DJ Skno is a veteran DJ with over 28 years in the game. This Ohio native went from being a preacher’s kid spinning his dad’s gospel records to a master of the turntables making him a member of the elite DJ group, the Core DJs. When he’s not working with his Core family, he’s expounding on entrepreneurial endeavors and working to keep Ohio Hip-Hop going strong. Skno, pronounced Skay-No, tells HipHopWired how his scandalous name stands for “Straight Knocking Ni**as Out” as well as what the midwest Hip-Hop scene is missing.
Origin: Dayton, Ohio
Current Location: Dayton, Ohio
Top Ten Playlist:
1.) Travis Porter – All The Way Turned up
2.) Yo Gotti – Standin In The Kitchen
HipHopWired: Let’s first talk about your name. I heard your name stands for straight knocking ni#@as out. *Laughs*
DJ Skno: *Laughs* Who told you that? Yeah, I used to be a nerd back in the day, glasses and all that. I’m a PK, preacher’s child, I wasn’t allowed to do a lot of stuff so I would sneak out and do the things, go to clubs and all that but people started saying I was scandalous, so that kind of made the name skno, but being a nerd a lot of people like to test you and I knew how to fight so I came up the acronym straight knocking n#@as out I just spelled it S-K-N-O in all caps.
HipHopWired: Okay, so you mean that literally and figuratively?
DJ Skno:Yeah, I don’t really put the straight knocking ni##as out out there like that but if I need to it can happen. To be professional I just keep the scandalous part of it.
HipHopWired: I heard you got started mixing gospel records, is that true?
DJ Skno:Another thing I used to sneak and do. My dad used to play his records on the comp0nent system that was in the living room and I learned how to scratch off the component system using the knobs and the volumes controls. I eventually broke it and I never told him, *laughs* it don’t work now but they still have it.
HipHopWired: How did you go from being a kid playing around mixing gospel records to mixing shows for Biggie and LL?
DJ Skno: Just staying persistent at what I like, I was actually told by my parents that I would never be a DJ they saw that I wanted to be in the hip hop game so much. I actually started out as a rapper before I even DJ’d.
HipHopWired: What was your rap name?
DJ Skno: Twelve G. I used to be with a group called Rocking Jim Masters, then I was with a group called Doctor Ease and the E Town Posse. I was Djing at that time, but eventually I switched over and became more serious into DJing.
HipHopWired: What made you want to switch over?
DJ Skno:I liked the music part of it so much, like actually building with the control of the music, seeing how people react when you play certain songs. When you perform you’re limited, like your performance is maybe 209 minutes to 40 minutes and then you’re gone. When you’re a DJ you rock the whole party. You basically have that control. I like that control.
HipHopWired: You’ve been around a long time then, how many years have you been Djing?
DJ Skno: About 28.
HipHopWired: Wow. When did you get started working with the Core Djs?
DJ Skno: I’ve been with the Core DJs for about four ½ years now, I used to be in a group called the Technicians. Actually Tony Neal and I were in the same group which wasn’t going the way we felt it should go so we both disbanded form that group and Toney Neal, DJ Finesse, DJ Quest, DJ impact and DJ Rip they all came up with the idea of the core DJs and after about a couple months eventually he invited me to join and I liked the way the direction it was going in and I’ve been a member ever since.
HipHopWired: Being that you’ve been DJing for 28 years, before you were a core DJ, what’s the big difference between working with a DJ crew and doing your own thing solo?
DJ Skno: A whole lot of networking. I can reach out to A DJ that’s across the state and we can work together we can get money together at events. If I’m in town in their city, I can hook up with them and they can lead me to spots I might not know of. If there’s any gigs in your city that we might want to make money at, it’s just a big network connection that we have. Also, you have that connection of being able to get music that you might not be able to get because you have no contact really with as many people in that market and when you have contact with the biggest DJs in that market you can get the music for that market, so say you have to visit that city, there’s no reason why you can’t rock a party there because you have a connect to a DJ that’s in that market also.
HipHopWired: Are you guys planning on doing a conference any time soon?
DJ Skno: Oh yeah, we do conferences every six months.
HipHopWired: When is the next one?
DJ Skno:It’s normally called the Core Retreat. This time we did the Core Weekend, which was put on fully by the Core DJs we had no outside help from any labels or anything, we did everything ourselves. That was actually last month.
HipHopWired: Okay, so let’s talk about the Midwest a little bit. The Midwest you guys have Cudi and Nelly, anyone else out there?
