Hailing from Baltimore Maryland is DJ Tay James, the man who’s the official DJ for the nation’s biggest teen sensation in years, Justin Bieber. Before trekking across the globe with this pop star, he studied under the likes of DJ Alizay and the late K-Swift who undoubtedly helped shape his skills and style. Although currently on the road, this Rockstar DJ took time out to tell HipHopWired about his D.C. takeover, how he landed the gig of a lifetime and how he did it without the help of the school that introduced him to the masses, Hampton University.
Origin: Baltimore, Maryland
Current Location: Various Locations (On The Road)
Top Ten Playlist:
Justin Bieber- One Time
Gucci Mane- Photo Shoot
Lil Wayne- Single
Duke/ Mark Jackson- A Million Girls
Jo Stunnah- Trap Star
Young Money- Bedrock
Blake Kelly- I’d Be Damned
Travis Porter- All The Way Turnt Up
Yung L.A.- White Boy Swag
Clipse- Popular Demand
HipHopWired: Tell me about how you got started DJing. How old were you?
DJ Tay James: I started when I was 12. I got my first DJ set when I was 12. I was watching MTV and I saw DJ Scribble DJing . So my brother really taught me how to do it. It was easy to get into DJing because of him.
HipHopWired: So tell me about your affiliation with DTLR. Do you still work through them?
DJ Tay James: Yeah. Well Unruly Productions had every DJ, K-Swift till she passed, Alizay…that’s like my mentor, .J. Claxton, Quicksilver, I was signed with all them. As far as DTLR goes, I was an intern for this company and I worked for free…did all types of stuff. Basically what they would do is if a label had a new artist I would DJ all their new stuff, like at a club. DTLR, that got more serious when I started school at Hampton, I got signed to Unruly, started doing DTLR in-stores. So if an artist had a tour to different stores I’d go and DJ for them.
HipHopWired: Okay, so you said Alizay’s your mentor. Tell me about how you met him.
DJ Tay James: I met him at Unruly, I knew about him. He was like a young DJ, I remember I used to listen to him when he was 19. He was like one of the only DJs to DJ on Friday and Saturday at two different clubs. He had both clubs at 19 and 20 and he was killing it.
HipHopWired: Let’s talk more about you DJing at Hampton. You were like the “go-to guy” at every event we had. How’d you get started working with the school?
DJ Tay James: The school really messed me up. I got banned from campus…..
HipHopWired: Wait, what?!….you got banned from campus?
DJ Tay James: Alright let me tell you what happened. I’m really not messing with any administration at Hampton. They straight threw me under the bus….but, I came for open house and in Baltimore I was doing a lot of DJing, so I had a mixtape at that time. So they didn’t know who I was but I decided to promote myself. So I let people know who I was, I did a couple parties…“You Got Served”, then I did like a legion. I did a bunch of mixtapes, over 2,000 passed out and over 200,000 downloads.
HipHopWired: So after we graduated, you moved on and now your Justin Bieber’s DJ. So how did you go from DJing at Hampton to being Justin Bieber’s DJ?
DJ Tay James: We didn’t even talk about D.C. I took over D.C. on the low. *laughs*
HipHopWired: *laughs* You took over D.C. on the low?
DJ Tay James: What?! D.C. was poppin, I had Love….
HipHopWired: I know, I know, you were DJing at Love….so you went from Hampton, to D.C., to Bieber.
DJ Tay James: Before Bieber I was in D.C. doing parties…I was not playing. Then I got a call. I think my friend DJ Boogie called me, he and I did a lot DJing at Hampton. So he moved to Atlanta and he told me this artist is looking for a DJ, so someone called him and referred me. So I just got a call and I was cool. I dropped everything I was doing. I found out on a Thursday, I left that Saturday. So I’ve been with him ever since.
HipHopWired: So were you worried though that people would, I don’t wanna say play you…but talk about you going from Hip-Hop to moving on to be a DJ for a pop artist?
DJ Tay James: They didn’t play me because he’s signed by Usher, he’s talented! They only play me because they’re not me. That’s why I feel like I’m not getting played, I expect that. I’m chilling, I think I’m in a good position.
HipHopWired: What’s your tour schedule like? Are you constantly on the road, or do you get breaks?
DJ Tay James: After London I went home for Thanksgiving for a couple days. We had a break for Christmas and News Years, and then now we’re in rehearsals. The tour is starting in February, maybe March.
HipHopWired: Okay. So besides Justin do you promote any other artists on the side?
DJ Tay James: On the side I do run a couple of other things. I have a blogspot page, Gradeacertified.net, I’m starting my own personal one where it’s a basic day-to-day website that keeps people updated on what I’m doing and if I have any new mixtapes or anything, my schedule. I promote my man Blake Kelly, he’s doing very well as far as blogs go. His mixtape got over 5,000 plus downloads, it’s been on Global Grind, The Smoking Section, so that’s basically what I’m doing as far as that. There’s other people too, Mark Jackson, my frat brother Yazid. As far as rappers, it’s Blake Kelly and Jo Stunnah. Those are two I’m really pushing for.
HipHopWired: Right. And then you’re still doing your mixtapes….
DJ Tay James: Yeah.
HipHopWired: Do you have one you’re working on now?
DJ Tay James: I actually just wrapped one up, it’s called the Breakup Mixtape and it’s hosted by Jeremih. It’s just a collection of all breakup songs.
HipHopWired: Okay. Well after you get done touring with Justin, then what’s next for you? Are you gonna try and get back into radio? Or back in the clubs?
DJ Tay James: I’m actually gonna try and get back in the clubs but DJing on the road looks like it’s gonna be around for a minute. *laughs* So I’m just trying to do my thing.
HipHopWired: Okay, so do you have any last words? Any shoutouts?
DJ Tay James: Shoutouts to the Rockstars, shoutout to Unruly, shoutout to Soundwave, shoutout to everybody, Alex, Michelle, everybody.
HipHopWired: Okay cool and for everybody out there that’s looking to get in contact with you….
DJ Tay James: DJTayJames@gmail.com, or my twitter page @djtayjames.