I’m feeling good, man. My spirits are up and I have a lot of projects coming out.
You’ve been making a lot of big moves lately.
I’ve just been grinding more. I’ve been doing it for awhile, but sometimes it takes longer for people to know what you’ve been doing. I’ve been doing it all the time. I’ve been dropping mixtapes every week for the past two years. People are starting to recognize it. A lot of good rappers are showing their support for me.
How did you get your start in the mixtape game?
I’m from Queens and Cutmaster C was one of those dudes I looked up to. I grew up under Clue and the other DJs that were really doing it at the time. They’ve definitely laid out a great blueprint. A lot of mixtape DJs are not up on the mixtape game in the early stage. I’ve been listening to Ron G mixtapes when I was 11. I can go back to Clue mixtapes and Dream Team mixtapes. I’m fortunate to have been put onto mixtapes when I was younger. I just followed the blueprint and I’ve been DJing since I was 12 years-old, so that helps out a lot.
I’ve been around the DJ game for awhile, but it took a little time for me to get out of school and really focus on it.
You just did The New Big East project with Kay Slay recently. What’s it like working with him?
That’s been pretty good. Littles hooked me up with that. He was doing research on the streets. Kay Slay has been a legend in the mixtape game and Littles was looking for the two hottest DJs. He needed an up-and-coming one for The New Big East project. He said Kay Slay talked good about me and said I was hard on the streets and that he was willing to work with me. That was a great opportunity for me. That broadened my horizons. A lot of people started to know who Superstar Jay was.
What made you want to be a part of The New Big East project?
From looking at Littles’ background, he’s been doing DVDs since five years ago when people weren’t even putting out DVDs. I definitely wanted to be a part of history. I’m from the East Coast and all the rappers are coming together. I knew it could make history. I wanted to be a part of that so I joined the campaign.
You work with a lot of new artists. How important is that as a DJ?
If you go way back, any phenomenal artist got broke by a DJ. I think it’s important. DJs are the A&Rs of the streets. We work so closely with the artists and we promote them. When you find a genuine artist and you work with them, it’s a blessing. I listen to new music every day. Everybody hits me that they’re the next one, but when you find that one genuine artist that can blow up, it’s a blessing.
What do you look for in a new artist?
I definitely look at creativity and buzz presence. Nowadays people are saying the East Coast is not as dominant as it was before, but it’s all about good records. The South isn’t just winning because they’re the South. They’re making good records right now. You can do freestyles as a new artist, but you also have to make songs. You have to make that transition in the rap game.
What's the most important thing an up-and-coming DJ or rapper can do to make it through the funnel and not get caught up with everyone else?
It’s all about consistency. That goes for any artist. If you’re consistent with whatever you do, you’ll be successful. I went to school in Buffalo and when I came back to New York, there were 2,000 DJs doing what I was doing. But it’s about your drive. If you stay consistent in what you’re doing and being that I was a real DJ helped. You have to stay consistent. I kept on dropping with the Clue’s and all them and people may not have grabbed the CDs then, but they saw the consistency and then they saw me starting to collab with big artists. Then they had to recognize.
What was Buffalo like for you?
From being in different countries and different states, upstate is looking at what’s on TV and what’s hot on TV. They go with the Top 100 for radio. It’s not like New York where you can break a record overnight. A lot of people are tuned into the South upstate. If you have a good record, you have to really push it up there because they don’t really tend to gravitate to breaking new records in upstate New York.
You’re going on the West Coast leg of the Street Dreams tour this summer. What do you hope that does for you?
It’s just another step for people knowing the brand of Superstar Jay. My label partner is Ali Vegas, who’s signed to Rich Soil, which is Lamar Odom’s label on Asylum. I think this tour is going to broaden my horizons and people who don’t know me out there will know me.
As a DJ on the rise, how important is it to get out of New York City to see what else is out there?
It’s great. You have to get out to see how much other talent is out there. I met up with this dude Trouble in Mississippi who’s got some great music. I’m talking to three groups about getting records done for my album that’s coming out. For me, touring and going to different states, I’m just recognizing new talent everywhere.
Why did you sign with Rich Soil?
