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DJ Mo Beatz Interview

May 25, 2009

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DJ Mo Beatz was born in a box—a DJ-in-a-Box starter kit. At 15 years old Mo Beatz, then only know as Chris Elliott, took a $400 investment and turned it into a career with abundant paychecks and priceless experiences. Now the 22-year-old metro Detroiter has broken out of the box, and is turning out parties nationally and internationally—all while working with some of the hottest artists and companies today, such as Eminem’s Shade 45 satellite radio and G.O.O.D. Music signee Big Sean.

An inspiration to anyone with a dream, DJ Mo Beatz shares with MichiganHipHop how he got to live out his.

You could’ve wanted to be anything in the world. Why DJ?
When I was younger I played saxophone, clarinet, and the drums. And that was cool, but I wanted to manipulate the music in a different way. When I was in the eighth grade I had a teacher who was a DJ who would do parties in the gym. I was like, “Dang, I want to do that!” I already had an idea of how it all worked. I would listen to the radio and I could tell when they were going to play a different song. When they scratched I could tell what it was instantly. I could tell it was something I really wanted to do, and it really worked out.

Did your eighth grade teacher share his DJ skills with you?
Surprisingly, he didn’t know I was DJing until recently when I looked him up on Facebook. I didn’t start DJing until 10th grade of high school. I had to beg my mom for a year for the equipment. It wasn’t a cheap investment. But after asking for so long she finally gave it to me for Christmas. By that time the teacher had moved to New York. On Facebook I gave him the whole run down on what I’ve been doing and let him know he was the inspiration. He didn’t know back then but he knows now.

What was the equipment that your mother gave you for Christmas?
I had some Stanton Straight 80s: a “DJ-in-a-box”. It was about $400. It came with turntables, a mixer, headphones and needles. But I actually started buying records before I got my turntables.

What was your first paid DJing job?
It was a backyard party for these girls in my high school when I was about 16. Back then I had to rent speakers from a place that was way out in Waterford. My granddad took me to get the speakers then took me to the gig. It went smooth, especially for my first.

I didn’t just buy equipment and start doing parties. I was in my room for a straight year practicing because I knew my first impression would be my last. So if I came out to the party and sucked that was going to stick in people’s heads. So I got my stuff tight before I went out to the street and tried to do a party.

What equipment are you using now?
I have two pairs of Techniques 1200 and a Pioneer 707. The 1200 is a DJing standard. Eventually the equipment began paying for itself when I got money from the parties.

Explain your thought process when you’re putting together your program.
As far as radio (FM 98 WJLB), it depends on the time frame. My mix show is after the clubs let out on Saturday nights, so at that time I know people are still hype. I’m not going to do super slow old R Kelly music; I’m going to play some Soulja Boy and “Geeked Up”. Also, many of our listeners are mature females and females definitely control radio, so I play the Beyonce songs and things like that.

For the club, it depends on the crowd. I gauge what I play depending on who I’m playing for. I wouldn’t play the same thing I would at an urban 18 and up club for a party in the suburbs.
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Do you feel like you have the ability to hear music differently from those who aren’t musically gifted?
I think I do. If I hear a new song it takes 30 seconds or so to know if I’m feeling it. It’s hard to explain, but I have an ear for a lot of different things on a music tip.

So you might have supernatural abilities. What powers would you have if you were a superhero DJ?
[laughs] That’s crazy. I know one of my powers would be to clone and teleport myself so I can be at different places at the same time. Sometimes I get double-booked and can’t be in certain places I want to be. Or there are certain gigs out of town I want to make it to but I cant because I don’t have the time.

What DJs are your personal heroes or influences?
DJ Jazzy Jeff. A lot of people don’t know how cold he actually is as far as DJing. There’s another person called DJ Qbert. I don’t know how he is as far as parties, but with scratching he’s one of the coldest too.

What DJing jobs have you had that you are most proud of or had the most impact in furthering your career?
The one thing I can’t get out of my head is when I went overseas. I went to Doha, which is by Saudi Arabia. I DJ-ed a party and my boy was performing. It was crazy because they showed so much love. The party was packed out. We were on some celebrity stuff. They had my name and picture on the flier, and we had a car and hotel rooms. We went to the mall and these girls recognized me out there. They are really into West Coast music and Kanye and they really know what’s going on [in the U.S.].

Other memorable jobs were when I DJ-ed in Vegas for all star weekend and in Miami for Memorial weekend.

Have you ever had a job outside of music?
Yeah, but that was only for a year in eighth or ninth grade. I was a golf caddy and I worked for a uniform company for a lady at my church who gave me a summer job. After that, it was DJ mode. After 10th grade DJing was my job.

