You can always tell when DJ D9-3 is in a room. Whether it is his charismatic smile, eye-catching dance moves, or the turnt sounds coming from his turn tables, even a brief conversation will leave a lasting impression on you. For 1 hour and 22 minutes (I mean who’s counting?), Extendo Mag got the chance to chop it up with D9-3 where we discussed his humble beginnings, his love for Chicago and how he and Kap G plan to take over the world.
Extendo Mag: When did you first fall in love with music?
DJ D9-3: We gone have to take this back to the Lime Wire days *laughs*
When I was in like 7th or 8th grade and just started to get into the whole music thing, I was always that person that was up-to-date on the music. I watched all the music video shows like 106&Park, MTV Jams. I was also one of those people who would burn CD’s and sell them for $5.
EM: So who were some of your favorite artists growing up?
D9-3: Imma have to go with producers. It was always Pharell, Swizz Beats, Timbaland and Missy Elliot. Anytime they came on a song I was thirsty!
EM: Those artists made music and music videos worth coming home and watching. Now it’s like what happened? What do you think happened from then to now?
D9-3: The internet. If you think about it, when it came down to it, videos back in the day were actually directed. These days people feel like that if you can work a camera you can direct a video. Since that era started, nobody has legit been directing videos. The only people that you would see directing videos is people from back in that time. With the internet, Youtube, VEVO, you just got things you can upload videos to and you’re just going to take advantage of the situation– you’re going to go a cheaper route. When it came to directing videos you had to have a whole set. Now people are trying to go around that. It’s basically easier for them now — the internet basically took over. And that’s why 106&Park not here no more.
EM: So fun fact about you is that you know how to footwork, which is a special Chicago style of dance. How did you get into that?
D9-3: It’s crazy because I didn’t learn how to footwork until my senior year of high school *laughs*. I always wanted to learn, I just never had nobody to teach me. I just used to watch Wala Cam videos on Youtube and practice. I always wanted to go to Wala Cam battles, but my mama wasn’t going for the Westside so there was nothing I could do about it. *laughs* Then I met these two footworkers– one named Brendan who footworked with Goon Squad and another named Eric (known as Tempo) and they showed me some stuff, as well as a footworker named B. Rael.
I took what they showed me and applied my own style to it and it’s been history ever since. I just wanna keep the culture going because with me traveling and this whole music thing I have going on, I just wanna stay true to myself and true to my city and I just wanna showcase what my city is about. Everytime someone hears that I’m from Chicago and they automatically say oh Chiraq, oh ya’ll kill, ya’ll do this and its like… no boa.
EM: I saw you post on your Instagram a while back asking people to name what they think of when they think about Chicago. What are some of the things you think of?
D9-3: The food, footworking, and the night life. Even though the night life kinda switched up… for the better though.
EM: What do you mean by that?
D9-3: It’s a lot of places in Chicago that weren’t safe. They got shut down and it kind of forced people to move to different areas and apply themselves differently. We got dress codes now in certain spots and you not finna come in there with all that gang shit, you can’t just do what you wanna do; it’s a different establishment. Ya’ll gone come in here and drink and have a good time or ya’ll not gone come in here at all.
D9-3: Also the high schools. I feel like the high schools play a big part in what Chicago is. From the sports to the cultures of the schools, that’s what Chicago is.
EM: So tell me about coming to SIU and kind of solidifying this role as the most popular nigga in Carbondale
D9-3: *laughs* Man look…
EM: Well more importantly, how did you transition from just “Oh that’s Dorian” to “DJ D9-3”?
D9-3: *laughs* You know something? I’m still trying to figure that out! Like I’ve been kinda noticing it… When I first got here (Spring of 2012) I wasn’t DJ’ing like that. I was kicking it. I was just meeting people, going to parties and somehow got slowly known.
When I first started DJ’ing down here, I was just doing lil kickbacks for people I knew.
EM: So was DJ’ing something that you were always interested in?
