DJ Aaries, the founder and brains behind the “Hood Hard DJs” is a jack of all trades. Hailing originally from New York, New York, he quickly found himself rooted in the South and earned enough buzz to land several gigs on BET’s Rap City. After his numerous television appearances, he found his crew expanding to new numbers and ultimately reaching a new level. The winner of the 2009 Southeastern Award for ‘Impact DJ of the Year’ told HipHopWired who’s next to break, what it takes to be ‘Hood Hard’ and just how he earned his “Incredible Hulk” nickname.
Origin: New York, NY
Current Location: Atlanta, GA
Top Ten Playlist:
1.) Waka Flaka- Let’s Do It
2.) Plies- Becky
3.)Big Bank Black- Try It Out
4.) Facemask- Party Party Party
5.) Mykel Myers f/ OJ Da juiceman- Chop It
6.) Shawty Lo-ATLANTA
7.) Mario f/ Gucci Mane – Break Up
8.) Made In Atlanta- It’s a Go
9.) Travis Porter f/ Waka Flaka & Frenchie – Helltalmbout
10.) Vistoso Bosses- Delireous
HipHopWired: Tell me about how you really got your start. I know you really got into it in college but what motivated you to go out and buy some turntables.
DJ Aaries: If I had to narrow it down to one thing that made me say, I can be a DJ is when I realized a DJ was something worth being, more than someone who just plays music. It was when I saw my homeboy, DJ Shakim, he was DJing for bow wow and So So Def. I knew him since college and one day I was at a friend’s house and I was watching the BET awards and he was DJing for Bow Wow. I had just seen him the day before at the store and I was like, “Hold on, that’s my boy!” I forgot who was there, I was just like, “That’s my home boy right there!”
HipHopWired: So with your name I assume you’re aeries. But where does the Incredible Hulk part come in?
DJ Aaries: You’re gonna be the first person to actually put this out there. *Laughs*
It actually happened by accident. I was doing college parties and when I first got started DJing, I had to do this party at Charleston, South Carolina. They had me and 4 other DJs, they had the Youngbloodz, E Dub, they had the “Wooty” song, that’s where I met him. There were a lot of people there. So what happened was all of us were rotating, so we would DJ for an hour and then the next DJ would come in. They couldn’t remember my name so they remembered me as the dude who drank the drink, The Incredible Hulk. That was when everybody’s song had the Incredible Hulk in it. That night they started saying, “Aye Hulk, it’s your turn to spin.” The next day I got back to school and there was a party with a flyer that had the incredible hulk on it. Everyone went to the party and then the next day they were asking me, yo where was you at? We thought you were gonna be at the party. So that happened three or four more times and then I just started running with it. I took it and ran with it and it worked. I just took it and personified it.
HipHopWired: So you won the Southern Entertainment Award for ‘Impact DJ of The Year,’ congratulations.
DJ Aaries: Preciate it.
HipHopWired: Tell me what it was like winning that award. What was that moment like for you?
DJ Aaries: I was just glad to be nominated. Even this year, I’m nominated for ‘#1 DJ in the South.’ I’ve been nominated for the past three years. My DJ crew, Hood Hard DJs, we’re nominated for DJ Crew of the Year and DJs in my crew are nominated. So for me being this guy from South Carolina that ain’t never win a Bingo game, I’ve never won anything! So to actually ‘ Impact DJ of the Year’, everyone was calling me saying congratulations cause I couldn’t even be at the awards. I DJ A-Town day every year and the awards got switched to the same day so I couldn’t go. I didn’t believe that I won, I thought maybe there was another DJ that won. So after that it was ride out season. It was real cool, I like winning but I still got a long way to go. That’s nowhere near where I’m bout to go.
HipHopWired: As the founder of the Hood Hard DJs, tell me about how you got started with that and expanded your DJ crew to 150 people.
DJ Aaries: Actually we’re at about 200. I never intended on doing the whole DJ crew thing. I was a part of another DJ crew but that didn’t work out.
HipHopWired: What crew is that?
