The Drama King: Kay Slay Speaks On Drake, The Industry, Beefs & More...
"Drake isn't on the album because they gave me the record and when it was time to clear the record, Universal was playing games."
"The industry killed the mix tape circuit. The industry really uses the mix tape circuit to test what record would hit. Before the internet got to the level it's at now, the mix tape and the DJ used to get paid to do promotional tapes. Now it's like the mix tapes are strictly for promotion and ain't nobody making money."
When die hard Hip-Hop fans hear the name Drama King, you automatically think of veteran DJ and Hot 97 personality DJ Kay Slay.
Peep The Interview After The Break As The Drama King Goes IN!!! [More]
After being the first DJ to broadcast the now infamous Jay-Z and Nas lyrical beef and hosting countless battles thereafter, threatening to slap your favorite DJ and being voted “Hip-Hop's One Man Ministry of Insults” by the New York Times, it is no secret why they call him “The Drama King.”
But these days it seems that Kay Slay is on a new mission in life.
After a six year hiatus on the mixtape scene, Kay Slay is back with his new album “More than Just a DJ” and sat down with Hip-Hopwired.com to explain his take on the industry, why he is more than just a DJ, what exactly is Straight Stuntin' and why people need to stop hating on Ray J.
Hip-Hop Wired: First things first, how did you get started as a DJ?
Kay Slay: Honestly, I [have] always liked music. I used to listen to my mom's old records back in the day and once I got a taste, I knew it was something that I wanted to get involved with. What really sealed the deal was when I did a house party for an older guy, named Rodney Wilson. He sat me down and told me, “Yo just change these records one by one.” I was too young to party with them, so I just sat there and when one record was going off, I [would] turn that component set down and when the next was ready to play I turned that one up; so that's really what gave me the knack for DJing.
Hip-Hop Wired: Of course, you're known as The Drama King for a reason. Out of all the beefs you've been a part of, which was your favorite?
Kay Slay: I think my favorite one to date all the way was the Jay-Z and Nas battle. I say that because it never got to the point where they were talking about hurting each other, they kept it Hip-Hop and that's what Hip-Hop is all about.
I don't want everybody to get it confused, I like Hip-Hop battles because that's what the culture is all about and that's what it's been about from day one. A little friendly competition is cool, but when they start talking about what they gonna do to each other's mothers and kids, I ain't with it.
Kay Slay Interviews Capone-N-Noreage On Hot 97
Hip-Hop Wired: It did bring back the essence of what Hip-Hop really was, but at the same time I think spawned a lot of the beefs for promotion. I think the battle was monumental, but the WWE beefs that we see these days where an artist has a beef with everybody, is getting a little redundant.
Kay Slay: True, true indeed. Some people are cut out to be battle rappers and that's what they do, but for the average person that feels like they have to diss this person to get on, it's not it.
Hip-Hop Wired: You have been a DJ in the game for a long time. When you started, the DJ was the party and the MC was there to promote the DJ. Over the years it seemed to evolve around the MC, now it's back to where the DJs are getting deals without the MC. What do you feel is a most important skill or tool that someone who is trying to become the next breakout DJ needs to possess?
Kay Slay: First things first, you have to know how to DJ outside of Serato, that's number one. Number two, the main thing that will get you through a door, is that you have to have a personality and have some kind of originality. You have to find your niche and stick to it, you can't emulate what somebody else is doing and expect to be respected as a top DJ. It's not going to happen; you'll be another nameless cat in the mix.
Hip-Hop Wired: It's interesting that you said you need to DJ without Serato, what do you feel about the new cats that just know how to mix with the CDs?
Kay Slay: I'm not knocking them because if you mix with the CDs it almost requires the same skill, almost as a turntable except the needle can't skip because there's no needle. At this point they have no choice because the record label stopped making vinyl, so either you're gonna mix with the CD or you're not gonna DJ. Serato is a little to the left of me, I say that because it's almost like you're contributing to the death of the DJ. In my opinion, if a guy can get his nephew, cousin, brother or anybody to sit there and punch the songs on the computer and just slide the cross fade in; you got a party.
Hip-Hop Wired: Out of Turntables and CD Mixing, which one is your favorite?
Kay Slay: I love two turntables and a mixer, no Serato over here at all.
Hip-Hop Wired: Growing up with vinyl and cassettes, then seeing the ushering in of the CD and digital download; in my opinion there is nothing like the sound of a vinyl. Vinyl to me just sounds a lot more….. it's hard to describe but I'm feeling you on that.
