DJ Commish jumped into the world of DJing after spending his college days on the radio at St. John’s University. His DJing debut happened accidentally but his tenure in Hip-Hop for nearly a decade is no fluke. This Bronx born and bred mixer reflected with HipHopWired on how taking over the turn tables for a friend led to programming with over 2 million listeners and how Hip-Hop’s progressed from the years of Cash Money and No Limit to the new age of Gucci Mane and LMFAO.
Origin: The Bronx
Current Location: The Bronx
1. Trey Songz feat. Fabolous- “Say Aaah”
2. Lil Wayne, Drake, Nicki Minaj, Young Money & Lloyd- “Bedrock”
3) Yo Gotti Feat. Gucci Mane, Trina & Lil’ Boosie – 5 Star Bi**h Remix
4) Jay-Z feat. Alicia Keys – “Empire State Of Mind”
5) Jay-Z “On To The Next One”
6) DJ Khaled feat. Usher, Jeezy, Drake & Rick Ross- “Fed Up”
7. Clipse- “I’m Good”
8. Snoop Dogg feat. The Dream- “Gangsta Luv”
9.) Ludacris “How Low”
10) Gucci Mane feat. Lil Wayne, Birdman, & Jadakiss- “Wasted Remix”
HipHopWired: Let’s start from the beginning. Take me back to when you decided DJing was for you.
DJ Commish: That was nothing I really intended on doing. I started out doing radio, being a personality and doing sports. I was more of a sports broadcaster at St. Johns University where I went to school. I was the head of the Urban Music Department at St. Johns for up and coming DJs. I was hosting a party just trying to get my DJs featured and one of the guys had to go to the bathroom. He was mainly a reggae DJ and I always had a sense of what to play for hip-hop. He said, well I have to go to the bathroom; I need you to play a few records. So he gave me a crash course on how to use turn tables and how to play and he went to the bathroom, I played and the party continued.
HipHopWired: And that was it.
DJ Commish: That was it. He came back from the bathroom and saw that I had the crowd under control so he went to sleep while I finished out the party. We became resident DJs at the club after that day. The owners came up to us at the end of the night. So that’s how I started DJing. I had no records at the time, I had no equipment, I didn’t have anything.
HipHopWired: Right. How has being able to work with Red Alert and Goldfinger helped to influence you and your style?
DJ Commish: Well with Goldfinger, it’s funny. My first weekly in New York outside of college parties was at club Envy on Wednesdays. That was one of the biggest parties in the city at least hip-hop wise. I was downstairs, no-name guy along with another guy I went to school with and Lord Sear was with us. We were just playing records but Goldfinger was the headliner. So having to compete with him to keep a crowd on my floor; I wasn’t being advertised at all, people didn’t know my name, so having to compete with him was basically like learning how to play every week. So even though he didn’t sit me down and say, look here kid this is what you need to do, he taught me by leading by example. I in turn earned his respect by being able to do that.
Red Alert used to come down on a weekly basis and say what’s up to us. We were just some young college kids, he didn’t know who we were but we knew there was a legend in the building talking to us. So there was one day where I was having a bad night personally and I said something stupid off the cuff about how I was gonna quit DJing and Red ripped into me on that. *Laughs* He kind of let me have it. To this day I say thanks for letting me know that what I was doing was actually meaning something. He was just giving me those words of encouragement.
HipHopWired: So there’s no competition with any of you all?
DJ Commish: No. As far as Goldfinger and Red are considered, no it’s all love. Goldfinger actually guest DJ’ed at one of my Thursday parties about a week ago.
HipHiopWired: Now did you make a conscious effort not to be a part of a DJ crew or is that just the way things worked out?
DJ Commish: I didn’t make a conscious effort at the time. At first it wasn’t a conscious effort, I wanted to get with a crew but a lot of people thought I wasn’t ready. Not as far as my music is concerned but as far as my commitment toward being a DJ every day. I would say that that was in question. As far as playing music is concerned no one had any issues with that. I was never part of a DJ crew but they would always give me work. When I say “they” I’m talking about friends of the Union, X Factor at the time, people would always help me out. At that point I could understand it but now I feel like I don’t need to be part of a crew. I’m thinking about working with DJs, I actually am currently working with younger DJs but we’re not under the name of a crew.
HipHopWired: Who are these younger DJs you’re working with?