D9-3: Nope. I had my own small lil turntables and I used to go out with one of my guys named DJ Money Hungry and he really wanted me to take it serious. After a while, he told me I would have to get my own shit cuz I couldn’t keep using his *laughs* So I got some real beginner equipment and made it work. I got those and brought it with me down to Carbondale and used them for small kickbacks.
I also have to give a lot of credit to Ryan Vickers for where I’m at. He heard me DJ’ing at a friend’s crib and knew of me. He would always tell me, “Bro its not much I can do for you right now but once I’m done doing what I’m doing I got you.”
At the time, I didn’t know what the fuck that meant. But if someone was to come to me now and say that, I would know exactly what they mean. So I was just like “Uhhh okay. Cool just keep me updated” *laughs*
So a few weeks later I went to they probate and saw him like “Heyyyy that’s Vick!”
The summer came and Vick hit me up like we (the Kappas) want you to DJ our first party of the summer. And that’s how I met the class of 2016. Then I started DJ’ing for every fraternity and every sorority out here and that’s how people began to know my face and name.
EM: What made you pick “DJ D9-3” as your DJ name?
D9-3: What’s crazy is that I started off with a name that was too dry and too typical for me. It was DJ D.Huff *laughs* and my last name was always used for the joke of something weak so I was like I don’t wanna use that. I started googling some stuff and watched this video on how to pick your DJ name. They said to pick something that means something to you but also sticks in people’s heads.
Then I realized that not too many DJ’s have numbers in their name, so I kept thinking of different numbers I could incorporate. So DJ D9-3 was born.
EM: So tell me a little bit about Live Young, your role and your journey with them for the past 4 years
D9-3: Imma try to tell you a little bit *laughs* cuz we’ve been through a lot, we trying to do a lot..
Live Young. We’ve transitioned so much. We’ve went from trying to just create the hottest parties on campus to having the Thirsty Thursdays to producing a concert with Tink and Katie Got Bandz and just making stuff happen for the campus.
I feel like we made our stamp, we’ve put our stamp on Carbondale. The whole SIU was rocking with us and we were able to reach out to the freshman everytime they came in and definitely had a reach on the upperclassmen as well. The support was there. I mean of course we’ve had situations where people were hating on us but it is what it is.
Hate is not going to stop us from doing what we have to do.
Now we have shifted gears completely. So much goes on in the night life now, its like nothing is promised. We are now attempting to host concerts but on a collegiate level. We’ve been at SIU for years and we see how the entertainment life is here, and I’m pretty sure its like that at other schools too. I’ve heard so many stories about how their campus/night life is dry because of certain restrictions such as funding. Universities really don’t like to fund for entertainment purposes. I think many Universities try to cater to parents and put on this image that they aren’t a party school BUT in real life, your child is coming to party and go to school.
So we want to provide an opportunity for students to enjoy entertainment on their campus so they won’t have to travel home to see your favorite artist and make everything affordable.
We wanna put together that once in a lifetime Live Young experience.
EM: How does it feel seeing somebody like Chance come from Chicago and put on for the city in such a major way and how does that inspire you as a DJ?
D9-3: It’s real inspirational seeing Chance do that type of stuff. I’m not trying to throw shade at him but we never see Kanye do what Chance is doing. For somebody that’s like my age do that is inspirational. Watching him has just been giving me ideas on what I can do for my city.
That’s really where my mind has been lately since I’ve been in Atlanta. It’s just giving me the ideas of what I can make happen in my city which is why I really wanna move back to Chicago and people are like “no you should stay” and I’m like NO. I got stuff I gotta do.
I’m not done with Chicago. I’m not finna be one of those people that gets on and leaves.
EM: What type of stuff do you wanna do?
D9-3: Really providing artist platforms and I’m really trying to figure out a way to bring Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc into this. The artist platform is going to be for me and Live Young, but I’m trying to figure out how to incorporate Sigma into the development of Chicago.
