ONE TIME FOR HIP-HOP: DJ TRA$E

MANHATTAN, NEW YORK | DJ TRA$E

MANHATTAN, NEW YORK | DJ TRA$E

INTERVIEW: TERRELL “REALIFE” BLACK [@REALIFEVMG]

VALIDATED: GROWING UP IN THE LOWER EAST SIDE OF MANHATTAN, NEW YORK, WHAT’S YOUR EARLIEST MEMORY OF HIP-HOP CULTURE?

DJ TRA$E: GROWING UP IN LES MY EARLIEST MEMORY OF HIP HOP CULTURE HAD TO BE THE PARK JAMS. LEGENDARY DJ’S LIKE DJ RARA, RAYNICE, CUFFY ALL USED TO DJ IN THE PARKS OR BASKETBALL COURTS AND I WOULD JUST COME WATCH AND LISTEN TO THEM DO THEIR THING.

VALIDATED: HOW DID YOU GET INTO DJ’ING?

DJ TRA$E: I GREW UP AROUND DJ’S. MY OLDER BROTHER LUIS HAD A SET UP IN THE HOUSE BACK IN THE DAYS IN HIS ROOM. IT WAS A HOBBY OF HIS AT THE TIME AND I WAS ALWAYS BOTHERING HIM TO GO INTO THE ROOM TO WATCH ‘CAUSE I WAS INTERESTED IN WHAT HE WAS DOING. ALSO LIKE I MENTIONED BEFORE THERE WAS ALWAYS PARK JAMS IN MY HOOD. SO I WAS ALWAYS AROUND DJ’S.

VALIDATED: DESCRIBE YOUR FIRST DJ'ING GIG.

DJ TRA$E: MY FIRST DJ GIG OUTSIDE OF ALWAYS DJ’ING FOR MY FRIENDS IN MY ROOM BACK IN THE DAY WAS A HOUSE PARTY FOR ONE OF THE OG’S IN MY HOOD, HAROLD. I WAS SET UP IN THE BACK BEDROOM OF THE APARTMENT WITH THE SPEAKERS IN THE LIVING ROOM AND THE WHOLE HOOD IN THERE. LOL SO CLASSIC.

VALIDATED: WHICH DJ'S INFLUENCED YOUR STYLE OF DJ'ING?

DJ TRA$E: I DON’T THINK I’VE EVER BEEN ASKED THAT QUESTION. BUT I’LL SAY THIS, IN LES WE HAD A LEGENDARY HIP HOP STORE CALLED “BURKINA”. BACK IN THE DAYS I WOULD ALWAYS GO THERE AND COP MIXTAPES FROM MISTER CEE, G.BO THE PRO & DOUBLE R, KAYSLAY, TONY TOUCH, DJ JUICE, FUNKFLEX, AND OTHERS. I’VE ALWAYS BEEN A BIG FUNK FLEX FAN.

VALIDATED: WHAT, IF ANYTHING DID YOU BORROW FROM THEM?

DJ TRA$E: I’VE ALWAYS BEEN A BIG TALKER ON THE MIC SO WATCHING FLEX AND MISTER CEE AND OTHER DJ’S WITH GREAT MIC SKILLS HAS ALWAYS INSPIRED ME. SHOUT OUT TO MASTER Z AND FRANK JUGGA THEY GREAT ON THE MIC BY THE WAY AND HAVE INSPIRED ME AS WELL.

VALIDATED: YOU CAME UP IN THE ERA OF DIGGING THROUGH CRATES AND NEIGHBORHOOD HOUSE PARTIES, HOW DO YOU FEEL DJ'ING HAS CHANGED OVER THE YEARS?

DJ TRA$E: GOOD QUESTION. WELL OF COURSE IN THE DJ WORLD MORE CONTROLLERS ARE BEING USED BY DJ’S, THAT’S A CHANGE THAT I’VE EMBRACED, I LIKE CONTROLLERS, PIONEER TO BE EXACT, BUT I LEARNED ON TURNTABLES. STILL DON’T GET IT TWISTED I CAN USE TURNTABLES OR WHATEVER TO ROCK A PARTY. I MAKE IT MY BUSINESS TO LEARN ABOUT OTHER PRODUCTS THAT ARE NEW. SO I’M ALWAYS READY NO MATTER WHAT SET UP IS AT A VENUE.

VALIDATED: IS THERE A LACK OF SKILL WITH DJ’S NOWADAYS?

DJ TRA$E: I THINK THERE IS A LACK OF KNOWLEDGE WHEN IT COMES TO USING SOMETHING OTHER THAN A CONTROLLER TO ROCK A PARTY. I FEEL EVERY DJ SHOULD KNOW HOW TO USE TURNTABLES AND EVERYTHING ELSE THAT’S OUT THERE THAT’S BEING USED. DJ’S SHOULDN’T STAY STUCK USING THEIR FAVORITE TOOL. KNOWLEDGE IS KEY.

VALIDATED: IS THERE A LOSS OF THE ART IN THIS DIGITAL SPACE?

