Illroots.com sat down with one of The DJ’s favorite DJs. Hit the jump for more…
About a year or so ago myself (Hallway) along with Pro’Verb and the entire Equinox Professional’s camp went down to the A3C Festival and ran into several characters along the way. Some of these people included one of the most talented individuals on the scene right now in Bobby Ray to Alien and Marijuana Jesus. You may recognize Alien as Bobby Ray’s insanely talented drummer. Yet the one person that may have had the biggest impact was the homie DJ Jelly. Ever since then he has been the one consistent person that would call me just to see how I was doing, beyond the music it is almost impossible to speak on the character of a person until you meet them. So I am pleased to introduce my friend DJ Jelly…..
illRoots.com: First off let me thank you for taking time out of your schedule and sitting down with me.
DJ Jelly: No problem my brother anytime.
illRoots.com: How did you get the name ‘Jelly’?
Jelly: I guess women think that I’m a sweet guy, no homo.
illRoots.com: What do you feel is your being contribution to music to date?
Jelly: Staying true to the artform of hip-hop and giving people a chance.
iR: What was your first encounter with the DJ and how did that influence on how you operate present day?
Jelly: I would say my first encounter was from a DJ back in St. Louis, Missouri back in the early 90’s by the name of Cutmaster K. He did alot of mixing and I was his roady so he was the guy that really influenced me in the beginning to really want to mess around with DJing.
iR: So you actually got your start in St. Louis?
Jelly: I got my name in Atlanta though. I came in the early 90’s and the timing was all right, you feel me?
iR: What was it in Atlanta at the time that attracted you to the music scene down there?
Jelly: I was going to college and I used to hang out in the strip clubs. Actually I got my first DJing job in Magic City. In fact BC that did “Whoomp There It” gave me my first job, I just kind of stubbled onto that and learned upon the way. Right before that gig I got a job interning at Bobby Brown’s studio. So all that shit kind of happened when I started college and started talking to people and stumbling into situations. At the time I didn’t know anything about Atlanta but I would drive through the hoods and investigate and find what was really going on with the people.
iR: So what were you going to school for?
Jelly: Art Education, I would have been teaching kids Art.
iR: So you finished your degree and everything?
Jelly: Yes Sir.
iR: So if you weren’t to become a DJ you would have been teaching kids Art.
Jelly: All Day [Laughs], Mr. Jelly.
iR: Tell me alittle bit about when you first started DJing, what made you a staple in the South as far as Hip-Hop music?
Jelly: I would say my association with people, just being friendly with everybody. Of course in the early 90’s when I got my start at V103 and Freaknik was jumpin off and me, MC Assault, and Big Oomp we all started our company’s together. Freaknik was poppin off here real hard and it just so happened that I was putting in work on the mixtapes with MC Assault and people were coming from all over to just get the tapes. MC Assault and I started at the Flea Markets, Green Briar Flea Market, Candle Road Flea Market, and Old Nation. So we started doing this and just getting it out everywhere and all that shit kind of hit at the same time. All the Freakniks were jumping off back-to-back, from 93′ to 94′ to 95′ real strong. Atlanta was changing and the music scene was developing at the time from Jermaine to Organized Noise. We knew each other because we would all be hanging out at the same clubs and everything. Outkast was just starting out and Lil’ Jon was spinning Reggae. Back then Lil’ Jon was known for spinning the best Reggae parties.
iR: Out of all your experiences from that time period, give me one that is unforgettable?
Jelly: In 95′ I threw a birthday party at the infamous 559 Club which is the equivalent to New York’s Paladium. I mean 559 Club was the gutterest just most ghetto place in Atlanta but all the artists came through there and I threw a Birthday Party. I had Scarface, Poor Righteous Teachers, Erick Sermon, Chris Lova Lova (Ludacris) and all the big name bass artists performed because Bass music was huge around that time.
iR: How do you feel the landscape has developed, especially in Atlanta, from then toward now?
Jelly: Now its like anything else that gets tarnished and over saturated, the quality isn’t great but the marketing side worked. Thats kind of the story of Hip-Hop right now, if it works marketing-wise than its a go regardless of the quality.
iR: What are some artists out of Atlanta that are up to your standards that you’ve noticed recently, that may not be in the mainstream spotlight?
