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Young Mase Interview

July 2, 2008

DJ Young Mase is essentially the heart of the Detroit street Hip Hop scene’s circulatory system—as much as everyone else works independently, they’re still connected to him. .After studying the game while working radio at Clear Channel for seven years, Mase left to build his own empire. And these days, that empire is fully intact: between being a member of The Aphilliates Music Group team with heavyweights like DJ Drama and DJ Don Cannon, serving as Obie Trice’s official DJ, and crafting street classics for everyone from D12 to Quest M.C.O.D.Y., he keeps a busy schedule. Last week, he started his Operation Young Mase campaign, in which he plans to release new music from some of the aforementioned artists every week. Fortunately, he had the time to sit down with MichiganHipHop to go into detail about his success, give advice on how the state’s Hip Hop scene can expand, and react to Jermaine Dupri’s “The DJ is dead” comments.

 

What kind of things did you learn when you were in radio, and how that helped your mixtape grind?
I don’t want to say anything bad about radio, but radio teaches you everything in the entertainment business. It teaches you how to deal with jealousy, it teaches you how to deal with politics. Radio just teaches you how to deal with everything, from A to Z. You never know what’s going to happen with radio. One day you could be working, and one day you don’t have a job. You see so many people leave and get fired, it’s amazing. Radio just helps you mold yourself for anything that you want to do outside. It doesn’t matter what job it is or what experience; radio taught me how to deal with different people and personalities. Not everybody’s a radio personality; people on the radio are somewhat acting sometimes. They’re not always friendly, they’re doing their job. When you deal with personalities and understand it and gain from it, then you’re good.

 

How would you compare the mixtape scene in Detroit to the scene in, for the sake of example, New York?
There’s no comparison from Detroit to New York. Music is a breeding ground in New York, that’s where it started. So you always have an emcee and a DJ doing things on a different level and with different expectations in New York. In Detroit, you haven’t had a major DJ or a major artist control everything. Em is here, but that’s it. We’ve got him, we’ve got Obie, we’ve got Royce, we’ve got D12. Those are national, international guys. But when you think about DJs from Detroit, name another DJ from Detroit that does anything on a national scale. You have DJs that tour, but if you’re talking mixtape DJing, you can’t name [anyone else]. There’s DJ Godfather, and there’s DJ Disco D, rest in peace. You have Juan Dixon, and you have some house DJs. But as far as mixtape DJs, you don’t get that.

Here, in Michigan, it’s a totally different ballgame. It’s a hustle. … The artists and the DJs are the same here. Everyone tries to work as their own individual, nobody works together. It is what it is; you have to make the best out a situation. If you can understand what you’re doing, and you have a purpose, and you want to do something, then you do it to the best of your ability. You try to make the best out of it. Those that just want to get by and be in the hood, and be hood stars, they stick around and they’re here for a long time. So when someone like me tries to come around and do things, it’s totally different. They never see things like this coming. They never see a DJ from Detroit try to shoot a music video to help promote other Detroit artists, they’ve never seen that before. I was the only person to do that. You have to think above and beyond Detroit if you want to make it. There’s no record labels here in Detroit, so we have to do things to propel ourselves to get to these bigger markets, and be noticed by bigger markets. That’s the biggest difference between Detroit and a New York, LA, or any other city. Detroit is a blue-collar city, so everybody works independently to try to get money. And there’s not a whole lot of money coming in the city, so you have to work extremely hard to get noticed at all times.

One problem that the city has always dealt with, from me talking to different artists, is a lack of unity. How do you think that can improve?
I can put 40 Detroit artists on a mixtape and do it as big as I possibly can, and shoot music videos, but at the end of the day, no one’s going to get together and build these concerts to really propel. It’s a lack of business sense, too. There’s a lot of good artists, there’s a lot of good management, and a lot of good people, but there’s always something missing from one person’s camp. There’s always a good marketing person that’s missing, or good management, or someone who really knows how to work with radio. Not everyone has all the keys to success in this city, so you really have to build a good team, and maybe go outside of the city and hire people. Here in Detroit, we only think one-minded, and that’s Detroit. So if you want to make it outside of Detroit, maybe you need to go out and hire someone else that’s there. Not saying we don’t have the best here, but very few here are doing things. So I hate to quit thinking that we need to stick together, but sometimes we need education from another source.

