DJ Hershey hails from Chicago, the windy city where the steppers keep stepping and where Hip-Hop and House collide. With a tenure in spinning enviable by most, this Chi city representative loves to entertain. When he's not spinning in Chicago, he's traveling to ATL where he's blessed the tables for the BET Hip-Hop awards and rocked parties with his unique take on music. This Chi city gem sat down with HipHopWired to tell us what he loves most about his craft and how a tragic incident changed his life as a DJ forever.
Current Location: Chicago
Top Ten Playlist:
1.) "I'm Good"- the Clipse
2.) "Run This Town"-Jay Z
3.) "Hottest in the Hood"-Red Cafe
4.)" Universal Mind Control"-Common
5.) "Flashing Lights"-Kanye West
7.) "Big Poppa"-Notorious B.I.G.
8.) "Get It In"-Omarion
9.) "Money Maker"-Ludacris
HipHopWired: Tell me how u got started DJing.
DJ Hershey: It was actually a hobby back in high school. I've always loved music, I was a percussionist. So I guess you can say I was the Nick Cannon of my era like in drumline. *laughs* That led me into party going which led me into DJing my senior year. From that point I started doing high school events and 18 and under clubs at that time. So then I started making a connection with the radio DJs and they kind of took me under their wing and took me further. So that's how I got started. A hobby gone wild.
HipHopWired: What made you want to pursue DJing rather than something else in music?
DJ Hershey: It actually kept me going, my love for music was first. It wasn't looking for a limelight type of situation. It's just the fact that you create music in so many ways and fashions. I love to entertain, I love to see people have fun. So if that's my duty and that's my job then I won't complain.
HipHopWired: Okay. So speaking of entertaining, tell me more about Windy City TV. Are you still doing that out there?
DJ Hershey: In different aspects yes I am. 'Windy City TV' came out in 2000 when the first era of internet shows came out. I'm still affiliated with them. The only thing we changed with the radio station has to do with the law that wants us to pay the artists to play their music.
HipHopWired: Oh so you're already doing that up there in Chicago?
DJ Hershey: Well they haven't done it yet...
HipHopWired: But they're working on it?
DJ Hershey: Yeah, well because of the tracking and everything. So for an independent radio station to get this much notoriety is big. We had to put the radio station on pause which led me to get into videos. So I created ''Backstage Live', and we do interviews.
HipHopWired: Who are some people that you've interviewed for 'Backstage Live'?
DJ Hershey: D4L, Bubba Sparxx…it wasn't just on the music aspect, we also interviewed comics. Whoever was on the scene in Chicago, we were the first to have it.
HipHopWired: Are you guys looking to do some more on that or is that on hold too?
DJ Hershey: I am actually looking to do more with that. The company, 'Windy City TV', they're actually going into movies so they're filming and they're doing independent films. Since it's the owner's visual, I have to wait till he's ready. I kind of kept it alive and going with my presence here. I still do my recording and filming so when they're ready and the movie's complete we'll be right back on.
HipHopWired: So are you still out DJing in clubs in the city?
DJ Hershey: Yes, I'm DJing all clubs, all around the city. I've been doing more traveling lately. I've been doing events in ATL….
HipHopWired: Oh okay, what kind of events down here?
DJ Hershey: I did the BET pre-party, a couple of years at the BET awards, I just recently did the Soul Train gifting suite. Then in a couple of weeks I'm doing the New Years Eve bus party. My PR is booking me for all these major events.
HipHopWired: Right, that's what's up. When you are back in Chicago and DJing in the club, what kind of music are they requesting. I know you guys had a big house music scene, is that still prevalent down there?
DJ Hershey: Oh yeah. Chicago's the birth music of house music, it's not going anywhere. House music has always been here. Just recently it re-birthed if you wanna call it that in the last couple of months. Simply because house was generated in the 80s if you were born back then, then when someone said house music you knew what they were talking about. It's crossing so many different generations right now so it's continuing. House isn't going anywhere. *Laughs*We're a fast city, so the fast music gotta come with it.
HipHopWired: *Laughs* Are you guys still stepping up there too?