I won’t say too much in this interview but I will say that the artist platform will change Chicago in a few ways:
- The music
- How people are seen
- The way people see DJ’s
- The way people see up-coming artists
I just feel like its going to change the game completely and as long as we stay consistent with it, it’s going to open some eyes.
EM: Where did Kap G come from and how did ya’ll become the next up-and-coming super duo?
D9-3: Live Young collabed with a group called Urban Fetes and talked to the CEO Shannon Waldron and we were trying to figure out which artists to bring down to Hangar 9. Luckily, he was at the A3C Music Festival in Atlanta and I had thought about Kap G cuz he was in the movie DOPE and actually does great music.
So I told him, let’s get Kap G and ironically he had JUST gotten Kap and his manager’s contact info which was perfect.
EM: So you just went out on a limb?
D9-3: Basically. It’s crazy because I didn’t know if anybody in Carbondale had heard of him but I listened to his music and said he’s dope as hell and he’s gonna go somewhere.
So he came and performed and I DJ’d his set and I was just vibing with him while he was performing. Afterwards I talked to Shannon and asked his manager if he had an official DJ. Shannon wasn’t too sure, so he set up a group text between me, Shannon, and Kap’s manager named Juan who is also his brother. I started to talking to Juan about the whole DJ thing and how I was in college but would be done soon which meant that I would have more time to dedicate to being Kap G’s DJ.
He took it into consideration and offered me the opportunity to come on tour with them on Curren$y’s tour in November 2015.
EM: What pushed you to finish school? Because most people would’ve dropped out.
D9-3: You want an honest answer?
D9-3: My mama. She was the main reason why I graduated. She would’ve fuckin killed me if I didn’t graduate *laughs* there would be no D9-3. And then with it being my senior year when I linked with Kap, I was like I’m not finna drop out and come back to this later. That’s like me getting to the finish line and walking off the track.
I appreciate Juan and Kap for understanding that I’m bout to graduate and they respected that decision for me wanting to get my degree and then take this thing full force.
I ain’t gone lie, I used to watch a LOT of people that I knew and that I followed who was around my same age, doing everything I wanted to do.
I used to question myself like damn, what the fuck am I doing? But I grew to realize that everybody’s path is different, so what they doing is going to be different than how I get it. When it’s gone come for me its gone come. All I have to do is take advantage of every opportunity and execute.
Execute has been my word for 2017. 2017 has been all about execution, and I been getting to it.
But yeah… I used to look at people and think I was moving too slow or I wasn’t making the right moves or I’m not doing enough. But everybody’s path is different and I can’t dwell on something somebody else is doing, we got different destinies.
This person could be DJ’ing different clubs and parties but I’m on the road with an artist. I’m not finna complain about that! *laughs* and just being on the road with an artist is going to bring more opportunity to me as well — me and him.
Everybody who knows me knows that if I’m winning, you winning. I’ve never been a selfish person, I’ve never been a cocky person.
EM: What do you think sets you apart from other DJ’s?
D9-3: Dancing and being a people person. A lot of DJ’s I know don’t like talking to people while they’re DJ’ing, a lot of them don’t dance like that. I’m not trying to say I’m more turnt than them…. but I might be! *laughs*
EM: Prior to graduating college last spring and going on tour, while in college you were a co-host of a radio show on campus, you joined a fraternity and still had your Live Young duties to perform on top of being booked every week. How did you manage all that?
D9-3: I really wish I could explain that shit *laughs* cuz I swear I ask myself that all the time. It was crazy but you just have to have that mindset to go for what you want. It’s all about plan and action really. If your plan goes accordingly you can get to where you wanna be.
EM: So your plans always went on the straight and narrow? Or were there some twists and turns?
D9-3: Of course you want things to go smoothly but its gone be some speed bumps, some potholes–CHICAGO potholes *laughs* but you gotta keep it as narrow as possible. That’s how I apply myself to a lot of things. Managing all those things was a LOT, but I made it work. I still managed to graduate with good grades and keep up with everything.