I was talking to Serch recently, and he was saying that a big issue is that artists here aren’t working with enough artists in other areas.
It’s not even artists working together. It’s just artists realizing what they have to do to make it. That’s it. Individuals that know what to do, do it. Individuals that know how to make it, make it. You look at Slum Village, Elzhi, Black Milk or Guilty Simpson, those guys are touring all the time. They’re not as strong in the hood of Detroit, but their albums are selling in all cities outside of Detroit and overseas, and on iTunes. Those are things that the average local artists in Detroit don’t think about doing. So when we think about being a better person, artist or DJ, that’s when we’ll be able to do it. It’s all about putting the keys together. You can be an individual artist ane make it in the city and be successful if you have the right keys; you don’t necessarily have to work with everybody. You have to look at what you have around you. People don’t want to work when people don’t want to work. You have to do what you have to do to make everything happen.

What artists from the D are you listening to?
I listen to everybody. I have to listen to everybody. Even if they don’t think I’m listening to ‘em, I’m listening to ‘em. I’m listening to anyone who gives me a CD that respects what I do. I can’t listen to everybody all the time, but I’m listening to everybody in the D, from A to Z. If they’re serious, then I’m listening to ‘em. Sometimes you don’t want to waste your time if they’re not serious. If you want to interview somebody, but they’re not serious, what’s the point of interviewing them? And sometimes, you have to actually see an artist work to believe them. You want to see what they do next. It’s not always about who’s hot and who’s not, sometimes it’s about who’s working right now. Me working with someone who’s working 24/7 fits better for me, because my name is out here more than anyone. For example, everyone knows DJ Young Mase, but he has a fan base that doesn’t know about me. Yet he’s in the streets, passing out CDs, and he’s constantly working. That’s going to benefit me more than someone who’s not working, even if does have a little name, because that person working is always going to have something to fall back on. He’s building his fan base now.

 

As a mixtape DJ, you’re a gauge of new talent. Who are three artists in the area who you’d say haven’t gotten on yet, but they have the potential to make it?
First off, Quest M.C.O.D.Y. Second, I’ma be biased no matter what; my producer/rapper Chanes, very talented under the radar artist. And Stretch Money, probably the most underrated rapper in the city, because he had one single that was ridiculous last year, but people really don’t know Stretch. And once you get to know him, you understand that he’s a real artist, with real talent, and he can, by far, have more success than anyone else here, because I think he has a little bit more lasting power as far as skills rapping. But most definitely everyone here can do it, [such as] K-Deezy. When you have the streets behind you, there’s nothing that can stop you.

 

Tell me about the video you were talking about earlier.
K-Deezy, Tone Tone and Stretch Money. It’s called “I’m Ready,” it was off of Detroit Takeover Vol. 3, my biggest mixtape. We shot a video for it. It was the three biggest street rappers in the city, we all got together and we shot a video. First DJ ever to shoot a video in Detroit.

I really didn’t want to do it. My partners convinced me to do it, because we had the opportunity to do it, and that’s how it went. I really did not want to do it. I’m more laid-back, I’m more behind the scenes, I like to work and push my product. It’s time where you have to make a decision to upgrade your career and make people know who you are. I’m out here doing mixtapes every week, and people don’t even know what I look like, ‘cause I’m so laid back and quiet outside of being on a mixtape. But we decided to do it. We’re close to 80,000 views right now on YouTube. … So you know, we’re trying to set a trend here. We’re going to try to shoot some more videos, and they’ll be bigger and better than what we did last year. Plus The Aphiliates are 110 percent behind me right now, shoutout to Johnathon “The Icon” Jelks of Aphilliates management, DJ Drama, Don Cannon, Trendsetta Sense, DJ Head.