When I was doing my full grind, Lamar was just getting his deal sorted out with Asylum. They said they needed a DJ who was hot on the streets to promote Ali Vegas. I was already promoting my album and I was going to do it independently. Lamar called me. I’ve known him since I was a little kid. He told me he heard I was the hottest DJ and it was a coincidence that we knew each other. He said he needed to take Ali Vegas to another level on the streets. I said I could do it. I was already putting my own promotional posters up and paying for beats and then he offered the deal. Why wouldn’t I want to sign with an NBA player? He was real serious. This past summer, he just walked around all of New York City and was asking what was the hottest thing out and my name kept coming up. He’s a millionaire walking around New York City asking what’s hot. I saw that he was real serious about the game. From there, I just signed the contract and it’s been a dream.
How is your album Why Not? coming?
It’s coming real good. I’m going to have some G-Unit appearances. I’m talking to Dipset right now about some appearances. Lamar’s talking to Snoop right now. I’m going to get Snoop on the album. I’m talking to D-Block. I’m trying to bring the East Coast back. I’m talking to some southern artists. I think I’m going to come out with four videos for it – an East Coast video, an R&B video, a South video and a West Coast video. I’m just trying to work it the best I can work it. Coming from the mixtape game, you have to know how to hustle on the streets to try and get your album the best it can be.
Some DJ albums haven’t done well recently. What do you have to do to make sure Why Not? is successful?
I think what happened with Clue’s album is he didn’t do a lot of advertising. He’s busy. Khaled is around and he’s everywhere. He was promoting his album and there’s some good leeway with him because he’s on Koch, but he had to do his own advertisements. From artists to DJs, it’s all about selling yourself. I was at 245 and I lost about 40 pounds just to have a look for the industry. I’m going on a 20 city tour to colleges. I’m doing what I have to to get my name out so people are excited when my album comes out.
When are you looking to drop the album?
We’re looking at September or October. That’s when we’ll go on the 20 city tour. I’m going on tour this summer with Ali Vegas and I’m meeting up with new artists every day. I think by October I’ll definitely have my album out.
A lot of DJs are getting into the production side of things. Will you?
Definitely. I just produced four records on my album with some big artists. A lot of DJs get into production but every DJ used to blend tracks. Kay Slay and Clue are good at that and I’m good and I just started playing around with it. I have a producer with me by the name of Doc and we’ve been working together making some tracks. I think I’ll have produced four tracks on my album.
What’s been the biggest challenge getting into production?
It’s a gift and a curse when working with artists. A lot of mixtape DJs get labeled that they can’t do parties and they can’t do beats and that we just rely on music on the internet. But when you have good relationships with people, they give you a chance. You can probably get to an artist more as a producer by being a DJ because a lot of artists are trying are trying to pump their record to you to play too. I grew up down the block from Q-Tip and I got some pointers from him growing up. I’m getting a lot of pointers from people.
As a mixtape DJ, do you feel the need to get heavy into the production or should you just stick to what you’re good at?
I’m known for exclusives. When I first started, I did a lot of blend tapes but now you have people that don’t really understand that game. With exclusives, anybody can do that. If you’re on the internet, anybody can be an exclusive DJ. You have to be creative now because everyone comes with the same tracks. You have to do something special now and bring a lot of creativity to the game. That’s what I’m trying to bring right now.
You won Rookie of the Year at Justo’s this past year. What does that award mean to you?
It means the world to me. Rest in Peace to Justo. Before, there were ten prominent DJs that you had to go against. Now there are 200. It felt good winning that and I’ve been on my grind. I’ve been doing this for a long time and I’ve been trying to get my name out there. I was also MTV Breakthrough DJ of the Year with Mick Boogie. That’s the best of both worlds.
You’re a part of the Union DJs and the Noize Mob DJs. As a DJ, how important is it to have a crew?
When I was first getting well-known, a lot of crews were coming to me and asking me to be down with them. I felt like if I joined a big DJ crew with over 2 million DJs, would we really be family? I did my homework on Noize Mob and that’s my mixtape crew. There’s 40 DJs and they do mixtapes and are on the radio. We have a conference call every week. They’re all real DJs. They can really rock a party.
