At the age of 19, most young adults are barely thumbing through their possibilities with no clue as to what they’ll be doing next week, let alone for the rest of their lives.
But for D.C.’s DJ Young Music, the notion is immaterial.
“The first time I ever deejayed was at a concert,” explains the promising talent. “They threw me on the stage, and they said ‘Go’. It was you either fail or you make it look good, and I succeeded.”
It was at the tender age of 16 that his career would officially kick off, joining on as national tour DJ for Ginuwine. Three years later, it’s clear to see how he’s used the opportunity to catapult himself into the ultimate success story, fastening a few more accomplishments that include running his own record label, signing a worldwide distribution deal with eOne Entertainment, and appearing on tour with Chris Brown.
Lounged composedly in a hotel lobby in Downtown Atlanta, the young DJ and producer comfortably described his success with the resolution of an industry vet, and with good reason.
Fresh off of a deal with the Super Radio Network, the 19-year-old has become the youngest to sign a syndication deal with the 725-station strong network, bringing him to an estimated weekly audience of 30 million.
While it’s still early in DJ Young Music’s career, a mere glance at his past traced all the way up to this point lends an assured glimpse into his favorable future.
The Source: What made you want to get into music period?
DJ: Young Music: My grandfather was a DJ, so I always had music. That’s what made me gravitate towards music. Becoming DJ Young Music—I really didn’t pick that. It’s something that grew on me.
I was practicing day in and day out, you know. Then one day, I look up and I’m on tour with Ginuwine, from that I’m with Tank, Ginuwine, and Tyrese on tour.
Then you fast forward it and I’m with Chris Brown, the Migos, Fetty Wap, Omarion, and we’re on the One Hell of a Nite Tour.
Do you feel like you ever have a different sense of responsibility in those settings because of your age?
With me being the youngest to do most of the stuff that I do, I strive to prove a point.
I do stuff to prove to people that you can do it, too. It’s not one of those things that I do for myself. I do it to prove a point. I do it for the people that aren’t much younger or older than me. It’s like ‘If I can do it, why can’t you?’
What’s the drive?
The drive is me. Failure is not option. I’ve never known what it’s like to fail. I’ve never failed before, and I don’t plan on failing. That’s the drive: not to fail. The only way you can fail is if you don’t put in the work.
So, I’ve worked so hard that it’s 99.9% sure that I won’t fail at whatever I do. If I fail, it’s not just a bad look for me—it’s embarrassing for me. Everybody else is riding on my back. So, it’s like the lead dog in the pack falling.
Who are some people that you look to when creating music?
I really don’t look to anybody. Coming up, I saw myself advance and prosper. I looked at my achievements.
What do you gravitate towards more—the Hip-Hop or the R&B?
A mixture of both. When I was younger all I listened to was your Ginuwine, your Pretty Ricky, your B2K, your R. Kelly. So, starting off it was mostly R&B. As I got older, I gravitated to the Hip-Hop, and now we’re in 2016 and I don’t know what’s going on [he laughs]. It’s a bunch of mumbling and some hot beats.
But, it’s a mixture of both. Now, my eyes are wide open when it comes to R&B and slow jams. I’m pulling cuts from the 1980s, the early 2000s, stuff I never even heard of before.
I was born in 1996, I might put something on and I’m like ‘What is this?’, but it’s hot. It’s old to a lot of people, but it’s new to me. So, I get excited. It’s like when the new 21 Savage comes out.
How do you feel about, as far as Hip-Hop goes and R&B to a certain degree, the idea of escaping lyricism and vibes superseding all of it.
As far as that whole shift, I feel as if people are losing their creativity. You can cut on every artist and hear a little bit of the next artist in them. It’s the new odd artists—the new wave.
It’s like an odd wave that a couple of years ago everybody was going ‘this is trash’ and now it’s like only the weird people are the ones that are making it.
How does that affect the DJs and producers?
Now it’s easy to play songs because it’s all the same. Everything sounds the same and it’s like you already know that it’s a guaranteed ‘this right here is gonna set the party off’.
But, then it’s bad because it’s not like when you cut on that Usher “Bad”. It’s not that vibe. It’s just straight traps and guns. It’s missing positivity.
Does it get harder for you or easier to differentiate yourself as a DJ when everybody ends up playing the same thing?
It’s easy to separate myself because at the end of the day, every DJ can play the same songs, but you’re not going to play them the same way I play them, you won’t rock the party the same way I do it because it’s different.
Whatever I do is extremely different than the next person because, like I told you, I worked so hard not to fail. Most people won’t stay up all night to prepare themselves the day before or the day before that. So, everything I do is a process. You can go to a DJ Young Music party and it’s going to be turnt up from the first song to the end.
How does it feel though? To manage to control the whole mood of an entire room of thousands at a time?
It’s a lot of pressure because you know that at the end of the day, if what you’re doing is whack you’ve got 1000+ people just staring back at you. I’ve never been in the position where I’m deejaying and it’s dead.
But, I’ve seen people do it. So, I’m scared to death for that to happen to me. I want to make sure when you leave that you say, ‘Man I ain’t never been to a party like that. I’ve never seen anything like this.’
That’s what I create.
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