DJ Aaries: Legion of Doom DJs. We’re still cool, I talk to Ray, I talk to Dre, Brad. I’m in Brad’s video. It’s just like when you’re a kid and you’re in your parent’s house and you don’t like certain rules, you get your own house. You don’t complain about it, so that’s what I did. I’ve always been cool with DJs, so when I left Legion of Doom, I saw so many DJs that I’ve been cool with, so for them it was a natural progression. I was doing events and one DJ would come out and then three or four would come out. Then they’d call me and say, “We need to start a DJ crew.” The Hood Hard DJ crew started out as my mixtapes, my mixtape series were the ‘Hood Hard’ mixtapes. What started happening is that so many DJs that I’m cool with were like, “Okay we’re gonna do this.” So instead of trying to get on, we just blow our own self up, find artists that are on deck, we find them, blow them up and do our thing. That’s our mission. It started being another DJ, another DJ and another DJ. Then I started going on Rap City. First it was two days, then it was five days, then it was another. So then I wanted some of my DJs on there, so I started sending them on. So more DJs started contacting me after seeing the show. It started from 1 DJ to 5 DJs to 30 DJs and it just started getting bigger and bigger. Evidently it was official because I had a conference; we do a conference every year called ‘Hood Hard Day.’ The first event at the Atrium was stupid, both sides were packed and we didn’t even do any radio promo. It was crazy! We had DJs from Africa. So we were like how are we gonna top that?! *Laughs* The next year we’re at the Holiday Inn Select. My DJ panel was me, Tony Neal the President of Core DJs, Kasper the President of Hittmen DJs, Bigga Rankin, O G Ron C, Kid Capri, French Ice, DJ T-Watts, DJ Judgmental and White Mike. This was only my second conference so needless to say, everything’s moving. A lot of people deal with us so I’m glad.
HipHopWired: What separates the Hood Hard DJs from other DJ crews like the Affiliates, like The Super Friends?
DJ Aaries: Well The Super Friends are based mostly up North. They play a lot of New York music, the Affiliates are the same way. For the most part they’re up north as well, some of them are down here. With us, we’re mainly in the Southeast, we’ve started to tap into overseas now. Our whole thing is we’re always looking for new music. Like Yung L.A. I found him off of a CD, he wasn’t even on a mixtape. He wasn’t with Grand Hu$tle yet. He had his song “Ain’t I” and he and his manager weren’t about to push that song.
HipHopWired: So you broke L.A.?
Not me, WE broke L.A. My crew broke L.A. They wanted to change, they said, “Hey we have a new single.” and I said “Naw, give me two months on this song.” Another song, V.I.C. Nobody heard of V.I.C. Souljaboy had just came out and when we got that record we met at a Moe’s restaurant, all of us. *Laughs* I said, “Just give me two months” and we were on it. I look for the artist that’s saying I wanna rap, I work hard and I’m a team player. I’ll say let’s do it.
HipHopWired: What’s the next record you’re looking to break?
DJ Aaries: Actually we just did a YouTube video for this rapper named L.T. Shawty Redd did the track. There’s another song by this guy named Eager, he has a song called “Michael Jordan.” Those two you can really look out for. There’s another girl named Toccara, she has a song with Young Dro. I can’t forget Nappy Roots. They have a new song with Anthony Hamilton and one called “Ridin.” Go to HoodHardDJs.com and check out nine or ten new tracks from them.
HipHopWired: I hear your appearances on Rap City inspired you to do Hood Hard TV. Tell me more about that.
DJ Aaries: Actually I started Hood Hard TV before I went Rap City about 3 years ago. We bring in different celebrities and industry people to give advice. The artists are broadcast through 15 different markets. So that’s a good look. We’ve had people like Don Vito, Lyfe Jennings, Wonder, almost everyone from Colli Park, Mac Bre Z, Lil Chukie with Wayne. That’s another artist we’re pushing for. They don’t just perform, they ask questions.
HipHopWired: What is the next mixtape y’all are looking to put out?
DJ Aaries: The next three mixtapes to definitely be looking for would be the Nappy Roots mixtape, I have a mixtape with Trick Daddy and one with Lil Chuckie.
HipHopWired: How’d you hook up with Trick?
DJ Aaries: One of my DJs in Florida. I always liked Trick Daddy, the Carolinas love Trick Daddy. Me and his manager actually just solidified that. I almost forgot my killer mixtape series, the boom shak a laka is green light city! My biggest mixtape will be a mixtape campaign with DJ Michael Watts, 5,000 Watts down there in Texas. That’s coming out around January. We’re gonna feature new artists out of Texas and of course I’ll reach up to the Carolinas but it’s mainly Atlanta and Texas. That’s gonna be STOOPID!
HipHopWired: Besides the mixtapes what’s next for you?
DJ Aaries: Really just looking for what’s new. We need new music, we need hot music. I just look for new stuff. I like the process of taking artists from ground zero looking up and they on TV.
HipHopWired: Okay, so what’s the best way to get in contact with you?
DJ Aaries: Well I’m addicted to Twitter, so the easiest way to get in contact with me is Twitter.com/DJAaries. HoodHardDJs.com, Myspace, Black Planet. If you Google me, about 100 pages will come up. I’m too easy to find.