Jelly: Thats not in the mainstream spotlight already? I don’t see anybody that is up to quality that isn’t in the mainstream right now, straight up. I think Jeezy and T.I. kind of carried that last torch where they were artists that could actually lead something more so than just being a one hit wonder or something thats in and out. They, to me, were all the different era’s of artists the actual last faces of those great era’s of music. New artists, don’t get me wrong, I like some artists such as Gucci [Mane], OJ [Da Juiceman], J Money. Yet those guys are just in the beginning stages of their careers if you look at it there was T.I. and Jeezy and then before that there was Lil’ Jon and Pastor Troy where these artists have libraries of material that had resounding effects on the city. Then you go back to the early days of Organized Noise, Lil’ Jon, and Oomp Camp where you had an experience in the city in the later 90’s. Now maybe Gucci, but before T.I. and Jeezy are worldwide they are real artists.
iR: What do you think attracts people to Gucci Mane?
Jelly: People like tragic shit, he beat a murder case and he talks about hustlin’ and who doesn’t want to come from bad to good? Its a mentality that alot of folks have and Gucci has his own lane. Thats the thing about Hip-Hop Soulja Boy and Gucci have created their own lanes but when you talk about Hip-Hop figures thats when you get into the T.I.’s and the Jeezy’s.
iR: You see that in the evolution of artists as well, and alot of these artists that your talking about have been given the time to evolve into what they are now. Now you see a deeper, more introspective side to these artists that may not have been as evident upon arrival.
Jelly: Ludacris as well, he is the most underrated artists in Hip-Hop and definitely in Atlanta, period. I think even with Luda he still has time to grow and as far as rhyme? There isn’t too many motherfuckers that can see him rhymin’, freestylin’, none of that shit. At least down in the south there is no one touching Luda on just a rapping tip besides maybe Andre 3000 and Bun B and maybe some others that are few and far between.
iR: Yea, thats true.
Jelly: I can still see Ludacris coming with some more music.
iR: He’s not really that old either, I think alot of times we see folks getting older and think that they need to automatically give up the limelight. This is a “Young Man’s game” but you have to look at this as a career and if your passionate about what you do and your making money off it? Then why stop? Its just some people get dated and don’t realize that they are dated and then they end up playing themselves.
Jelly: Yea that’s true.
iR: Also there seems to be a serious loss to of artists that do this for other reason’s than the monetary,not too say that making money off of this is a bad thing because you have to survive but making contributions back to the culture is just as important to the sustainability of that very culture.
Jelly: There is a big gap because people aren’t teaching each other. Veterans in the game aren’t teaching the game to the upcoming generation.
iR: Recently there have been a few interviews where people were asked what rappers were actually making money in the game right now, who is actually making money off of rapping in your opinion?
Jelly: It would have to be people like Em and Jay, besides they have other business ventures going on, but off their catalogue they have to be.
iR: How about rappers from the South?
Jelly: Besides Ludacris, Baby has to be making some serious money off of his catalogue.
iR: He has to be making money hand over fist because of Wayne’s success. I don’t think people give Baby enough credit for Wayne’s success as they should. I’ve never been a fan of Baby lyrically but his intuition and foresight to put the money behind Lil’ Wayne was pretty good.
Jelly: With Wayne’s following there isn’t really a clear separation of credit where they give Wayne alot of credit and not as much to Baby, yet at the end of the day Baby is making that money.
iR: As far as what you have going on right now, what should we look forward to?
Jelly: I’ve created a channel called AsTheWorldSpins.com and you can get alot of my classic mixtapes for download along with tons of information about what I’m doing currently and in the past. I also have show called Live At The Oomp Camp, where I interview everybody and they mother. People can kind of get an idea of whats going on in Atlanta from my show as well as learn about some of Atlanta’s past. You have to reach back to the youth and I’m using my channel as more of a forum where we have interviews from Beyonce to 9th Wonder. On the show we discuss everything from the business to everyday life. Last night I spoke with Pastor Troy and he spoke about how he’s not doing anymore majors. He’s selling 20 to 30,000 records and dropping on independent records and making 6 to 7 dollars a record. Kids have to understand that this is a business and its not “I’m out here with my chain and my jewelry”. I was over to Dro’s crib where we spoke about his shortcomings and when he got money and went crazy. We basically bring the reality to this industry and show people that these superstars are everyday motherfuckers. We had Lil’ Mama on the show a month or so back and she was dropping some shit and personally I wouldn’t have thought that she would have really dropped some knowledge at that level, so people can see that its a job.
iR: Normally the people who take this for the fame and fortunes don’t last very long without the business aspect.
Jelly: Exactly, the kids have to see that. I’m still an art teacher because I teach what I know.
iR: Well thank you sir for your time and I hope to see you in the “A” very soon.
Jelly: Anytime brother, and keep doing your thing online. I see illRoots and the whole movement, stay blessed.
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