Rolling Out

DJ Jazzy Jeff gives tips to the next generation on being a master mixer

DJ Jazzy Jeff says your journey will be different than everyone else’s

Two-time Grammy Award-winning producer DJ Jazzy Jeff was 10 years old when he started mixing at parties, and since then he has been a staple in the music industry with his skills, innovative production, and versatility. His legacy in music includes a DMC Championship and multiple Grammy Awards, American Music Awards, and NAACP Image Awards.

Jazzy Jeff spoke with rolling out about his journey and tips for DJs looking to build their résumés.

What do you say to that person that is inspired by your journey and wants to set out and do the same thing?

I can’t even give advice to someone about the journey that I’ve taken, because those paths are no longer there. Everything in the world is different. You have a lot more access to getting your music heard. When I started making music, we would have to save up our money. Everybody had jobs, you save up your money and go in the studio, and rent the studio for two hours and try to put as much stuff down to get a tape to get on the bus to go to New York and stand outside of a record company to get somebody to hear it. Not only can you make amazing music on your laptop and in your room, but you can push a button and send it out to the rest of the world. It’s just your job to let the rest of the world know that it’s out there. I tell people the playing field has pretty much leveled out. The same thing for me to get music out is the same thing for you to get music out.

How have accessibility and resources played a part in the growth of being a DJ?

It’s everything because we would do whatever it took to just be around it. I would get coffee for somebody in the studio if it put me in the studio so that I can suck up as much knowledge as I can. Now you have YouTube University and you can pretty much learn anything that you want from there. For me, I am excited at the fact that the excuses are starting to go away. Now it’s kind of like if you want to do it, there’s a way that you can get the knowledge and there’s a way that you can show people if you have talent.

What are some tips that you would give to a DJ looking to get their name out to the public?

Be as active as you can on social media and find your tribe. Find people that are interested in making beats, find people that are interested and writing songs, you know that that community is very big online, you find that you can get a lot of tips and tools, you know, to figure out if this is what you want to do.

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