 

How’d you link up with The Aphilliates?
Aphilliates Management’s Johnathan Jelks hit me up and asked me to come out to a couple of Aphilliates events out in Grand Rapids in the later part of 2007. From then, the work ethic and communication has been good. And it’s official, it’s been official for about three months now. So Willie The Kid’s mixtape Prince Among Thieves in stores, D12’s Return of the Dozen, first two Aphilliates mixtapes. Over 160,000 downloads on DatPiff.com of D12’s mixtape, so that tells you how strong D12 still is. Aphilliates stamp is on it, Young Mase stamp is on it, so our biggest thing is hitting the streets and hitting it hard.

What kind of influence have cats like Drama and Cannon had on your career, and what’s it like to be in their camp now?
It’s an honor, it’s amazing to be a part of The Aphilliates. When I first started checking out mixtapes and trying to study how mixtapes were, I heard a bunch of mixtapes and I was buying stuff, but the real reason I wanted to bust free and do some of this stuff was when I heard my first Aphilliates mixtape. It was Trendsetta Sense-hosted Killer Mike. I’m a fan of Killer Mike, so I bought the CD because it was Killer Mike, but I had never heard of The Aphilliates before. I’d heard of DJ Drama, but I wasn’t really familiar of the whole movement they had going on—the DJs in the camp, the web site, the Gangsta Grillz—and that brought me on. The way they did mixtapes is the way I wanted to do mixtapes. It goes from there. That mixtape set everything off for me. So now, it’s an honor being part of the movement and recreating myself as a mixtape DJ. I need to recreate myself in order for myself to grow, so that’s what I’m doing with The Aphilliates. Just growing and doing different things.

Recently, Jermaine Dupri released a video saying the DJ is dead. Have you seen that yet?
I haven’t heard it, and I don’t know what context it was in, so I’d have to see. It depends on what context he was putting it in. Maybe he was trying to energize some DJs, saying, “Come alive!” That’s what we want to do, we want to come alive this summer, we want to recognize what’s here. He may be calling out DJs, saying we aren’t doing enough. You’ve got to remember, Jermaine Dupri is a DJ. Jermaine Dupri is old school, too. You have to think of those SoSoDef weekends in Atlanta, and everything that Jermaine Dupri brought to the game. He might be calling out DJs saying, “You guys aren’t working hard enough. Let’s get this thing going.” Maybe he’s only seeing a few DJs do things, and maybe he’s not impressed. I’d have to see what he meant and see how he was. You can never be that successful and disrespect anybody that’s working hot, so I don’t think he’s taking shots at any mixtape DJs or DJs who work hard for their goals. But maybe he’s looking for something more intelligent from the DJs, like, “Let’s do something else.” What do you think?

To me, the way he was saying it sounded disrespectful. He sounded less like he was motivating, and more like he was dissing. But then again, anyone who’s doing their thing could look at it as motivation anyway.
It could be motivation. But I don’t know Jermaine Dupri, and Jermaine Dupri doesn’t know me. [laughs] I don’t take offense to what anyone says. I don’t take offense to what Lil Wayne says, I don’t take offense to what anyone says, because they’re saying it for a reason: that’s how they feel. You’ve got to respect how someone feels, you can’t let that bother you. Life goes on, who cares. You’ve got bills to pay as a mixtape DJ, and if you want to work hard and do it. But I can take it as, I’ma show Jermaine Dupri what’s up. As a mixtape DJ, every week, until he realizes that I’m working hard. … You don’t have to be bothered by anything else. You can take it either way. That’s just motivation, thanks for telling me.

