The prominent Decatur, GA native gave me a chat about his come up, the Southern Hip-Hop scene in the 90’s and if the South still needs to work for their respect.
Parlé: What’s up man, how’s your day going first and foremost?
DJ Scream: Uh, it’s cool, it’s raining and cold today, and it’s raining and cold yesterday. A couple days ago it was hot; a while back it was snowing so…uh Atlanta man, you know. A beautiful day in Atlanta I guess.
Parlé: I can dig it. So tell me, what does it take to become someone like you?
DJ Scream: I mean my situation, the story comes from a lot of hard word, determination, innovation, creativity, definitely prayer, being fortunate, having good people around me. I guess that would pretty much sum it up. Just having some good circumstances and the drive and determination to really accomplish something. Like what I do is for a purpose; some people just do what they do for no reason, or just for the money. But it’s a purpose behind what I’m doing. Besides just, keeping my lights on and everything…
Parlé: Has your drive changed from when you were DJing in college up to now?
DJ Scream: Yeah definitely. The more I accomplish the more I see other things that I can accomplish. If you look at the greats of any profession; sports, entertainment, anything. They don’t get content with any level of success, like they’re always looking to achieve more. And that’s how I am. I can just be content with what I achieve but why not make the sky the limit you know what I’m saying. So that’s the mind-frame that I’m always in.
Parlé: Right, right. One thing I like to ask a lot of people is ‘Where they got their name from…’ So where’d you get your DJ name??
DJ Scream: You know my name just kind of came, like um, I’m well known for mixtapes, but in high school and college like before I was really deep into mixtapes to be honest with you, I was more and always have been more of a party DJ. So I think it just kind of haphazardly came from—like some of my partners is saying ‘Ay you rocked it tonight, had girls screaming all night,’ this, that and the third so, I got a couple other names that I won’t mention, older DJ names, but that’s just the one that kind of stuck. It just fit me at the time, and it still does. Like I always try to bring good energy to what I do, whether it be tapes, radio, parties…whatever the case may be. I try to bring that energy that make people wanna yell, scream or just get enthused, you feel me?
Parlé: Yeah definitely. It’s funny I was watching ATL the other day too, so I’m trying to get into the same vibe that you have. It’s a little bit difficult because I’m from up here. But where are you from exactly in Atlanta?
DJ Scream: Decatur, which is like East of Atlanta, you know, the East Side of Atlanta as they say. And that’s just the home of some people you may or may not be familiar with, Ghetto Mafia, Kizzy Rock, they were big in the 90’s. Scrappy spent some time out there. I went to high school with Crime Mob.
DJ Scream: Trillville’s in that area, that was kind of like, the thing. When I said, I wanted to put myself on a bigger platform, I started looking at 106 and Park, and seeing people in high school on 106 and Park, I was like ‘Oh this is attainable,’ (laughing). You know what I’m saying, like, I can go somewhere, like Atlanta’s really the Mecca of this shit right now. That inspired me even more, just to see people that I was with in the skating rink with or, that was in my classroom actually on TV or on billboards. A lot of athletes, entertainers…
Parlé: Yeah and that’s where Gucci is from right? East Atlanta.
DJ Scream: Yeah of course, my business partner, Marcus Rippy, he actually went to elementary school with Gucci Mane. So like I said it’s a place that’s known for a lot of successful people, athletes and entertainers.
Parlé: Right, so basically everybody grew up with each other.
DJ Scream: Yeah! Yeah, everybody was familiar with each other; at least you could just see ‘em around or whatever.
Parlé: So it’s like, you would see the same people at the parties that you DJ at and stuff like that.
DJ Scream: Rightttt, exactly, exactly.
Parlé: Cool, cool…How has the music and culture in DJing changed for you, from coming up, through the 90’s to this point?
DJ Scream: Well…man, I’ve seen a lot change. To be honest with you, my interest in Hip-Hop began around ’89. For a year and a half, two years I lived in the Bronx. My parents had moved from Atlanta to New York so I got to see another world, I got to really see the purer forms of Hip-Hop, the B-Boys, the graffiti, the battles and all that shit so. I’ve seen it go from the conscious era to, the gangsta era, to the flashy era that Diddy kind of created, to; from the West Coast running it, to the South running it, and what I learned over time, and I definitely represent the South and I definitely represent Southern music, but I just learned over time that I’m just a fan of good music. Good Hip-Hop music and good music as a whole. I try to support that, embrace that, and just move with the times. There are a lot of things that come out that I might not be the biggest fan of but I understand that the youth is a big part of Hip-Hop to keep this tradition going. And I just try to embrace it. It’s better for the youth to be expressing themselves and putting out music, than to be out in the streets doing some other shit so…
DJ Scream: It’s progression man, I just been fortunate enough to stick around throughout the progression and to be a part of it, and I just embrace it all.