Being with the Union, that’s a whole ‘nother level of DJs. That’s all the party DJs that are taking over New York like DJ Self. He’s one of the biggest party DJs out there. Even Dirty Harry is with the Union. I’m real happy. I’m living a dream right now just being down with two respectful crews. Noize Mob won the Mixtape Crew of the Year at Justo’s. The Union is taking over New York. All you have to do is ask who’s throwing the best parties in New York and it’s the Union. I feel good that I’m with two of the best crews and that I can do the mixtapes and parties. I feel good about that.
You’re also working with an artist Storm P. Why should we check for him?
His history is that when he was coming up in Queens, it was 50 and Storm. Storm did one of the last tracks with 50 before he got shot. All of Queens was about Storm and 50. We had a deal with Flavor Unit and they really tried to put him with a group of guys. He was going out to LA to record for his album and that didn’t really work out. His solo album didn’t really work out so we had to get out of the contract. The kid is special. The streets are loving him. He got nominated for Underground Artist of the Year at Justo’s. Everybody that listens to him says he’s the next one. We have a lot of offers from labels right now.
You’re also working with Clap Cognac. What kind of potential does he have?
He just needs a break. He’s phenomenal. He’s a beast. He’s from the Bronx. Jermaine Dupri was hollering at him. Ruff Ryders was hollering at him and G-Unit was hollering at him. He just needs a break. I’m just trying to break new artists. A lot of dudes break artists that they know. Clap is phenomenal. Clap won four times on 106 and Park. He only lost because he was really freestyling. He’s big on the underground circuit and in New York City. We got some deals on the table for him. Hopefully I can put Storm out and then next put Clap out.
Has the mixtape game changed as much as you thought it would with the arrest of DJ Drama?
The mixtape game is good and bad. The good thing about it is that it’s going to bring forth more albums from DJs. If we can’t get this together with the RIAA, we’re going to have to come out with albums. The way the industry is, artists can’t come out every six months with an album but they need a place to showcase their music. There are probably going to be a lot of independent albums with DJs and I think a lot of independent artists are going to have to start working with DJs to get their music out.
The bad part about it is that the RIAA has to understand that if we don’t have mixtapes and they aren’t relevant, who’s going to be the next 50 Cent and the next Papoose? They’re not going to get broken through the radio. Shutting down the mixtapes doesn’t make sense. It’s going to destroy a lot of careers and then the game is really going to be in trouble.
A lot of DJs are going to the free download now. Is that a good thing?
I think that’s a great thing. As long as music is being heard, that’s a great thing. With technology now, a lot of people don’t even want to go to stores. They just want to go to their computer to get music. If that’s how it is, so be it. As long as music is getting out there and I’m creating the next 50 Cent or Papoose, I’m 100% with it.
What’s next for you?
I got a lot of things going for me. I just signed a clothing deal with some Korean clothing makers. I have a talented kid in my neighborhood that does clothes and we took a meeting and got a deal. I have a DVD called Sports, Dreams and Entertainment. It’s kind of like a Smack DVD but it’s different. I’m just bringing a little more knowledge for these kids to look at. I got Skane from Desert Storm, Mike Lighty, Duke da God and Rockwilder and some others. I’m just trying to let people know what they need to know to get into this game. They need to know. Plus I’m in LA a lot so I got Kobe Bryant and Lamar on my DVD. A lot of NBA players have labels and they’re trying to be recognized. I got Ron Artest and a couple of actors on my DVD. I got Yayo, Swizz Beatz, Remy Martin, Jae Millz, Ali Vegas and Storm on there along with some others.
What advice would you offer to up-and-coming DJs?
Just keep the streets hot. If you’re a real DJ, help the culture flourish. If you want to do it, just keep it real. Don’t undercut DJs and just keep on grinding. You have to keep on knocking on these doors. You have to keep it relevant. They’re trying to take us down and we have to stick together because we’re one of the biggest markets in music. I just tell all these DJs to keep on grinding. Look at what I’ve done. The sky’s the limit.
What do you want to say to everybody?
The Superstar Jay album is coming out this year. It’s going to be incredible. Why Not? Check for Storm P and Clap Cognac and Sports, Dreams and Entertainment. If you’ve never heard of me, check me out. You’ll definitely be satisfied with what you hear.