DJ Hershey: Oh yeah, it's still big here. I'm actually doing the 20th anniversary of my DJing here on the 20 of this month. It's at Revelations night club and it's a stepping set.
HipHopWired: Now, you know stepping was really big for a while but it's since died down. Do you think it'll ever get back to that big national level again?
DJ Hershey: Well R. Kelly put a big campaign on stepping with “Step In the Name of Love” and that's what made it nationwide. Here in Chicago, it's big, it's huge. It's pretty much on the level of house music. Right now I'm currently working on bringing that aspect to Atlanta. It could be big again, why not. It's been in existence for years it's just changed names. It used to be cold walking, B-Bopping and now it's stepping. It's the same thing, it's just taking up more flair to it.
HipHopWired: Okay, so who are some big artists up there in Chicago we might not be familiar with down here?
DJ Hershey: Ben One is big out here. Everybody knows Jeremih, there are a few artists here…Jay Ivey is big, Jamisha Price, there are a few locals that are doing some big things. Far Sight is a Hip-Hop artist, he's good. Some of us DJs are putting them on our back.
HipHopWired: Cool. Back to you though, what do you think sets you apart from other DJs? What makes you different?
DJ Hershey: Good question, I'm glad you asked. *Laughs* I don't disrespect any DJ but my style, I wouldn't say is totally different but I like to entertain. I read the crowd, I'm not a battle DJ. My parties are continuous and my style is totally different. Instead of seeing me in a hat turned backwards, jersey type situation you'll see me in jeans or slacks and button-up, something real Diddy-ish. Like I'm about to perform.
HipHopWired: Right. *Laughs* Grown man status.
DJ Hershey: Exactly. I cater more towards the grown folks but I entertain the kids as well. I used to be the resident DJ at E-21 night club where we had the tragedy where we lost 21 people. So I was resident DJ for them for three years. That was a learning experience. If anything a lot of my name was established at that club, we had a lot of celebrities roll through there. That's where everybody knew me from but due to the tragedy and how everything went on it kind of enlightened me that the music has a lot to do with it. Music does have a powerful influence on everybody. If you got a couple of thugs in the club and you're playing shoot this, kill that, then they're gonna react….
HipHopWired: Tell me what exactly happened, I'm not familiar with that.
DJ Hershey: Fortunately I wasn't there that night, they asked me to come in but I stayed home with my daughter. I worked every day that week so I was trying to be like god that Sunday and I rested. *Laughs* Unfortunately what ended up happening from what I was told, a fight broke out. It was a combination of everything, there were the lights and the fog machine and at that time someone yelled that there was anthrax in the air….
DJ Hershey: So everybody was really nervous about that and if you're saying there's anthrax, there's gonna be a stampede. So from my understanding because I wasn't there, so many people were trying to get out the club through one door at the same time and then there are people at the door that wouldn't let them out….it wasn't a good mix. Unfortunately a lot of people lost that night were some of my friends. So that was a real terrible time for me and the families and the club owners.
HipHopWired: That's crazy.
DJ Hershey: It was crazy. So unfortunately that happened.
HipHopWired: So since that happened, it definitely has an impact on what you play?
DJ Hershey: Yes because it really, really shows that it impacts people. You never know what people go through throughout the day. I want people to come to the club to release that, not fight about it. So they can atleast not think about it for a couple of hours. It's more positive, it's more having fun, again it's a release.
HipHopWired: Right, so in your opinion, what do you think is the most beneficial thing about DJing? What do you get out of it?
DJ Hershey: Again, I love the reaction I get from the crowd. Being the first to hear something before it gets out on the street, meeting the artists and realziign that they're real people just like you. I love the music, it's my love for music.
HipHopWired: Okay, well do you have any last words? Any shoutouts?
DJ Hershey: JEHOVAH GOD for the blessings of life and touching his children through music, my daughter's Ashley and Kennedy, Kim Tumey my PR, Ursula Harris my entertainment Attorney,Chris Thicklin of Thickland
Photography, my Facebook family and fans, Atlanta and Chicago for holding
me down and HipHopWired.com