DJ TRA$E: NO. THERE ARE DJ’S OUT THERE ELEVATING THE CULTURE AND JUST LIKE THE MUSIC INDUSTRY THE CULTURE IS CHANGING AND WE HAVE TO LEARN HOW TO MOVE WITH THE CHANGE. FOR EXAMPLE, TIDAL AND SOUND CLOUD ALLOW DJ’S TO STREAM MUSIC PLAYLIST ON TO THEIR SERATO SOFTWARE NOW, WHICH SOME DJ’S THINK THAT’S CHEATING, TAKING AWAY FROM THE PROCESS OF LOOKING FOR RECORDS. I THINK IS INCREDIBLE. I’M STILL LEARNING ABOUT IT AND GETTING FAMILIAR WITH THAT NEW FEATURE. AT FIRST I DIDN’T LIKE IT BUT IF THEY CONTINUE TO WORK ON THAT FEATURE AND WORK OUT SOME OF THE BUGS IN THAT FEATURE THAT I’VE CAME ACROSS, I THINK IT CAN BE COOL FOR YOUNG DJ’S.

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

DJ TRA$E: THE DJ HAS THE MOST IMPORTANT ROLE IN HIP HOP AND THAT IS BREAKING RECORDS AND ARTIST. GETTING THE GENERAL PUBLIC FAMILIAR WITH WHAT’S NEW AND HOT IN THE STREET, CLUBS, BARS, LOUNGES AND RADIO.

VALIDATED: YOU'VE BEEN DJ’ING FOR A DECADE, LOOKING BACK OVER YOUR CAREER WHAT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF?

DJ TRA$E: QUITTING MY 9 TO 5 JOB AND BECOMING A FULL TIME DJ IS WHAT I’M MOST PROUD OF. I TOOK A RISK AND IT HAS BEEN WORKING OUT FOR ME SINCE 2015.

VALIDATED: YOU CURRENTLY HOST YOUR OWN INTERNET RADIO SHOW CALLED “THE FIX SHOW” ON DTF RADIO, WHAT CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT IT?

DJ TRA$E: “THE FIX SHOW” I STARTED IN 2015 WITH MY MANAGER AND PARTNER JAY CORBIN. WE HAD JUST MOVED ON FROM HAVING A WEEKLY SHOW ON POWER 105 AND I WAS PRESENTED WITH AN OPPORTUNITY TO BE A PART OF THE BIGGEST ONLINE RADIO STATION IN NYC. SO I SPOKE TO JAY AND A FEW OTHERS WHO WERE CAST MEMBERS WITH US AT THE TIME AND WE CAME UP WITH “THE FIX SHOW“, IT’S AN INTERVIEW BASED SHOW WHICH FOCUSES ON THE LIFE, PROCESS, STRUGGLES AND ACCOMPLISHMENTS OF THE GUEST. FOR EXAMPLE IF WE INVITE AN UPCOMING ARTIST TO THE SHOW, YES WE PLAY AND PROMOTE THEIR MUSIC BUT WE FOCUS ON THEIR LIFE, HOW THE MUSIC, AND THEIR BRAND CAME ABOUT, WHAT WAS GOING ON IN THEIR LIVES WHEN THEIR FIRST SINGLE CAME TO LIFE. STUFF LIKE THAT. AND THANKFULLY IT’S  ABOUT TO BE OUR 4 YEAR ANNIVERSARY IN OCTOBER. THANKS TO ALL OF OUR SUPPORTERS AND VIEWERS. ALSO SHOUT OUT TO MY CURRENT CAST TEAM. (EPIDEMIK, RENE, TAZ AND BREGGA... THEY ARE GREAT.)


VALIDATED: YOU ARE HIP-HOP ARTIST GRAFH’S OFFICIAL TOUR DJ, HOW DID THAT COLLABORATION HAPPEN?

DJ TRA$E: ME AND GRAFH, WE WAS TRYING TO FIGURE THAT OUT RECENTLY. LOL SMH IT’S BEEN A FEW YEARS MY APOLOGIES. LOL NAH, BUT IF I REMEMBER CORRECTLY WE MET AT A CLUB AND WE CLICKED. WE CONTINUED TO BUMP INTO EACH OTHER AT OTHER EVENTS AND WE HAD MUTUAL FRIENDS AS WELL SO THINGS JUST STARTED TO HAPPEN. WE BEEN ON TOUR TOGETHER, HAVE DONE COUNTLESS SHOWS, MAN I’VE LEARNED SO MUCH BEING ON THE ROAD WITH GRAFH, HIS KNOWLEDGE OF THE MUSIC INDUSTRY IS HUGE. HE’S BEEN A GREAT FRIEND AND SUPPORTER. SALUTE TO GRAFH FOR ALL THE OPPORTUNITIES AND BELIEVING IN ME.

VALIDATED: YOU’VE OPENED UP FOR LEGENDARY DJ’S INCLUDING KOOL DJ RED ALERT, FUNK MASTER FLEX, DJ ENUFF, TONY TOUCH, DJ CLUE AND MORE. WHAT DID YOU LEARN FROM THESE EXPERIENCES?