Are you in school right now?
Actually I took the last semester off at Eastern Michigan University because I went overseas. I’m majoring in Electronic Media and Film. It’s basically like Telecommunications. But I’m already going down the path I want to do so the degree is to fall back on.

How can the public become a part of the Mo Beatz experience? How can we find you?
First, I have to shout out www.DJMoBeatz.com and of course I’m on Twitter all day, every day.

I just started doing a Wednesday night gig at club Esko. I’ve been doing Tiki Bob’s in Pontiac for well over a year. I am now doing South Beach club on Fridays– I used to do Elysium. That’s how you can catch me. And I have to shout-out my Twitter once again. I’m always on there.

Ten years ago did you imagine yourself where you are now?
Not even. Initially when I started doing it I didn’t even know I could get paid for it or how much or that you could travel. I was just doing it because I loved music. After that doors started opening. I love doing what I’m doing and it’s paying off.

Ten years from now where do you hope to see yourself?
Probably even more established and doing more tours. I eventually would like to be the program director at a radio station. I would love for that to be my future.

You’ve been featured on satellite radio Shade 45. What was that experience like?
It was kind of crazy how that came about cause I came across a group page online for a show that’s a part of Shade 45 called “The All Out Show” with Lord Sear and Rude Jude. Rude Jude is from Pontiac, so I joined the group and sent Rude Jude a message like, “Yo, this is DJ MoBeatz. I’ve been on WJLB in Detroit, check out my mix I did from this past week. I’ve been wanting to do some stuff for Shade 45 because there’s been no DJs from Detroit repping [sic] on there. And Shade 45 is Eminem’s station, so how can there not be any DJs from his city?” He sent a message back saying, “Cool. I tried that with another DJ before but he sent some trash. Send me a little bit more and I’ll check it out and see if it’s good.”

So that night after I left the club at 2 o’clock in the morning I went home, hooked up all my equipment and recorded, and sent it to him. For a couple of days I had to stay on his head asking if he had checked it out. He told me he had and told me to call him. Then he told me to make the mix and told me the format. I made the mix and sent it in then told me when he was going to play it. After it played people were calling in like, “Ya’ll should to that every Friday. Get a ton of DJs in.” They liked the idea of an actual mix. Rude Jude told me I could do that once month, which is cool because it’s national exposure.

You also worked with T.I. on the Respect My Vote tour. How did you get that opportunity?
That came about from being in one place and meeting somebody, which led to other stuff. I was in LA the weekend of Video Music Awards to DJ a party for Lil Wayne, but it was cancelled. I stayed out there and I ended up linking up with cats. About a month later they hit me up saying, “We’ve got this Respect My Vote tour coming up. You want to roll?” I was like, “Yeah, let’s go!” And it just took off from there.

Who else have you worked with?
Gucci Mane, Soulja Boy, Dame Dash, Chris Brown…

When you’re not on the turntables what are you doing?
I’m usually eating, which I do lot, or sleeping because I’m usually up so late. Or I’m posting on-line or listening to and finding new music. I’m trying to do stuff on-line because what will separate me from other DJs is being out in the real world.

Does being DJ Mo Beatz add to your pimp status?
[laughs] I guess you can say so. Girls want to be a part of what I do, but I’m selective so I don’t put into that.

4 Comments »

  1. djzac says:

    nice interview. mobeatz seems like a cool guy. i am from metro detroit and have been saving up for some technics. i hope i’ll be in the same position as mobeatz is in 5-10 years.

    mobeatz, if you’re reading this, i want to be an apprentice of yours.. teach me the ropes

    hit me up:
    iammzacgmail.com

    May 27th, 2009 at 5:37 pm

  2. Anthony says:

    Hay Chris this is a cool interview I like the way you puting it out there just like it happen from day one stay grounded and keep it real like your doing I always tell your mom how proud I am of you

    June 4th, 2009 at 12:54 pm

  3. Anthony says:

    Here’s some I bet you didn’t know we are you two BIGGEST FANS keep puting it down kid

    June 4th, 2009 at 1:01 pm

  4. dj promo says:

    Dj mo beatz your interview was dope and i can relate to you on alot as far as wanting to be a program director for a radio.. it seem like the only thing i think about is being the best dj in the world.. i just want to take this time to say you mad dope and that i hope one day i could be were you @ in your career and work with you.. question tho.. am from california but i live in kentucky and am moving to chicago after december for college.. djing is my dream so what should i do to make a name for myself in the dj world??

    June 7th, 2009 at 10:35 pm

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