Parlé: And I don’t want to call you this, but do other people call you an “old head” at this point?
DJ Scream: You know, the craziest thing that happened man, it was BET weekend here, and I was doing a college night and I had a kid come up to me, I say “kid,” you know, maybe 18, 19, 20, but yeah I don’t know…He was like ‘Mannnn, man you rockin’, Scream, man, but you playin’ all that Old School shit man! Young Jeezy, all that T.I., that’s Old School!’ I was like ‘Man, old School is, MC Shan,’ like, what the fuck—but, I had to catch myself, like, they’re old school now. You feel me? Like some people’s first Rap album was a T.I., or Jeezy album, but we in a different age bracket now. So I wouldn’t say an “Old Head…” I got in, in like 1990, and did my history all the way back to Day One, saying ‘If I’m going to be a part of this, I want to know what I’m going to be a part of,’ so I had to know who, Kool Herc and Bambata are. I didn’t know who everybody was, you feel me being from Decatur. So I had to fill in as much as I missed, you feel me. If anybody sees my record collection, I have a record collection of about 30 to 40,000+ records. I don’t necessarily use them anymore, but I call myself more of a scholar, but I wouldn’t write myself off as the “old head” just yet, you know?
Parlé: Haha …And these are vinyl records!
DJ Scream: Yeah, yeah, yeah, nah I started off with two turntables and crates…
Parlé: That’s craaaazyyyy. This kind of reminds me of Juice right now, when they were going into the store and taking the cassettes and stuff like that.
DJ Scream: That was a bigggggggg influence, like Juice, like—When I saw Juice! That was it! I was like, ‘I don’t know how I’m gonna do that, but I’m gonna do it! That inspired a lot of people; like ‘Yo, I’m in!! I don’t know what he’s doing, but I fucks with it.’ There’s a lot of DJ’s who were inspired by Juice and Yo MTV Raps, so shouts out to them at the time.
Parlé: Definitely, definitely. Did you always want to be a DJ, or were you looking to go into Engineering seriously?
DJ Scream: Psssshhhhh. It was just an accomplishment thing, just ‘cause I kind of knew I could knock it out, but, I’m gonna be honest with you, my first love, since the age of 12, and I’ve been on turntables since the age of 12, was DJing. So, how was I gonna make it a career? I don’t know. But, if I could make it a career I knew I wanted to be, that DJ. I’m looking at Premier, Pete Rock on TV, and they’re DJing for artists, then I’m looking at Kid Capri, tearing it down at Def Comedy Jam, like that’ssss gotta be me. Like, ‘Please God! That’s gotta be me.’ That’s why I think, even through the ups and downs I always embrace it; all that I ask for, and a lot of people don’t actually get a chance to do what they love, for a living. So it’s a blessing.
Parlé: That’s true…Coming up, during the 90’s what was your lowest point, or the point where you had to sacrifice the most; and what was your highest point?
DJ Scream: For me, my parents didn’t really understand it, you know. They were like ‘You’re smart, you could be a doctor, or an engineer. Why are you not eating lunch at school and saving your pennies to buy records?’ I sacrificed that, and I wouldn’t eat lunch at school; I started selling mixtapes in middle school and high school just to support my record buying habit, and I wasn’t really an active DJ all the way then, you know, it wasn’t a profession back then; it was more of a hobby at the time, just all those types of sacrifices that a lot of DJ’s could feel me on man. It’s not like these days, getting music, you could go online, build up your music library and go DJing. For us, that wasn’t an option. We had to go buy vinyl, and it’s expensive. And you had 20 to 30 new records coming out a week. That was just that sacrifice but I love it. Every DJ that’s experienced that, at the end of the day that just made them a stronger DJ. It teaches you about finances too, and business as a whole. A DJ is a very, very, very, very, very good example of an entrepreneur.
Parlé: So does the coalition of DJ’s from that era get together and be like ‘Man, some of these kids really don’t know what we had to do,’ or ‘They don’t really know nothing about this stuff… ?’
DJ Scream: I try not to sound sour. A lot of us feel that way, but, technology is a gift and a curse. In any profession technology has made things easier for people. Like cell phones, e-mail blast programs. People probably had to write letters all day to reach people and market people, now you can do it in one click with an e-mail blast, so… I try not to sound sour about it, I just try to encourage the younger DJ’s that it’s a little different. Like I got in, in ’89 and went back to like ’80. It’s kind of hard to go from 2011, all the way back to ’80. But just do some type of research to know what you’re in and you’ll take it more seriously and have more pride in what you do because the DJ is the backbone of Hip-Hop. It’s the backbone of music period. It’s so important that you know what when you’re DJing, and you just take it seriously.
