Those familiar with Atlanta hip hop know that artists trying to break through to become established nationally have opportunities here that they often can only find in New York, Los Angeles, or maybe even Miami. Many up and coming artists do not have the financial backing or power players to get a song on the radio as a first step. Often, artists look to break their music via the multitude of strip clubs around town. If enough DJs around town are playing your record, this is often an important bargaining chip to get your song to radio. This is why strip club DJs (and DJs alone) are such an integral part to hip hop artists.
The Coalition DJs are often the DJs who are breaking an artists record in ATL. But they are much more than just “strip club DJs”. In honor of this month’s celebration of the DJ, we were invited by BEehiveFM Radio’s Nick Love to learn more about what the Coalition DJs do. And while one of the Coalition’s ranks may break your record, the team has a takeover plan that includes more than just the strip clubs.
BE Magazine: How did you get started with the Coalition
DJ Nando: All of my partnas are DJs and my peoples came to me and said we would have more power in the streets if we unite. Everybody has different clubs that they work at and so when we come together it’s like Voltron.
BE Magazine: Where are you from originally?
Nando: Im from VA
BE Magazine: And how did you get started with DJing?
Nando: I was at the right place at the right time! I’m kidding. I got a partna named Kamal. He’s one of the managers at Magic City (infamous Atlanta strip club) and I was running a car audio/stereo/powertel store so I dealt with a lot of music and I always was into hip hop and dance. When I moved here and it was cool to dance here. If you was one of the niggas that was in the circle and all the girls was lookin at you and you ain”t got no money and you gotta do something to get their attention! One day I was in the strip club and Kamal was there and his DJ didn’t show up. He was like, “Man, you got some CDs?” I was like, “Do I? I got everything.” He was like “Go up there and play some music!” I was like, “I ain’t saying nothing” cause I didn’t know what to say. Ten years later, and here I am.
BE Magazine: What artists are you rockin with these days?
Nando: I think the person people link my name to is Young Jeezy. In the beginning, the first time we met, I was an asshole to him. I didn’t like the CD. A lot of people don’t know Jeezy had a CD before his first CD, called Softer Than Hard. And he came over and I didn’t know who he was. He was like “Hey man, play number 4!” And I was like, naw I’m not listening to it. He said, “Well just find a song that you like.” But he grew to know me as a person that’s gonna tell you the truth. So then he started to invite me to the studio and we didn’t just talk about music, we talked about each other families like “How your kids doing? How’s your mother doing?” When Jeezy blew, I was right there. I helped pick the songs on the album and all that grew out of a friendship.
DJ Funky: First of all Core DJ’s we’re on BeehiveFM from 6-10 PM!
BE Magazine: That’s the move. Tell us how you got started in the game.
DJ Funky: I got started bartending, serving drinks at an underground club. I started playing music and DJing at [strip club] Jazzy Ts. After that it was
[legendary Atlanta clubs] 559, 321. My name got kind of big so I pursued a
BE Magazine: What defines your style as a DJ?
Funky: I’m not scared to play shit. I can play what I want and take chances
on breaking records!
For more on DJ Funky, visit Twitter.com/DJFunkyATL
DJ X-Rated: First and foremost you gotta say my name like this: World Famous DJ XRated aka Mr. Hollywood-as-hell-shawty!
BE Magazine: I already knew I wasn’t gonna do ya no justice! Well, today we’re talking about DJs. Tell us how you got in the game.
X-Rated: I got in the game off some bullshit. I played football at Auburn University so I came to the A and I was at club Pin Ups on the Eastside. The DJ was one of my boys and he went to the bathroom so I got on the mic and killed it! I didn’t know anything about DJing but I had a passion for it. I had something to say. DJing is an art. You gotta express how you feel in the club! That’s the power you got to do what you wanna do!
BE Magazine: So BEing that you in the strip club you gotta connect with a LOT of women!
X-Rated: I know it is CRAZY! But the thing I have to address is that it’s not only the strip club. We do more than the strip clubs, ya feel me? So when people say Coalition DJs because our foundation is the strip clubs but we control everything. I can play Roscoe Dash and Travis Porter 1000 times as opposed to a regular club where you gotta play Biggie and Busta Rhymes, ya know what I mean? I’m in the A baby, niggas wanna get to it, they wanna ball! Shouts out to all the DJs doing it, the pioneers and all.
BE Magazine: Definitely. We know the Core DJs are doing it here this weekend.
X-Rated: Shout out to Tony Neal and the whole crew over there! We had an event at Pin Ups on Wednesday night and all the DJs came!
BE Magazine: Who are some the artists that excite you? Who’s next?
X-Rated: We got an artist named AKA Shawn that’s hot. She’s tearing em up. Bobby Creekwater‘s back. He’s got some hot shit. Travis Porter. We’re real excited about them. Roscoe Dash. All the A-town artists are phenomenal. But it all starts with everybody working with each other.
For more on DJX-Rated, visit DJX-Rated.com
DJ BIG X
BE Magazine: Tell us what you do with the Coalition?
Big X: I organize. I make sure everyone is on point. I am one of the founders of the Coalition.
BE Magazine: We definitely big up that! How did you get started?
Big X: Well I been knowing DJ Funky since he got started. Then through Funky, I met X-Rated. Then I met DJ Nando at club Onyx. And just from knowing them and knowing they each had their crowds. And I figured the best way to make sure new independent artists got their music put on was the put these guys together in a coalition. So for the first 2 years, we grinded – me, Funky, X-Rated, and Nando. We have known each other for 5-10 years.
BE Magazine: Who was your inspiration?
Big X: Im an old school cat. My inspiration is like Grandmaster Flash, Afrika Bambaataa, Jazzy Jeff, Cash Money. The real DJs that made an impact on DJing.
BE Magazine: Tell me your perspective on why DJs are so important to an artist.
Big X: Well without the DJ there isn’t an artist. Especially in rap. Before rappers was rapping, the DJ had to give the mic to the artist. Without a DJ being able to play your record, besides the internet how can you record be heard? To have someone play your record and have an artist get a feel for your record as opposed to playing music on 6-inch [computer speakers], feel me?
BE Magazine: Break down how you feel when you hear something like bloggers being the new DJs.
Big X: Well I like the fact that we use Serato [DJ mixing software], especially because my back has gotten a lot better. I don’t feel any kind of way about it to be honest with you. Everybody can be a DJ but it takes a great ear to be a great DJ. None of these DJs didn’t have to buy records, or have to carry them. It definitely has changed a lot. I got a 5-6 inch hard drive with 30,000 songs. Nowadays things are becoming more accessible. But I do think it should go to people who are really skilled at this thing.
BE Magazine: What advice would you give upcoming DJs?
Big X: My biggest suggestion would be to really know the music. Not just the hottest music out but know the background. Know the skill. Learn the guitar, the bass. Those things help.