DJ Whoo Kid Breaks Everything (and More) Down…
Mon, 21 May 2012 09:53:09
"You've got to know how to read the crowd," declares Dj Whoo Kid [Twitter].
That's certainly one of many things he excels at. The DJ, radio personality, performer, and marketing genius remains one of hip hop's most crucial tastemakers and something of a guiding light for the genre. He's done over 400 mixtapes including seminal pieces for 50 Cent and Snoop Dogg, paving the way for the mixtape revolution. In his open format DJ gigs all over the world, he blends hip hop and house like no other artist out there. Plus, he's got his shows on Sirius XM, which are nothing short of hilarious. So can Whoo Kid do it all? Yes, he can. The question is how.
That's what ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino sat down with him to talk about in this exclusive interview.
What are your open format gigs like?
When I get booked for places like Dubai, Ibiza, or the South of France, it's always like 70 percent house and 30 percent hip hop. Even when I started DJing like twenty years ago, I began with house music. A lot of people don't know that. I lived in Queens. LL Cool J lived a block away from me. To the left was DJ Clue and to the right was Nas. My block was all rappers. It was normal for me to be there in the beginning when it started. Before that, it was club music. In Little Jamaica, that's what it was. When hip hop came into play, I converted myself into this whole new thing. I kill the house music though.
What's the solo set like? Do you feel house and hip hop can converge?
They're converging now. A lot of DJs will remix hip hop with house. The biggest records like Rihanna's are essentially house records. They're so big urban clubs dance to them. The Ne-Yo song is a house record. Things are so fucking far out even LMFAO is accepted because the music is so crazy and banging that they'll accept it. You would never see that in a club where they expect you to just play bottle popping rap over and over again. Overseas, they never accepted hip hop period in a club. That's why I converted to doing more house. Now, it's reversed. Hip hop is accepted but you have to kill it with the house joints. That's why the top DJs mix the hip hop and house. Everybody is comfortable with the fact they hear a hot record with a house hit that's been out for a while. Those make the clubs go crazy. You can annihilate a crowd with Jay-Z and Avicii, and the shit doesn't make any sense [Laughs]. Look at Flo Rida! The biggest record is him and Avicii! Overseas, they don't give a fuck about all the hardcore gangster shit. They just want to party hard, drink, and have incredible sex [Laughs]. There's a human-to-human situation there. They don't explore the whole "gangster" side the way we do here. You have to go to Las Vegas or Los Angeles to enjoy the hip hop and house together. That's the open format and where I come in. I'm not trying to be like those ill house DJs. It takes like twenty years. I try to be open format and a DJ for stars. On my show, I interview so many movie stars. It only makes sense to do their parties. I did a party with Dr. Drew. It was weird he came up to me and he asked, "Could you play that 'Paris' song?" I said, "What are you talking about the Jay-Z and Kanye West song?" [Laughs] It was a corporate party and everyone was dancing to it. Of course, I had the clean version. They never want to say the title.
How do you construct a set?
You read the crowd. You figure out if it's a rich crowd, if it's pop, if it's eclectic, or if it's exclusive. There are so many different crowds. I've DJed like 100 countries. I've been going every year. I do Europe, Asia, and Australia. Everywhere you go it's not the same. They want to hear dubstep in one place, and they want to just hear reggae in another. You'd be surprised. It's different everywhere. Since I'm a New York DJ, I'll always start with bangers like Jay-Z's "Give it to Me" or 50 Cent's "What Up Gangsta". I begin with the basics. Regardless who you are, you're going to love a couple of these joints. Then, you've got them. I do a lot of hook songs the crowd can yell along to. Then, it turns into a wild, crazy situation.
What do you dig about doing your Sirius XM Radio shows G-Unit Saturdays and Whoolywood Shuffle?
I used to work for Hot 97, and I moved on. Eminem started a channel called Shade 45. Paul Rosenberg called and asked if I wanted to be a program director and direct Saturdays. I'm not going to say no to that [Laughs]. Eminem became my boss. I started by interviewing rappers. I wanted to do something different. I asked the publicist for all of the Hollywood cats. I can talk to anyone. I make it comfortable. I had Kermit the Frog and other people you wouldn't believe [Laughs]. It becomes a ten-hour mixtape from 10am to 8pm. There are over ten guests from strippers to sports stars. Then from 1pm to 5pm, it's all movie stars. I cover all walks of life, there's always a connection to hip hop. Roseanne Bar's son is a hip hop fiend. She had to come on my show so she could be cool for her son. He's a Whoo Kid fan. Robert De Niro loves rims! There's a connection to hip hop, and you don't see that in other interviews. I get stuff out of people you wouldn't believe. It's a wild unbelievable show. Denise Richards is always on talking about stuff you'd never expect.
How do you balance everything? Do they all entwine?
It took me a while to figure out how to balance everything out. Some days, I have crunch time. I don't even know how I'm doing it. I balance mixtapes, touring, clubbing, radio shows, marketing, and other shit. I do it somehow. There's a lot of planning.
What's your stamp on the mixtapes? How would you describe it?
Usually, they'll send me 15 joints, and I'll knock out five and keep it ten or eleven. They like my honesty. I'll tell them what's good. It's like you're hearing a movie. That's what I want these to sound like. People are touring on mixtapes now. It's crazy.
Are you a fan of DJ Whoo Kid?