You’re also Obie Trice’s official DJ. How did that happen?
Obie’s cool. Obie did a couple records for me for some mixtape stuff. We kicked it, we were cool, he had a couple tours lined up and he asked me to come through. I did, we had a good time and everything went smooth. He loved the energy I brought to the show, so everything’s official. All I want to do now is take advantage of that and promote Obie to the fullest in the best way I can. Just like I’m doing for Young Mase, I want to do for Obie, I want to do Chanes, I want to do for Quest M.C.O.D.Y. for the summer.

What would you say are your three favorite mixtapes that you’ve done, and why?
Detroit Takeover 3 is one of my favorite mixtapes, because that really took myself and Detroit mixtapes to another level. The first DJ to shoot a music video and have a single for a mixtape. It’s on MTV, a million downloads, all original music, no samples. … I have to say right now, Street Watch 3 in 2005. My third mixtape…it’s a growing process. Every time you hear your mixtape you grow. I still listen to my old mixtapes in my car, because it’s motivation to really get to enjoy what I was doing before instead of being so busy you don’t enjoy it. You have to take a step back and really enjoy what you’re doing. I like to listen to my old mixtapes from time to time, to remember this is where I came from, and this is how hard I worked to do this mixtape. It took me three months to do this mixtape, now it takes me two days to make a mixtape. You have to appreciate what you came from and all the hard work it came from.

Then I’d have to say the next mixtape to really stand out was Quest M.C.O.D.Y.’s ConQuest 3.0. Quest helped me break out of the speech barrier that I was having with my mixtapes. I was hosting, but I couldn’t get the emotion out of it. Quest helped me break that barrier, and really start using my lungs. Once that started happening, it was a wrap. Once I was able to relax and get into mixtape format, now it’s nothing. We go in the booth and do everything that we need to do.

 

8 Comments »

  1. Dj C4 says:

    definitely notice the hard work Young Mase has put in… keep it up big homie!

    July 2nd, 2008 at 10:01 pm

  2. MK says:

    810 TO 313, DEFINATLY LOOKIN FOR DAT YOUNG MASE MATERIAL. D12 MIX TAPE IS HOT

    July 7th, 2008 at 4:05 pm

  3. 313 chic says:

    Good interview!!!

    July 8th, 2008 at 9:51 am

  4. dj king david says:

    good interview, but i have to disagree with his view on other 313 mixtape djs. there are other deejays workin’ with “national artists”. dj butter and i recently dropped mix-cds w/ dip-set, and reggae legend jr. reid. i have done mixes for common, method man, and i have toured w/ wu-tang clan. i’ve also spun onstage for mc eiht, brand nubian, and black sheep. dj dez has toured worldwide, and dj butter has done cds w/ jadakiss, young jeezy, shortdawg, and tony yayo. i just don’t want people to think “other dj’s” are’n’t wprkin’, ’cause we are. united we stand’divided we fall… i luv detroit-dj king david-myspace.com/djkingdavid313

    July 8th, 2008 at 6:32 pm

  5. p.money bags says:

    i respect mases grind but until you heard p.money bags king of the crack rap vol.1 hosted by dj king david then we can talk about who got the best lyrical content and who out here working wit the best chance to go national next and far as working wit artists i got jt the bigga figga, proof of d12 r.i.p, eastside chedda boys malik, tuff tone, boneman and young famous plus my label mates the jonzes bank knot ent. http://www.myspace.com/mrbroham

    July 8th, 2008 at 7:01 pm

  6. stef says:

    detroit can do a movement but it requires everybody comin 2gether. check them out stretch money,k-will,amaru,moody,tone tone,k-deezy, and more

    July 9th, 2008 at 10:11 pm

  7. Jj says:

    this is the worst dj in detroit

    HEY YOUNG MASE KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT

    July 14th, 2008 at 1:37 pm

  8. Dolla Man says:

    How you charge to host a Mixtape?

    March 26th, 2009 at 11:21 am

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