DJ TRA$E: FIRST OFF I HAVE TO SAY I WOULDN’T HAVE EVER THOUGHT I WOULD GET A CHANCE TO WORK WITH LEGENDARY DJ’S LIKE FUNK FLEX, KOOL DJ RED ALERT, TONY TOUCH, ENUFF, MISTER CEE AND MORE. I’M STILL SHOCKED IN UNTIL THIS DAY ABOUT ACCOMPLISHING THAT. THE LESSONS I’VE LEARNED ARE PRICELESS. JUST WATCHING THEM MIX, HOW THEY ENGAGE WITH THE CROWDS, AND HOW THEY CONDUCT THEMSELVES IN DIFFERENT SETTINGS ARE ALL GREAT LESSONS. BUT THE BIGGEST LESSON I WOULD SAY CAME FROM KOOL DJ RED ALERT AND G.BO THE PRO. THAT LESSON WAS ABOUT HAVING LONGEVITY IN THIS DJ CULTURE. THANK YOU RED ALERT, G.BO AND ALL THE LEGENDARY DJ’S FOR ALL THE ADVICE YOU HAVE GIVEN ME AND ALL TALKS WE HAVE HAD THAT HAVE GIVEN ME GUIDANCE IN MY JOURNEY. SALUTE.

VALIDATED: YOU ARE AN OFFICIAL BRAND AMBASSADOR FOR EWING ATHLETICS. HOW DID THAT OPPORTUNITY COME ABOUT?

DJ TRA$E: EVERY DAY I WOULD POST A PICTURE OF MY OUTFIT ROCKING EWING’S AND I WOULD MAKE CUSTOM T-SHIRTS TO MATCH. I WOULD POST PICTURES EVERY DAY ON SOCIAL MEDIA. IRONICALLY ENOUGH A MUTUAL FRIEND DRO WHO WORKS AT SHADY RECORDS WHO KNEW THE VP GREG KELLER HAD MENTION MY NAME TO HIM AT THE CORMEGA X EWING SNEAKER RELEASE EVENT. GREG TOLD HIM THEY HAVE BEEN WATCHING ME FOR A WHILE AND THAT’S PRETTY MUCH HOW I BECAME AN OFFICIAL BRAND AMBASSADOR.

NOW I DJ ALL OF THE SNEAKER RELEASE EVENTS AND HAVE BEEN WORKING WITH THEM ON SOME COLLABORATION PROJECTS AS WELL. IT’S BEEN ALMOST 2 YEARS BEING A PART OF THE EWING TEAM AND I’M GRATEFUL FROM THE OPPORTUNITY. THANK YOU GREG, DAVE, AND DRO. SALUTE.

VALIDATED: YOUR AKA “SNEAKER SHOW KING”, HOW DID YOU GET THAT NAME?

DJ TRA$E: I WAS WELL KNOWN FOR BEING INVOLVED IN ALMOST EVERY SNEAKER EVENT / EXPO IN NYC. CLARK KENT GAVE ME THAT NAME. WHICH IS AN HONOR COMING FROM HIM.

VALIDATED: WHATS NEXT FOR DJ TRA$E?

DJ TRA$E: I DEFINITELY WANT TO DJ AT MSG DURING A KNICKS GAME IN THE FUTURE AND UM, I HAVEN’T TOUCHED THAT HOT 97 SUMMER JAM STAGE SO THAT’S ON THE LIST. ONE IMPORTANT GOAL I WOULD HAVE TO SAY IS GETTING A LONG TERM SPOT ON AN FM OR SATELLITE STATION. HOT 97 WOULD BE NICE BUT I WOULDN’T MIND BEING ON SIRIUS RADIO OR SHADE 45.

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

DJ TRA$E: @DJTRASE ON INSTAGRAM, TWITTER, AND FACEBOOK.

I WOULD LIKE TO SHOUT OUT MY MANAGER AND PARTNER JAY CORBIN FOR BELIEVING IN ME, STICKING BY ME AND GUIDING ME THROUGH THIS DJ WORLD SINCE DAY ONE. SHOUT TO DJ KRAZE AND JOEY O FOR THE COUNTLESS EXPERIENCES AND OPPORTUNITIES. SHOUT OUT TO EWING ATHLETICS AND THE FIX SHOW CAST. SHOUT OUT TO THE SOUND COMMISSION. SHOUT OUT TO LESCRU FOR ALL THE SUPPORT. SHOUT TO CRAIG FOR ALL THE SUPPORT. SHOUT OUT TO GRAFH AND TBDG. SHOUT OUT TO MARK, THE OWNER OF DTF RADIO. SHOUT OUT TO ALL MY FRIENDS AND SUPPORTERS, I APPRECIATE ALL OF YOU. SHOUT TO EVERYONE WHO’S OPENED A DOOR ME, HAS BOOKED ME FOR THEIR EVENT, AND SHOUT OUT TO COVE LOUNGE, BRIK LOUNGE, AND SWEET BK FOR GIVING ME THE OPPORTUNITY IN BECOMING A RESIDENT DJ AT THEIR ESTABLISHMENT.