DJ Envy knows how to make an entrance.
The man born RaaShaun Casey in Queens, New York, who is known professionally as DJ Envy, strolled onto the rolling out set dressed to impress from head to toe. He was wearing a gold chain thick enough to tow a car, but for the rolling out crew, it wasn’t his shiny jewelry or nice clothes that shone the brightest; it was his personality. Anybody with his level of prestige in the music industry might have an attitude, outrageous demands, and a clique with a list of demands as well. The Envy we met was a humble, hilarious, encouraging man who utterly loves his wife and family.
“The People’s Choice,“ Envy is one of the most powerful deejays in the industry. Known for his infamous music mixes, when it comes to radio, Power 105‘s “The Breakfast Club” is uppermost in most people’s minds. The show has become so popular that it airs in 15 markets around the country.
A proud graduate of HBCU Hampton University, Envy has used his degree to make smart moves in business; he’s owned a number of businesses and continues to find ways to invest his money and make it work for him. Envy takes us on his journey to success, talks about his family life, and explains why he loves music.
Find out what he said about his hustle that made us green with envy.
Growing up in Queens when the hip-hop era was booming, how did you know you would become a professional DJ?
Well, I didn’t know. It was a hobby at first and then I started making money. I went to college for marketing and management at Hampton University so I thought I would be on Wall Street working for a hedge fund, but I really enjoyed music because it didn’t feel like a job.
How do you think hip-hop has transitioned since your Hot 97 days or since DJ Clue’s Desert Storm mixtape days?
I think it’s the era of the internet now. When I would do a mixtape, people waited for my mixtapes, whether if it was out for four weeks or you had to mail it and it took five days to get [it], they would wait. But when the internet came you no longer had to wait, they would want music much faster. So once the mixtapes started dying down, I started doing radio and parties more, then I started transitioning from being a mixtape kid to a radio kid.
How did the “Breakfast Club” opportunity come about?
I left Hot 97 and took a job with Power 105 in the afternoons, and it was great. The program director and music director wanted a new morning show and they wanted something young and fresh, and asked if I would do it and I was like no. I don’t want to get up at 4 a.m. anymore, I like to get when I get up, I like taking my kids to school. But then they made an offer I couldn’t refuse and I was like, “I’ll try it.” They put me in a room with Angela Yee and Charlamagne [Tha God] and it worked. Nobody fought for attention; it just grew naturally and organically to what it is today.
Did you ever think you would attain the level of success you have?
Hell no. And the reason being is because I just wanted to win New York and when you work with new people you never know what to expect. The only thing I did know is that me, Angela Yee, and Charlamagne were all ahead of our time when it came to social media. We were on social media so much whether it was promoting my parties; Angela Yee was promoting her show on Sirius. Our social medias were big we were like, “let’s use what we have and make this show big.” [But] we didn’t have any big budgets, it was all on our own.
There have been a few rumors circulating about you possibly getting a new show. Can you tell us anything about that?
I mean my family and I have gotten offers to do a couple of shows but we turned them down. Right now I really love my family, I love my wife, I love my kids, and I post on Instagram and show people what it’s like for a dad in the music industry. I can still be in the club, be with artists, still make money, and bring my family along for the ride. A lot of people love that and they gave me good feedback, and offers to do a show, so you might see a show.
With all that you have going on how do you balance everything and put things in perspective?
When my wife and I started going out, she was 15 and I was 16 and when we got married she was 21 I was 22. All I wanted was two kids and a million dollars; that was my childhood dream and it kinda grew from there. As far as balance is concerned, I don’t really sleep much. When I’m home I’m usually on the trampoline with my daughter or go-kart riding with my son or reading my babies a story, as well as spending time with my wife. [It takes] balance, but I work to give them opportunities I didn’t have. Growing up in the African American community, my parents were taught to work for 25 years and retire, that’s cool but I don’t want that for my kids and I don’t want that for my community.
What’s the conversation like with your children when they see all the violence going on in today’s world? Does it frighten you?
Yeah. It does frighten me, but with my children I’m absolutely real. I tell them the truth, I tell them what it is. They’ve seen me getting pulled over for driving a nice car, so I let them know that even though we live in a nice town and in a gated community, you’re Black. I always remind them of who they are and where they come from.
How do you invest your money?
I’ve always been an investor; I’ve always had different businesses. I’ve owned car washes, sneaker stores; at one point I was making so much money flipping houses that I almost quit music. Right now I own some properties in Detroit, I also own a juice bar in Brooklyn, [New York], and I’ve got a percentage of a soda company called Top Pop that’s been in business for about 30 years.
You have major endorsement deals with Effen Vodka and Top Pop soda, you have a baby on the way, and you were selected by the Global Spin Awards as the DJ of the Year. What is next for DJ Envy?
You know what — I don’t know. Everybody keeps on asking what is next but I’m just enjoying now. I think a lot of times we always look at what’s next [so much] that we forget to enjoy what’s now.
Story by Lorenzo Gordon
Images by Royal Bridges