DJ Skno:We got quite a few local artists that are blowing up as far as on the hip hop side. Out of Dayton, you have Diamond Cut, Demarco, Grind Time Central. You have several artists form the Midwest, you have K Riley from Cincinnati, DT out of Cincinnati, we got Dustbo out of Indianapolis, it’s a lot of talent in the Midwest. The Midwest just needs to continue to have their own sound, without mimicking the South or the East coast just come out with our own sound. The Midwest really hasn’t branded the Midwest sound overall and I think that’s what needs to happen.
HipHopWired: How would you describe the Midwest sound?
DJ Skno: The Midwest sound I think is a little bit of, it’s kind of like all the areas mixed together but it’s own sound covering those sounds. I don’t know how to really explain it, we’re lyrical, so we like to move to so we won’t be as poppy or cartoonish sounding as some other markets would be, we just like to have fun. Everywhere has their little gutter sound, but the overall Midwest sound, we’re the home of funk music, so we like music. I just think we need to continue on with what we’re doing and somebody will break out of the market and then eventually pull others in.
HipHopWired: Are you still doing your thing with Tall Entertainment?
DJ Skno: Demarco is actually an artist under Tall Entertainment. I’ve been with Tall Entertainment with like 7 years now.
HipHopWired: Besides Demarco who else do you guys have coming out?
DJ Skno: Right now we’re looking at an artist from North Carolina, her name is little Keisha, but she lives in Dayton Ohio, so we’re looking at her right now. We’ve done quite a few songs, actually the single that he has out now called “Polish”, she’s on that song. It’s been on Shade 45 several times, and on the syndicated radio stations as well.
HipHopWired: Besides Tall Entertainment and working with your Core Family, are you doing anything else on the side, independently. Any Mixtapes?
DJ Skno: I won “2009 Best Mixtape DJ for Ohio” this year at the Hip-Hop awards. I’m like the DJ Drama in my group, most of the artists come to me to get their mixtapes done. I actually mix your mixtapes. If I say it’s a mix CD its not a compilation, the songs are actually blended or scratched together. I actually DJ, I don’t just put a DJ in front of my name. I have a big thing against that.
HipHopWired: So you’re against DJs that kind of play music and don’t really scratch?
DJ Skno: Well you don’t have to scratch but at least mix the songs together. Some songs can be put on the same tempo and they can blend together. The art of DJing, it’s an art to DJing, I should say, Each DJ is his own artist, no DJ should really sound alike. You know how they talk about the DJ should help the artist, well the DJ is an artist himself, that’s why DJ ‘s rock parties differently. There’s an art to what we’re doing, that is if you’re a real DJ. Now if you just in there pushing buttons and playing the songs that everybody hears, that’s cool, but don’t be mad if somebody comes in there and they mix it into a different sound and it’s the same song you did. You’re like, “how they do that?” They got the crowd reaction and they jumping on the floor aned when you do it and you play the song they ain’t moving. It’s an art to DJing and I actually learned form the beginning with the turntables, I didn’t start out with Serato like a lot of people do, and I still DJ with turntables.
HipHopWired: So you think that’s a problem?
DJ Skno: Anybody claims to be a DJ, they just go buy any DJ little kit and claim they’re DJ, throw some bombs over something or yell over it and they a DJ.
HipHopWired: Tell me more about the mixtapes you’re working on.
DJ Skno: I have a series of mixtapes, the name of the series is called “What The Streets Want.” I have a street series which is like regular songs from national artists just put together. And what I think is hot at that moment, or what I think will be hot because I like breaking new music and then I have what the streets want series which feature individual artists. The Clipse came to me and said they want a mix CD done and it’s all of their music, with no other artists on it.
HipHopWired: That’s what’s up. Well is there anything else you want to add in, any last words shout outs?
DJ Skno: Well I’m also in an organization which is an entertainment resource company called Raise The Bar, out Dayton Ohio. We do graphic design, studio engineering, photography. I also do graphic design, I’m starting a company called “Start Paying Attention Designs”which I actually I will launch in February. I’ve been testing it out and it’s been doing pretty good, fliers, CD covers, anything really. Basically I just want to shout out my core DJ family, and to the new DJs that’s coming up, make sure you learn the art of DJing before you claim you’re A DJ. Learn the music, learn where certain sounds come from or where certain new artists might get their sound from because a lot of artists are sampling sounds from back in the day. You can’t be a DJ and not know about the beginning of hip hop. Learn the culture.
HipHopWired: Do you have any contact info?
DJ Skno: Twitter.com/coredjskno or on my Face book at Facebook.com/coredjskno. Or on the core DJ web site, http://www.coredjs.com