Q and A with DJ Self: Staying True to Form

Q&A with DJ Self

By Mary L. Datcher Defender Arts & Entertainment Editor

If you’re in the world of hip-hop and under 40, at some point in your budding adulthood you’ve experienced hearing DJ Self. The Nigerian-born Brooklyn native has toured with Mos Def, warming up fans around the globe.

He is a fixture on New York radio station Power 105.5 and recently joined the sixth season of VH1’s Love & Hip Hop, along with girlfriend Yorma Hernandez. It’s never a dull moment between the pair, which has increased his visibility among loyal show fans. Self’s clothing line, GWININ, allows him to expand his growing brand into the fashion arena.

With family connections in Chicago, he’s excited to be in town for a special event at the House of Blues on March 18. As the headline DJ, Self will be joining Chicago’s own, DJ Commando and WGCI’s Sean Mac for Society Chicago — a series of parties taking place around the country including New York, Memphis, Cleveland and Las Vegas.

The Chicago Defender had a chance to catch up with DJ Self on what drives him to be one of the leading DJs in the business.

Q: Self, what is your family background? You grew up in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, but what was your foundation?  


A: Family background is Nigerian. My family lives between Philadelphia and the West Side of Chicago. I have a cousin whose name is “Go-Getter.” she is an upcoming rapper based in Chicago. My foundation is Brooklyn, so I’m a Brooklyn boy at heart.


Q: Who influenced you musically growing up and how did it lead you to become a DJ?


A: My influence musically growing up is a laundry list of the greats; however, Puff Daddy or Diddy as he is known by now, and Mase piqued my interest to pursue becoming a DJ. I liked the music and beats Puff created.


Q: New York has a great deal of DJs, and the hustle was about mixtapes and getting on the radio back then. What separated you from the rest?


A: Hustle and drive will always separate me from the rest. I learned about hustling and building drive from my fellow colleagues — DJ Kid Capri and DJ Goldfinger.


QHow did you become Mos Def’s tour DJ?


A: Met a guy named Howie who suggested I check out an underground artist who happened to be Mos Def. I found out where he was performing in New York City and I went to check it out, introduced myself and when the opportunity presented itself, I was hired as his tour DJ.


QWhat are your top five attributes to success?


A: Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance.


Q: What kind of changes do you see in the music and radio business now versus when you started?


A: Lots of changes. Accessibility to music has changed because of music platforms such as SoundCloud, iTunes, Spinrilla, etc. There is a wider range of interest of nationalities and lots of crossover music, which were not as common years ago. There aren’t many boundaries or limitations for the genres of music, which makes it great for all artists to be true artists.


Q: How do you remain relevant?


A: The five P’s listed above plus promotion and knowledge of what’s hot and trendy. You can’t be relevant without hard work and dedication, as well as being knowledgeable about your craft.


Q: What do you spin on — equipment? Your headphones?


A: Nothing specific.


Q: What are your personal favorite songs that you reach back for when it’s just you — by yourself — no crowd?


A: Any and all of Tribe Called Quest albums.


Q: It’s not your first time in Chicago. As you prepare for the event at HOB on 3/18, what stands out for you when you spin here?


A: I love the city of Chicago. The diversity of the people, the strong culture of music, and every time I get with Sean Mac it’s monumental.


Q: Who are some of the new DJs on the scene whom you recognize and respect?


A:  I respect all DJs who are out every day and night grinding to make a name for themselves and study the art of music.


Q: How do you create balance for yourself in your personal and professional life?


A: Creating a balance is very hard personally and professionally, but I’m blessed to have a career in spinning the music I love.

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