EM: So after you graduated, you went on another tour that Kap G was featured on for the summer and then moved back home to Chicago. What was it like moving back home after being away for like 4 years and trying to transition into Chicago night life?
D9-3: It was kinda weird at first, but some of the promoters I worked with in Carbondale happened to be SIU Alumni. They were able to give me a platform which made it a little easier to somewhat break into the night life. But then I got to a point where I realized how Chicago operates as far as payments… and I wasn’t too fond of those situations. It took me a couple times to realize that this shit wasn’t gone change no time soon, no matter who you are. And I’m not for that at all.
I wasn’t going to sell myself short.
EM: It seemed like in 2016 you went through a series of transitions: You joined a fraternity, graduated college, moved back home to Chicago, tried to insert yourself into Chicago night life and then to top it all off, you moved to Atlanta where no close friends or family were around you. How did you do that?
D9-3: I ain’t gone lie, it was just a leap of faith at that moment. Being around Kap, I know where he can go and I know what I can do to help him get to a higher point as well. It’s like you said, that DJ/Rapping duo? I feel like that’s where we’re gonna end up real soon.
By me moving to Atlanta, we were able to bond more, learn each other’s likes and dislikes and now we are producing shows. We not just performing no more, we are producing actual shows.
EM: So nobody ever taught you the business side to DJ’ing? How did you adjust to that as well?
D9-3: My cousin who passed away actually taught me. One of the most important things he ever taught me was to know your worth. He said a lot of people will try to get over on you but don’t sell yourself short. He actually told me to measure my worth.
EM: Measure? What did he mean by that?
D9-3: For example, I should always charge half of what I’m bringing out. If all DJ’s charged half of what we bring out, people would not book us *laughs*
EM: As far as equipment?
D9-3: Yes. So let’s say I bring out my controller and Mac Book out with me. That’s about $2,500 right there. So if I charged half of that, mogs would be like ummmmm we got such and such who can do that for $100. And I would be like okay, get em. You gone get what you pay for.
EM: So he basically taught you to never low ball yourself?
D9-3: Yup, which is why I stopped DJ’ing for the short time that I did before I moved to Atlanta.
EM: So the next big thing is that you’re on tour with Kap G again but this time with Chris Brown! How does that feel?
D9-3: Man look…. I never expected none of this shit to happen so soon *laughs* To think I used to watch this man’s videos when I was little to being on tour with him its crazy.
EM: So now you have transitioned into making beats now.. How did that come about?
D9-3: What’s crazy is that I’ve been wanting to do this longer than I’ve wanted to be a DJ. I used to beat on the tables in high school all day long while people were freestyling. We used to have whole sessions at lunch *laugh*
I tried to make beats in the past but I didn’t have the right education behind it or the right equipment. My friend Lamar showed me the ropes behind it, I saved up some money from a couple shows and then I bought a beat machine. When I got the beat machine, I made 5 beats in 2 weeks.
EM: What advice would you give these up and coming DJ’s? Are there any DJ’s that you mentor?
D9-3: I kind of mentor a couple DJ’s right now. I just tell people, especially SIU DJ’s that if ya’ll need something from me, don’t be scared to hit me up. Whether it’s access to music, a quick idea for a mix, a critique… just let me know.
I’m not the most perfect person or the best DJ in the world but I am good at what I do.
It ain’t shit to help the next person out, I wanna see everybody succeed. I wanna see everybody eat cuz that’s what Live Young is about, and that’s what I’m about.
The advice I would give though is 4 things:
- Know your worth
- Take advantage of every opportunity that you can
Crazy what a pair of turntables and dream can get you. Here at Extendo Mag we certainly salute DJ D9-3 and wish him nothing but the absolute best.
Keep up with DJ D9-3 on tour by following him on social media
Twitter | @ DeejayD9_3
Instagram | @ deejayd9_3
Snapchat | @ recklessd9_3
Kia Smith is a writer, blogger and social media extraordinaire. Find more of her thoughts over at kiasmithwrites.com and follow her on Twitter and Instagram @KiaSmithwrites.