Parlé: Right, right…so what Ds did you learn from coming up?
DJ Scream: I was inspired by so many. From the Pete Rock’s the Premier’s the Jazzy Jeffs, the DJ Screw’s, the Magic Mike’s, the Michael Watts, (sighs), Kid Capri’s, like I was just inspired by all of them. They just inspired me, personally, as far as learning; I just created a situation where I just went into my own space, practicing until I invented me. And that helps me too, because, if you hear me I do things a little bit different, than other DJ’s might do them, regardless of what I do. So I can’t say I really learned from anybody. But of course, I was definitely inspired by numerous and numerous DJs.
Parlé: So you just had to find your own style in the midst of everyone else.
DJ Scream: Right. Exactly.
Parlé: And where did you find time to study, and DJ, while going to school at Tuskegee??
DJ Scream: When I first went to school at Tuskegee, my major as I always say, was engineering, and my minor, I guess, was DJing. My senior year, to be honest with you my major was Djing and my minor was Engineering (Laughing)… So like I said I did it, I achieved it, but my senior year, shouts to my partner DJ Caesar, we took the whole, college market by storm. Not just Tuskegee, but the surrounding areas too. Here we are doing four, five nights a week DJing, this is paying our tuition. So it kind of became priority. And I just grinded… I made sure, I was going to get out of there, I’m not going to bail, I’m going to get my degree, but I had already shifted to saying, I gotta pursue my dream, I gotta chase this, ‘cause this is starting to shape up for me.
Parlé: And that was at the point where you began to do radio shows and stuff like that right?
DJ Scream: Yeah, yeah, so that’s where the grind comes from. I was doing parties, and I was doing college radio. I hadn’t even started doing mixtapes yet. When you do radio and people listen, they always ask you ‘How can I get a copy of that,’ or ‘how can I get a copy of what you did?’ And that’s where your mixtape career is born. So I got back into doing mixtapes again, and just giving them to people, so they could listen to me all week long. And that’s when you created a genuine fan as a DJ, when they have a mixtape of you, and they can put you in, anytime they want to, hear your style, hear your voice, hear your brand. It’s the biggest kept secret for some DJ’s, who don’t do mixtapes. I advise them, even though it creates more competition, to do mixtapes man because people get to hear you, everywhere. Like people be like, ‘I went back to Detroit, and put the whole hood on DJ Scream,’ or ‘I went back to LA, and put the whole hood on DJ Scream so…
DJ Scream: It’s a beautiful thing.
Parlé: It’s like people claim you in different areas and stuff like that.
DJ Scream: Right, right, right, right. And it makes you more of a natural brand than a local.
Parlé: So did you find doing mixtapes as fun as doing parties?
DJ Scream: Yeahhhh, I fell in love and became a mixtape junkie. At the same time coming up man, I always, wherever I had to go to, would find the newest mixtape from Clue or, Whoo Kid, Screw. I always was a big mixtape fan. So what happened was, when people started listening to these tapes, and liking them, I was like ‘Well ok, let me take this a step further…’ By the time I got back to Atlanta, here you have this big city. I had left for four years for college, so now I’m back at home. It’s like nobody knows you, and Atlanta had grown so much. I said ‘You know, the quickest way to get myself known is going to have to be mixtapes.’ ‘Cause I can’t just go up to a club and say, ’Let me DJ.’ That’s not happening. The club owner isn’t going to let you in the club; the radio ain’t trying to let you in. They don’t know you; you’re nobody, so I just took it to the streets. One mixtape at a time man. And I would release a mixtape on Friday. And by Tuesday, they would hit me up like ‘Yeah this shit was jammin’ you aint got a new one?’
DJ Scream: I was like damn yo, what the fuck. What I did was, said ‘Ok, I’m going to meet the challenge. So I started doing tapes every week. For about a year stretch, I was dropping a mixtape every week. And it created such frenzy because I met the demand of the people, I met the demand of the retail, I just met the demand. Feel me? I was the supplier. That was a big part of my career too, really becoming stable in the mixtape game, and from that, people like D4L, Shawty Lo, and others reached out to do projects like, ‘Man, if we do a project with Scream that shit would be everywhere!’ That’s a big part of the story.
Parlé: You became like the Scarface of doing the mixtape thing.
DJ Scream: Yeah man, it’s a grind man, definitely a grind.
