIPMENT. THIS LED ME TO ACQUIRE INDUSTRY STANDARD EQUIPMENT. BIG MISTAKE IN THE BEGINNING WAS EQUIPMENT BECAUSE I HAD TO TRAVEL WITH EXTRA EQUIPMENT TO SET UP IN THE CLUB.

 

VALIDATED: YOU'VE WORKED WITH FASHION LABEL, TOMMY HILFIGER AND HIP-HOP LEGEND, DJ CLUE. WE ALSO HEARD YOU WERE A MUSICAL AMBASSADOR FOR TRUE RELIGION IN BROOKLYN. WHAT WAS YOUR INVOLVEMENT IN THESE COLLABORATIONS AND WHAT DID YOU LEARN FROM THE EXPERIENCES?

DJ EPIDEMIK: I STARTED WORKING WITH TOMMY HILFIGER BECAUSE OF KAT DELUNA. SHE WAS AN ARTIST THAT HE SIGNED TO HIS LABEL AT THE TIME I WAS WORKING WITH HER. WORKING WITH CLUE I WAS AN OPENING DJ, AND AUDIO SUPPORT. IF SOMETHING WENT WRONG WITH THE SOUND I WAS THE ONE TO FIGURE IT OUT. FOR THE BROOKLYN TRUE RELIGION STORE I WAS THE DJ FOR THEIR IN STORE EVENTS. WHAT I’VE LEARNED FROM EACH EXPERIENCE IS TO TAKE OPPORTUNITIES AS THEY ARE AVAILABLE AND TO CHOOSE WISELY ON WHICH TO TAKE. SOME OF THEM CAN SET YOU FORWARD AND SOME CAN SET YOU BACK.

 

VALIDATED: DO YOU HAVE ANY OTHER SKILL SETS THAT PEOPLE MAY NOT KNOW ABOUT? IF SO TELL US ABOUT THEM?

DJ EPIDEMIK: I HAVE A BFA IN DESIGN AND TECHNOLOGY, COVERS WEB DESIGN GRAPHICS AND VIDEO EDITING. I WORK WITH PRO TOOLS AS WELL AND ENGINEERED FOR REGGAE RECORDING ARTIST GYPTIAN FOR A DIPLO RECORD.

 

VALIDATED: WHICH DJ'S INFLUENCED YOUR STYLE OF DJ'ING? WHAT, IF ANYTHING DID YOU BORROW FROM THEM?

DJ EPIDEMIK: I WOULD SAY BIG KAP (R.I.P), FUNKMASTER FLEX, GRANDMASTER FLASH, KID CAPRI, AND DJ RED ALERT JUST TO NAME A FEW.

 

VALIDATED: YOU'VE DJ'ED FOR HIP-HOP ARTIST LIKE LARGE PROFESSOR, PLANET ASIA, G’DEP, AND MIC HANDZ. NAME 2 OTHER HIP-HOP ARTIST, DEAD OR ALIVE YOU'D LIKE TO DJ FOR AND WHY?

DJ EPIDEMIK: I WOULD OF LOVED TO DJ FOR NOTORIOUS BIG (R.I.P) BECAUSE I GREW UP LISTENING TO HIS MUSIC, AND JAY-Z JUST TO BE ABLE TO TOUCH THE MARKETS HE IS IN AND GAIN SOME INSIGHTS TO BIZ FROM HIS PERSPECTIVE. SHOUTOUT TO MIC HANDZ FOR THE OPPORTUNITY OF PUTTING ME ON THE SAME STAGE AS LARGE PRO, AND PLANET ASIA.

 

VALIDATED: AS A DJ, HOW HUMBLING OF AN EXPERIENCE WAS IT DJ'ING ALONGSIDE VETERANS LIKE DJ WALLAH, DJ ENUFF, DJ CLUE, DJ DON DEMARCO AND DJ FIRST CHOICE? DOES IT GIVE YOU A SENSE OF VALIDATION?

DJ EPIDEMIK: MORE OR LESS I FEEL IT VALIDATES MY WORK THAT I PUT IN.

 

VALIDATED: PLEASE EXPLAIN THE DJ'S ROLE IN HIP-HOP AND THE IMPORTANCE OF THAT ROLE.

DJ EPIDEMIK: IN HIP HOP WE ARE THE MUSIC TRENDSETTERS, BEFORE THE EMCEE RAPPED ABOUT HOW NICE THE DJ WAS. WE TRULY GET THE MUSIC TO THE MASSES. WE KEEP THE MUSIC ALIVE AND ARE THE HISTORIANS TO THE MUSIC THAT INFLUENCES HIP HOP AND THAT COMES FROM HIP HOP.

 

VALIDATED: AS A DJ, WHAT DO YOU FEEL YOUR RESPONSIBILITY IS TO HIP-HOP CULTURE?

DJ EPIDEMIK: ME AS A DJ I AM RESPONSIBLE TO KEEP THE CULTURE ALIVE AND PASS IT ON THE NEXT GENERATION, THE PROPER WAY AND BY THAT I MEAN RESPECT WHERE IT CAME FROM TO KNOW WHERE IT’S GOING.

VALIDATED: WITH SO MANY DIFFERENT TYPES OF HIP-HOP; BOOM BAP, TRAP, ETC, DO YOU THINK CATEGORIES SHOULD BE IMPLEMENTED FOR THE GENRE?

DJ EPIDEMIK: HIP-HOP IS HIP HOP. CATEGORIES ARE FOR THE MUSIC INDUSTRY. HIP HOP IS A CULTURE, A LIFESTYLE... IF YOUR MUSIC IS INFLUENCED BY IT AND HAS THE ELEMENTS IT’S HIP HOP.

 

VALIDATED: WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE BROOKLYN HIP-HOP SCENE RIGHT NOW? ANY ARTIST WE SHOULD BE ON THE LOOKOUT FOR?

DJ EPIDEMIK: I HAVE BEEN WATCHING THE UP AND COMING ARTIST FROM A WORLDWIDE PERSPECTIVE, HAVING WORKED WITH ARTIST FROM WEST COAST LIKE BRYCE XAVIER, LUCKEY BONO, PYNK LE’MONADE, AND A FEW OTHERS.

 

VALIDATED: THE FIRST QUARTER OF 2019, WHAT CAN WE EXPECT FROM DJ EPIDEMIK?

DJ EPIDEMIK: MORE MIXES AND MORE SHOWS. MERCH WILL BE AVAILABLE IN THE FIRST QUARTER OF 2019.

 

VALIDATED: WHERE CAN THE READERS SUPPORT YOU AND YOUR MUSIC ONLINE AND SOCIAL MEDIA?

DJ EPIDEMIK: BEST WAY TO FIND ME IS WWW.DJEPIDEMIK.COM AND ALL SOCIAL MEDIA IS @DJEPIDEMIK.

Troy Hendrickson