DJ Commish: DJ Prince is one of my radio partners for All City Live Radio. A lot of other guys, Correct, G Money, I just offer advice and trade work with them whenever I can just to help. You always wanna give back and see other people realize their dreams.
HipHopWired: Right. So with your tenure in the game, how have you really seen Hip-Hop change and grow? You’ve been in this business since 96’.
DJ Commish: Yeah, I started radio in ’96 and I started doing clubs in ’98. The game has changed dramatically, the industry has changed. In ’98 Cash Money was coming out, No Limit was huge. The south was really starting to come into its own. So in that aspect the business has changed dramatically. I think it’s more the business side now. The best way I can say it is that it’s de-regulated now. The record labels don’t have as much control now. They’re lost now more than ever which is kind of good because artists who do have money to invest in themselves can create their own label and create a fan base. Now it’s really about having fan bases. For DJs it’s always been that way and you’re seeing that more with artists now. That big machine’s not there like it used to be but for the right people it’s still there.
HipHopWired: Are you pleased with where it’s at right now? Or do you agree with Nas and think it’s really dead?
DJ Commish: I wouldn’t say that it’s dead. I would say that it’s changed and people have to change with the times. The way business is being done is different. You have to recognize what works for you as an artist and you have to find your niche. It’s more rewarding for some people who got opportunities for people who work hard. Now you see someone blowing up you say, okay they worked hard they’ve been around for a minute.
HipHopWired: Let’s switch gears for a second. Tell me more about your deal with Music Choice TV and give me a breakdown on the “MC Mixtape Channel.”
DJ Commish: “MC Mixtape” started on tax day, April 15 this year. It’s a 24 hour network that features DJs all day long and all night long. Each DJ does one hour sets. Actually we just started doing 30 minute sets, so I have a 30 minute set and a one hour set and there are different genres of music you can choose. I chose pop so that I could reach a different audience. I know I can play that, I’ve done it but on a national level people may not know that. I just wanted to do something a little different. It’s great, it’s on 44 million homes nationwide so it gives me that television exposure that I need and it’s an all around good product. You still get to play music the way you want to and the feedback has been wonderful for me.
HipHopWired: Who are the most popular pop artists that you play?
DJ Commish: You can play a Shakira, a Lady Gaga but then you could play a Gucci Mane “Wasted” and still be considered pop. I have that kind of freedom. Basically what it means by pop is that you have the freedom to play anything. I love having that, no restrictions whatsoever. I can play anything, in a one hour mix you may hear Taylor Swift, Drake, Nicki Minaj, you may hear LMFAO. I’m getting that feedback from people that they don’t know what I was going to play.
HipHopWired: So are there any artists you’re really pushing for right now? Anyone you’re trying to break?
DJ Commish: You know what I didn’t realize how powerful this music choice thing was. I’ll give you an example I started playing LMFAO, they had a song with Lil Jon called “Shots.” I started playing it in May and I went out to Vegas in June and I had never been out there. So I’m thinking it’s an electro hip-hop record it should be big in the clubs out there. I went to play out there, no one had that record. None of the DJS had it, none knew what it was and they’re coming up to me saying, did you produce this? This is great! And I’m telling them no, this is LMFAO featuring Lil Jon. That record really took off after that. That’s one of the records that I’ve actually seen a response like that. It’s cool, you just don’t know who’s listening. You have no idea who’s listening.
HipHopWired: So besides the Music Choice TV channel, what’s the next project you’re working on….any mixtapes?
DJ Commish: Well we’re going to set up WLIU live radio again. We had to leave the air in late summer because of contract issues but we’re starting back up December 20. It’s on ITunes radio and at the height of it before we had to leave we were up to 2 million listeners worldwide. That’s one of the main projects but I’m still doing clubs, I’m trying to branch out and do more in Connecticut. I have a hip-hop summit I’m going to be the featured DJ on November 20. Just mainly clubs, I’m going to start working on another. All my mixtapes are on my website DJCommish.com
HipHopWired: So that would be the best way to get in contact with you or do you have a Twitter or Myspace?
DJ Commish: Yeah Twitter.com/DJCommish, DJCommish.blogspot.com, they’re all linked to my website. That’s where you can find booking information and all my mixtapes.
HipHopWired: Is there anything else you want to add in?
DJ Commish: Definitely be on the lookout for “All City Live” which will be back very soon. We’ve got some big surprises coming up. We have a lot of guests lined up. I didn’t realize how important that show as to the industry until we left but we’re back now.