Origin: Florida (By Way of Japan)
Currently Resides In: Tampa, Bay Florida
If you’ve ever heard a ‘Southern Smoke’ mixtape, then you know what to expect; some of the hottest hip-hop artists in the south masterfully blended into a bass driven, beat riding mash up. The enormous success of the Southern Smoke brand can be attributed to a man whose noted for breaking some of the biggest names in the industry like Chamillionaire and Drake. According to Uncle Luke, he’s ‘The Hottest Muthafuc**ng Mix DJ in the F**kin World’ and according to HipHopWired, DJ Smallz is more than qualified to be our ‘DJ Of The Week’. The man behind the music took some time to let the smoke clear and sat down with us to shed some light on his craft.
HipHopWired: You’re not originally from the states, I know you spent some time in Japan with your parents in the military. How did you transition from being a “military brat” to Mr. Southern Smoke?
DJ Smallz: That helped me to be honest. My parents were strict. I learned to be self disciplined and goal oriented because of them, which i has helped in my success in the music business. If you can last a couple years in this crazy industry, you’re doing something right. I don’t plan on leaving anytime soon
HipHopWired: When you were first starting out was it hard to be taken seriously? Did you feel that people were doubting you from the start based on your background? Why or why not?
DJ Smallz: I believe hip hop respects any background… we’re all attracted to the same thing – the music… doesn’t matter what color or race you are… i was more disrespected for being from the south. That was my biggest obstacle. For the longest the South was shi**ed on. When I came into the game, east coast music was very dominating as well as its DJs. But when I broke the door down, I came through running and haven’t turned my head back since.
HipHopWired: How did you get entrenched in the southern hip-hop movement?
DJ Smallz: Well even though i was born in Japan on a military base, i was raised in south Florida – the bottom. So the music was all around me and i enjoyed it. I played what i liked and that was southern hip hop music.
HipHopWired: Tell me a little about Southern Smoke’s background. It’s blossomed into something huge, but how did it start out? Where’d you get the concept for these mixtapes?
DJ Smallz: My head was really into school. I got a scholarship to college and everything. I was DJin’ as a hobby ever since middle school and I was ready to get my club game poppin in high school. The first southern smoke CD was really a demo for me to get into clubs. It was the hottest southern music put together, mixed by me. People passed the CD around in high school and clubs, word of mouth spread and one thing led to another. That’s how the southern smoke movement really began.
HipHopWired: Now I know you and Scream settled your beef so there’s no competition between you two but who do you feel in the DJ game is your biggest competition right now? Drama? Trauma?
DJ Smallz: I don’t have any competition in my lane. I’m on a path to do something totally different than any other DJ has gone. These DJs you mentioned are in their very late 20’s, early 30’s, they earned their stripes, they’ve paid their dues. I just turned 24 and to be mentioned in the same accord is very humbling. i represent the next generation of hip hop, watch me lead it to greatness.
HipHopWired: You’re well known for breaking artists like Chamillionaire, Yo Gotti, Drake, was there ever an artist that you passed up that someone else broke and you regret not putting them on?
DJ Smallz: Yes Young Jeezy… i remember when Coach (his manager at the time) had mailed me his latest album “Come Shop With Me” and wanted me to jump on a mixtape with him. I thought the album was ok and just let time pass, i never got back to him. A year later i heard the “trap or die” mixtape and Jeezy sounded totally different then the album i was sent… being in Florida i didnt see the movement people in Georgia saw at the time. I fu*ked up on that one (laughing).
HipHopWired: How’d you get up with Chamillianaire orignially?
DJ Smallz: I had heard his music through friends that lived in Texas and fell in love with his lyrics and flow, i called him up and said I want to start placing you on my Southern Smoke series and go hard with your music. Everyone saw the commercial appeal of Slim Thug, Mike Jones and Paul Wall out of Houston, but Chamillionaire didnt sound like any of those three, he was just doing his own thing, staying in his own lane, and doing him and i respected that. I just wanted to help out with his movement and make sure people that got a hold of my mixtapes got a chance to hear Chamillioanire and feel him the same way i did, so i just kept putting him on every mixtape i could. He signed his Universal deal months later, and the rest is history… him and T.I. were the only artists in the South with platinum albums that year.
HipHopWired: Who’s the next artist you’re pushing for? Who’s the next to break?
DJ Smallz: Independent artists on the rise in my opinion in no particular order… Belly (Toronto, Canada), Benz (Jackson, MS), Clete (West Palm Beach, FL), Young Cash (Jacksonville, FL), Big Hud (Dallas, TX), Ms. Honeysiccle (Oklahoma City, OK), Nite Ridaz (California) and Laws (Springhill, FL)
HipHopWired: As Mr. Southern Smoke, what’s your take on southern hip-hop? It’s arguably running the game right now? Why do you think that is?
DJ Smallz: Because people love our swag, our hits, and our lyricists (ludacris, lil’ wayne, andre 3000, etc)… its quite addicting don’t you think?
HipHopWired: Yes I do! (laughs) Will you work with East Coast or West Coast hip-hop artists? Where’s the West coast smoke or east coast smoke mixtape?
DJ Smallz: Of course, i don’t discriminate good music, and good music can be found anywhere… i just have a lot of love for the region i live in… and i gotta give the people what they want. At the end of the day, that’s my boss. The people dictate what they like. I’ve been workin with east and west coast artists as of late with my Fear Factor brand.
HipHopWired: Southern Smoke TV is blasting off and doing well…what’s next from you? Where’s the Southern Smoke compilation album?
DJ Smallz: It’s on the way… i’m not in a race to just drop something. I’ve always believed in quality over quantity, when i drop it will be historical.
HipHopWired: Tell me more about Fear Factor Music Group. I see you’ve got artists from all over the country how do you find and recruit them?
DJ Smallz: A lot of aspiring artists have impressed me lately, which is why I established Fear Factor Music Group, an artist development brand dedicated to breaking new music and new artists. Check out the website FearFactorMusic.com and listen to the next generation of talent in this music industry and if you’re the next artist to fear, shoot me a message with your contact info so I can check out your music.
HipHopWired: Why do you think you’re so well respected and when do you think you may have to give up your crown?
DJ Smallz: I just keep it real – with artists, producers, djs, fans… be you and do you, thats the only way i know!
HipHopWired: Do you have a Twitter, Myspace, website, you wanna give out to fans so they can keep up with you?
DJ Smallz: If you need to contact me for anything: mixtape hosting, beats, or breaking your music send me a message on DJsmallz.com – that’s the best way to get at me.
Top Ten Playlist:
1. Birdman feat. Drake & Lil’ Wayne – Money To Blow
2. Mullage Ft. Yo Gotti, Juvenile & Dorrough – Trickin’ (Remix)
3. Lil’ Wayne, Drake, Nicki Minaj, Young Money & Lloyd – Bedrock
4. Black feat. Kandi – Try It Out
5. Lil’ Boosie Feat. Young Jeezy & Webbie – Better Believe It
6. Yo Gotti Feat. Gucci Mane, Trina & Lil’ Boosie – 5 Star Bi*ch Remix
7. Gucci Mane Feat. Plies & Oj Da Juiceman – Wasted Remix
8. Triple C’s Feat. Rick Ross & Birdman- Go
9. Lil’ Wayne feat. Drake – My Darlin Baby
10. Hurricane Chris Feat. Mario & Plies – Headboard