DJ John J [Interview]
Toronto, ON – Having toured with the likes of Young Buck, Kid Capri, Amerie, Kimora Lee, Lloyd Banks, YoungBloodZ, Royce 5’9, BET 106 and Park Freestyle Champ Posta Boy, Loon, NBA All Star Jamaal Magloire, Shaquille O’Neal and Arizona D Backs Orlando O-Dog Hudson DJ John J makes an impressionable statement when it comes to moving a crowd! John J has been across Canada, the Caribbean and parts of the U.S., collaborating on mixtapes with similar names including Buck, Lil’ Scrappy, YoungBloodZ, Royce, and various others.
He recently signed with 50 Cent’s official DJ, Whoo Kid’s Shadyville Entertainment and will have a much larger reach towards the American audience via this affiliation. He is no stranger to getting a live audience off their feet or as he likes to call it “Crowd Control”. John J is known for passionately dissecting records, and finding original ways to bring music to the masses… and on a very consistent basis which is something many DJs lack in order to get that hype. Focused and confident, John J is ready to take your party to the next level!
HipHopCanada: So you’ve been in the game for a while now, but give us a break down of when you got started.DJ John J: I started about 8 years ago. I first started with a promoter who was a part of Major League. They used to do parties at Studio 69; it was more of a mature clientele, so that was the first big thing that I had my hand in. Before that I used to DJ for a promotional company called WetJam who threw all ages parties at a club called Brooklyn.
HipHopCanada: So when did you start in the mixtape circuit?
DJ John J: I never used to do mixtapes because I was always too picky with my mixes. When I put out a mixtape I have to make sure that it is really good. It takes me about a month to put one together. When I got with Chris Hines, who is my manager now, he pushed me into doing mixtapes. I don’t release a tape without a major host on it. I have tapes with all the big artists from the South. I actually started doing all the mixtapes with artists from the South a long time ago. I was already doing it 5 to 6 years ago, and now everybody wants to do a South tape.
HipHopCanada: Do you think that it benefited your career to do South tapes?
DJ John J: I was known for doing all the South tapes; everyone would come and check me about them. I know the South has blown up a lot in the recent years but I was on that stuff before anyone else.
HipHopCanada: Yeah for sure, the South has been holding the market down for quite sometime now. So do you have anything else happening on the side?DJ John J: I have a studio set up in my house, and I do production on the side. It’s hard for me to do both because I like to give my attention to one thing at a time.
HipHopCanada: Nice! So you really put your full focus on the task at hand. What do you have coming up for you?DJ John J: I produced a track for Obie Trice and he is really felling it, so hopefully he is working on it as we speak. So maybe that will be coming out in the near future.
HipHopCanada: Can you see yourself leaving the DJ scene and focusing more on becoming an established producer?
DJ John J: I don’t think that I could ever leave the DJ scene behind. I would love to DJ forever because it’s my passion, but at some point I am going to have to. Realistically I have just become popular over the past year so I still have a long run to go.
HipHopCanada: So who does John J look up to?
DJ John J: Well I started off with Mastermind back in the day. He used to do a show on Energy 108 – Mastermind Street Jam. I was in high school then and I used to stay up every Monday and Tuesday from 12-1AM to listen to the show. Of all the Canadian DJs, he is the only one to really inspire me.
HipHopCanada: I remember taping that show on any tape deck I could find! Mastermind; classic for sure! So what Canadian artists are you working with right now?
DJ John J: I’m working closely with Richie Sosa. I have got some stuff going on with him as far as freestyles. I’m also working with Page. I don’t like to work with too many artists because it is too much to focus on all at once, and I don’t have that much time. At the same time though, I do play other Canadian music. I mess with some Foundation stuff, coming from Stirling’s camp, MIC PERRI, an Italian rapper…
HipHopCanada: You must be crazy busy. With all of this going on for you, what do you do to relax? I hear you were a big baseball player!
DJ John J: Used to! Back in the day! I don’t anymore. A friend of mine used to play for the Toronto Blue Jays; Orlando Hudson. He got traded a couple of years ago to Arizona. It got to a point where I couldn’t play anymore due to an arm injury and I had to make a choice. I went for DJ’ing.
HipHopCanada: Well then it was destined to be. A lot of artists have some side projects that they have their hand in, such as apparel, music labels, or whatever. Do you have any side projects?
DJ John J: No. I am a big shoe freak, but I never really wanted to get into designing. If you come to my house, I have about 200 pairs of shoes. I have so many clothes, that I had to line them up on the couch; I ran out of room in my closet! That’s something that people don’t understand here in Toronto. You have to be someone that people want to look up to; especially artists. You can’t be walking around – not to say looking like the average person – but when you walk into a room you have to look like someone, even if you’re not someone. I always try to keep up with my clothes and apparel and keep everything clean.
HipHopCanada: Well said. For sure the first impression on a crowd is what you are wearing and how you look, whether we like it or not! So who is your favorite designer right now?
DJ John J: I’m feeling Rocawear, Miskeen Originals…
HipHopCanada: Cool. What is the most important thing to you as a DJ?
DJ John J: The people! I love rocking the crowd. You have to entertain the people. But equipment wise it has to be the computer!
HipHopCanada: Definitely. So where do you see yourself in 3 years?
DJ John J: Right now I am trying to get together with a major artist. I have had opportunities but nothing has really gone through. I want to be the DJ for a major artist. I can see that happening, but just getting to that point is difficult. I am close with a lot of major artists; YoungBloodZ, Obie Trice, but they all already have DJ’s. So I’m waiting my turn waiting to take a spot when it’s available. Being from Canada is a little more difficult because everyone is in different areas, so I would have to move somewhere.
HipHopCanada: So let me get John J’s top Canadian DJs!
DJ John J: I like Spexx. He’s a really hot DJ; best reggae DJ in the country. I am the biggest reggae fan even though I don’t play a lot of it. As far as personality and skill, Spexx is definitely one of my favorites. Ill Kidz are family, I like what they have going on. As far as newer up-and-coming DJs I’d have to say JR Flo; he has a lot of skill. I work tight with a lot of DJ’s so I could say some more, but I don’t want to offend anyone. [Laughing]
HipHopCanada: [Laughing] Ok… So give me your top Canadian artists.
DJ John J: Of all time?
HipHopCanada: Sure! Why not!
DJ John J: I like Kardinal, Ghetto Concept Saukrates… I like what they were doing back in the day. More recent artists that I’m feeling are Richie Sosa, Page, Daetona and Mayhem Morearty.
HipHopCanada: Do you have any last words you want to say?
DJ John J: I have a tape coming out with Young Joc in the beginning of June, so definitely check that out and check out my MySpace. I want to give a big shout out to my manager Chris Hines and everyone that supports me. Oh and one more thing…
HipHopCanada: What’s that?
DJ John J: I think that a lot of DJs in this city have to get their own style and stop biting other DJs. I’m not talking about me personally, but in general. People know by listening to the music that it’s John J, Baby Yu, or Ill Kidz. I see a lot of newer DJs following others and not taking their own ideas into motion. Personally, I have been inspired by other DJs, but I have my own style of doing things. With all the competition there is in Toronto, you have to be original. Everyone can mix an 8 bar intro with an 8 bar chorus… take it beyond that step!
HipHopCanada: And there you have it! Keep it original! Thanks for taking the time to talk with HipHopCanada.
DJ John J: Thank You!
Editor’s note: For more information on John J you can visit his MySpace page at http://www.myspace.com/johnjmusic.
Written by Samatha Wong for HipHopCanada