Kay Slay: It's authentic. It's truly authentic.
Hip-Hop Wired: Right. There's something real about that sound, I just love it and I kind of wish that we could have a little of both. I wish the record labels would still make vinyl for some of the classic records, because to have a dope DJ mix something like Mos Def's Black on Both Sides with Jay Z's Blueprint 3, would be ill.
Kay Slay: True indeed.
Kay Slay feat. Yo Gotti, Jim Jones & Busta Rhymes - "Blockstars"
Hip-Hop Wired: Let's touch on your album for a second. First I got to ask the question everybody wants to know, why isn't Drake on the album?
Kay Slay: Drake isn't on the album because they gave me the record and when it was time to clear the record, Universal was playing games. I guess between moving [their personnel] around, they were very busy because they never communicated with me. So after waiting for as long as I could, I had to take the record off the album because I was running out of time. End of the day, I put the record out and I promoted and pushed it. Once they stopped playing games, not Cash Money [records] but Universal [records], I had to move. At the end of the day, I like the kid's music but I'm not a heavy fan of his because I'm from the streets. I like that real street gutter spin, but he caters more to the ladies. I'm not saying I don't like him, I don't want to be misquoted, I'm just saying he's not one of my favorites. The core audience that I deal with won't care either way, you know what I'm saying.
Hip-Hop Wired: We all know that you are also an on air personality on [New York City's] Hot 97, so of course I'm sure you saw the Funk Master Flex video of Drake freestyling, while reading the rhymes off of his Blackberry; what's your take on that? I'm not picking on Drake, but a lot of artists nowadays are not freestyling.
Kay Slay: Freestyling is a double edged sword. I don't mind if somebody gets up here and they spitting and they got memorized bars that were pre-written. Because I'd rather somebody have a neat freestyle over a sloppy one. Because if you are on the radio and you can't spit, people want to turn it down, so honestly as I said I'm not really opposed to memorized bar; but I don't like reading papers or sidekicks or blackberries because to me it's almost like you a kid in class reading an essay.
Hip-Hop Wired: Your video for “Thug Love” with Ray J and Papoose is in heavy rotation, but a lot of people are torn with this track, because it is titled “Thug Love and features Ray J.
Kay Slay: I think that people sleep on Ray J because he's Brandy's little brother and he's on VH-1 with the ladies, but don't underestimate his ties, his connections, or who he's affiliated with. I actually got a DVD that I am going to release where people will see the footage of how Ray J really is and their jaw is gonna drop. I know him personally and if you see him on TV acting cool, he's entertaining y'all but that doesn't mean that that's how he is in real life. If ya'll know him, you know that he's from the west coast and if you remember back in the day, Suge Knight was shopping him at one point and I'm gonna leave it at that.
Hip-Hop Wired: As a DJ, what's your take on the record industry versus the mix tape circuit, because it's no secret that labels are taking a hit due to the downloads and things like that; but if we really examine it closely mix tapes are still making a killing in the streets and online?
Kay Slay: Really, the mix tape circuit is kind of dead right now. The industry killed the mix tape circuit. The industry really uses the mix tape circuit to test what record would hit. Before the internet got to the level it's at now, the mix tape and the DJ used to get paid to do promotional tapes. Now it's like the mix tapes are strictly for promotion and ain't nobody making money.
Hip-Hop Wired: That's crazy because from the outside looking in it looks like mix tapes are killing because look at Lil' Wayne with all the mix tapes he's released, and Redman who's released more mix tapes then he has major records. It looks like a lot of the big name artists or artists that are from the streets are releasing more mix tapes and getting paid, but I guess not.
Kay Slay: It just looks like that, how much [are the mix tapes] selling for right now, $3 dollars? You go to 125th street and you might get 10 [CDs] for $10[dollars], or some crazy Shyte like that. Forget about it. They free, they were just promotions.
Kay Slay feat. Ray-J, Maino, Papoose, & Red Cafe - "Thug Love"
Hip-Hop Wired: What do you think would be the best move for the industry to make to recover and regain the ability to sell records in the store, because we have big name artists that aren't even making platinum or their numbers are a bit skewed due to the fact that you can't count people that are downloading the album for free?
Kay Slay: The whole game right now is just geared towards the record industry making money. The artist ain't getting no money because of all the digital downloads. So all of the money that is made from the little bit of sales goes to the record labels. The game is crazy right now. I'm gonna be real, if you have something else going on for yourself you might as well quit rapping and get into the entertainment business, because there is no money here. The only way you are eating is if you are an A-class artist and you getting money doing shows and endorsements, other than that you ain't eating.