Parlé: So the first time you got rid of the crates and the turntables and somebody put this computer in front of you, what did you say to yourself?
DJ Scream: You know I fought it for so long, and so many of us fought it for so long, like ‘Nah, we need our records and we Keepin’ It Real,’ and this that and the third man. Like after paying so many airport fees and living in these crates; if you travel it’s different like, locally it was one thing. If you traveling on the plane and, one of your records may get lost man. I exhaled, once they said ‘Look, all of your music is on this computer, and you can still use turntables.’ When I actually started fucking with it, and like I said, I’m not trying to be sour… All I need is a computer, and I don’t need four, five, six, seven, eight, nine record crates, I’m with it! Salute the Serato!
Parlé: Hahahaha. That’s cool man, that’s cool. As far as you going to school and getting your degree, and starting your own business also, do you feel that people feel people from the South aren’t as intelligent as people from other parts of the United States or, wherever?
DJ Scream: It’s always a struggle man, being from the South, it’s always a struggle, always has been. I think we prove a lot of people wrong. We have a lot of great people that just came from the South. You have to definitely respect what Ludacris has done music-wise, and also in the community, and in business. T.I. and the Grand Hustle situation. You take it down to Miami and look at what Khaled is doing with his music situation. A lot of actors, actresses, business owners; I think that people get it now. You got your Jermaine Dupri’s, Dallas Austin’s, LaFace Records. And then there are a lot of other entrepreneurs doing great things for the South. So it’s an even playing field man, I don’t really think it’s about your region or where you’re from. There’s some great people from this area, the nation, and the world, you feel me? Hopefully people will get out of that mindset.
Parlé: Where do you see Hip-Hop and DJing going from this point on?
DJ Scream: Uh, it goes where we allow it to go, you know what I’m saying. I was looking—not to get to political, but I was looking at the State of the Union, with what Barack was talking about, and he was like ‘Our nation depends on what we create, and us creating jobs,’ and we get it, we need more jobs for people but we have to create new ways to employ people. ‘Nobody saw the Internet coming,’ that’s what he said, but that employs so many people so, as far as Hip-Hop goes it’s what we create. You know. Is someone going to create a new sound, is the Midwest going to step up to the plate and put out bigger records, or the West Coast…or whoever man. It’s what we create, and continue to create. We have to make new ways of satisfying people’s ears. That’s what it’s really about, it’s music. So, if we allow ourselves to get in the rut and everybody in the East Coast is trying to sound like Jay-Z, and everybody Down South is trying to sound like T.I., and everybody in the West Coast is trying to sound like Snoop, then we’ll just be stagnant. And it won’t be nothing, it would just be boring because that’s already been done. You sound like Jay-Z, Snoop or T.I. But you got to respect the people like the Drake’s the Nicki’s the Wayne’s; you know, the newer people, the Travis Porter’s, and so forth and so on, because they’re creating a new sound. And when you create a new sound to satisfy people’s ears, that’s how this shit keeps moving, you feel me?
Parlé: Right, right. So this is my last question for the day. I want you to take me to the years like ’93, in Atlanta, and just like, as detailed as possible, give me a scene of a club, or a house party where you were DJing at.
DJ Scream: I’m going to give you the scene of Freaknik, ’94, man. That was Atlanta at—(sighs) it was just beautiful man. You know, just everybody partying, I wasn’t really active, into DJing at that time, but just being out and seeing DJs. It was kind of like a reinvention of Hip-Hop Down South. Like DJs were plugging the light poles, everywhere, people dancing, college kids everywhere, just partying through the whole city like, women everywhere, people everywhere, concerts everywhere. I think ’94 or ’93, was, one of the only times B.I.G. and Pac was on the stage at the same time together at Freaknik, this was at the Atrium.
Parlé: Hahahahaha. Damn!
DJ Scream: You know what I’m saying…That was, the “Golden Era.” If there ever was a “Golden Era,” that was just—try not to live in the past, but that was as good as it gets man. ’94 Outkast, um, Freaknik…just, great man. Everybody rooting for the Atlanta Braves, the Braves was in the World Series and shit like that. Like, that’s what it was.
Parlé: That’s cool mannnn…It sounds like it was the best for real. But I really appreciate it man, it was truly, truly a pleasure to get to talk to you and I wish you the best with your future endeavors and everything man.
DJ Scream: I appreciate it, I appreciate it. Definitely want to let everybody know that about DJScreamTV.Com, and the Twitter’s wide open too, @DJScream on Twitter, and definitely salute to ya’ll for taking the time out, and showing interest, to interview me.
Parlé: No doubt!
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