Hip-Hop Wired: You are most known for spinning out mix tapes and being on Hot 97, but you have also started a magazine, Straight Stunting. How did that idea come about?
Kay Slay: It was a matter of me knowing a lot of women. A lot of women used to come to me about different magazines and situations, but they were always telling me negative stories about this dude and that dude and about cats trying to tell them they had to do this and do that [to get in the magazine]. I really just noticed a lot of women that I knew were being taken advantage of. I knew that Hot 97 and the mix tape circuit was always predominantly for the males, but I never really had an avenue for the sisters, so I started Straight Stunting.
It's really an opportunity to give women that are trying to get in the mix a chance to shine. I got female DJs, female authors, I got Mickey Turner in there, female entrepreneurs, female actresses and, female rappers; that's what that platform is mainly for. It was important to me that we are sexual harassment free, half the girls in the magazine I have never met in person. If they call me from Mississippi, I don't say you got to fly to New York. I tell them to go to the closest photographer that you feel comfortable working with, tell him to send me some pictures of his work. If you look the part, stay right where you are and we'll shoot there, I ain't got to meet you.
Hip-Hop Wired: Now that you're in music and print, which hustle seems like it's hardest to get paper from? You said nobody is making money in the music industry, but the internet has really taken away from both, because a lot of people are talking about how the internet is taking away from the print magazines as well.
Kay Slay: Print is more beneficial because it's very expensive to bootleg a magazine. I don't have my magazine online. It would take a whole lot of time and effort [for a someone] to sit there and do all that work, to make a site, just to get it taken down. So the bootleg factor on a magazine is almost zero.
Hip-Hop Wired: Is it a webzine or is it a print magazine that we can find in stores. Because I saw a website…
Kay Slay: It's a print magazine. I do have a web site, but Straight Stuntin Magazine is a print magazine that consists of 250 and 300 pages. It is has High quality sheets, because it's a high quality magazine.
Hip-Hop Wired: What is the chain that you're using to distribute it and how can somebody outside the New York area get a copy of the magazine?
Kay Slay: I give them to distributors and they hit the local spots in the towns that I give to them. If you can't get it in your local town you can go to www.straightstuntinmagazine.com and you can order it form the web site. A lot of times I don't deal with certain distributors because the distribution game in the magazine industry is just as nasty as it is in music.
Hip-Hop Wired: What is the deal between you and Big Lou?
Kay Slay: I'm gonna keep it real short and sweet with Big Lou. I gave Big Lou an opportunity but Big Lou lied and had a deal with somebody else. I gotta cease and desist order that I must part ways with Big Lou and no longer play the music or affiliate with him or I'd find myself in court because he was already signed with somebody else. Everything Lou is saying is out of frustration, I ain't mad at him, that's what people say when they frustrated, on to the next one.
Hip-Hop Wired: Now what about Papoose, because of course Big Lou says you gave Papoose more shine, but in all actuality fans have been waiting for Papoose to drop and album for a while now. I read in an interview that you had stated that the reason why he hasn't dropped yet is because the labels were giving more shine to the down south artists. What's your take on that now?
Kay Slay: For the record, Papoose has dealt with me for seven years, he's almost like a little brother to me, so it's not just music. Anybody that accuses me of showing him more love to him…I am. He's signed to me, he's like a little brother to me and his wife is like my little sister. We all family over here, so yeah he's gonna get more love than anybody, because he's supposed to. In response to his album dropping, right now we just gearing up for a release and plan on hitting the streets again.
Hip-Hop Wired: You're a vet in the game, you've seen Hip-Hop go through a lot of changes. What's your opinion of the state of Hip-Hop overall because a lot of artists are blaming radio for the watered down and monotonous sound?
Kay Slay: Anyone that's blaming radio obviously doesn't know anything about the business. Where does radio get their music from… record labels. That means if you hear Rihanna playing 20 times a day, that's the record that the record label is pushing. The radio station plays the record that the record labels are promoting, so you cannot blame radio for the monotonous sound, blame the record labels. You want to hear more hard core street records or whatever, they need to get at the labels because radio is playing the music that record labels are putting out. It kills me because nobody ever stops to think realistically, people are so used to pointing the fingers and blaming somebody, that they aren't stopping and listening to what's being played.