HHD: You knew at a very young age that you wanted to DJ or that it appealed to you. What, at that time, about DJing drew you in? What made you want to do tht with your life?
DJJ: I knew from a very early age that I was sarcastic and very outspoken, so I didn’t want to be a MC. I could express my creativity through turntables. But, I didn’t know that I was wanting to be a DJ. It’s just something that I did. I just so happened to be a part of a hip hop culture. You have to understand that back then it didn’t exist at the level it is right now. I didn’t technically know because there was no one before me. There was no role model to where I could be, I want to be like her.
HHD: You’ve been instrumental in hip hop for a very long time. You’ve managed to build a long-lasting career in hip hop. You’ve managed throughout the changes to remain relevant. What do you think you’ve done that has enabled you to have that impact?
DJJ: I think I just made the right changes at the right time in terms of doing whatever was the move at the right time. I didn’t have a major blueprnt to follow. I’ve had management on and off throughout my entire career. But me, personally, I was just going off of the gut. Sometimes it pay off and sometimes you lose your whole pot.
HHD: You’ve DJed all around the world. What is your most memorable experience so far?
DJJ: My career is long-lasting, I got a couple. Some of the situations became one long blur. I can remember the first time I DJed in front of a crowd of over 10,000 people. It was with Sweet Tee, actually, and this was back in the 80’s like ’86, you know, ’87. I can remember that…being in the arena in front of 10,000 people. Another memorable moment was, or a memorable club, that showcased new artists I used to DJ at this place called The Muse. I’ve DJed for Biggie Smalls before he was popular. I would say my last memorable moment, the first time I’ve ever DJed on the radio for “Ladies Night”, Lil Kim and Foxxy Brown, they were friends at the time. They were at the station for the “Ladies Night” for the first night.
HHD: What role do you think the DJ plays in the career of a MC?
DJJ: These days a DJ doesn’t play as big of a part with these new artists and new MCs until they really start hitting that stage and understanding the importance of having a fly DJ. A DJ helps you get that money. They also can help you in guiding you and helping you understand what the DJs need musically. They are instrumental in pumping the music to the masses. If you want your shows to be hot; and a different point of view when you’re in there making music it would be good to have a DJ. They’re thinking from a different point of view. As far as an artist trying to get out there, they better understand that having the relationships with your local DJs and then broadening outside of that if you get to become a famous artist and start moving around, stay connected witht he DJs, in every state, in every nation. I can pick up my phone and speak to someone in Tokyo that’s a DJ or the number one DJ in Paris. Here I am, I’m from the Bronx and if you have a good relationship with me, and then I get on the phone and talk to two people you could become worldwide in 60 minutes.
HHD: Is it really feasible for an up and coming artist to have their own DJ?
DJJ: Back in the day when there were groups, it was the group. When you look at Sweet Tee and Jazzy Joyce, that was the group. They started out from ground zero and together got it cracking. Economically, you’re gonna have to do something because people need money. It’s an investment in your own career. If your hand is closed, nothing comes in and nothing goes out. If nothing goes out, nothing’s going to come back in. If you don’t want to make an investment in your own show segment of your career, then at some point you’re going to falter. All of your hard work is going to be in vain because of your selfishness. You gotta break up that pie. The key to it, is you gotta make a pie that’s worth something. A lot of those artists, they fighting over something that’s worth nothing.
HHD: I’m sure people send you songs all the time. When you’re getting this music and you hear a song that you want to spin at the club that night, what is it that you look for?
DJJ: Here we go back to investment. First of all, I look for quality. Just cause you got Pro Tools doesn’t mean you know how to do anything. You need for someone to professionally mix your record. And then, I look for content. After that I’m going to do my little investigation and find out if this artist is kind of set up on their own. And what I mean by set up, are they ready to be put into a situation so that they can handle the business end of it. You don’t want to propel someone out there to be a one-hit wonder. You try not to invest too much time and energy into artists or camps that are not business savvy and ready to go to the next phase. Do they have managment? Do they have internet presence? If I google that person’s name am I going to see articles, videos, something? That’s at least a stamp that they’re out there trudging on their own.
HHD: Do you think there’s a double standard for women in hip hop?
DJJ: For me, I never wanted to be considered a good female DJ. I just wanted to be a good DJ, period. No matter what my genitalia was. You have to take everything into consideration. The anser is yeah, they are much harder on women. But some women have annoying voices, you don’t want to hear them. Some of them are talented lyrically but aesthetically they’re not the greatest. Those are the things that are reality in terms of what’s on tv. I don’t have any problem in supporting a female artist as long as they’re good. Are they mean with that mic? Is there any female artist that you’ve experienced that can paint a picture within three or four words? Where are those women that are talented like that? If they’re out there the world will gravitate towards them. If it’s really good, it don’t matter.
HHD: For DJs looking to build a career as successful as yours what would your advice be to them?
DJJ: For me, I didn’t do anything else. I wasn’t a doctor and then DJed on the side. This is all I did and I leaped out on faith. You have to be brave to blow the dice. But, I will say this, if you want to be about it you have to be about it. Record yourselves as much as possible so that you can listen back to yourself and learn. There’s no one blueprint that works for everybody. Be creative on your self-exploitation. The rest is left on their talent.
HHD: Do you think age is important in hip hop?
DJJ: When you think of hip hop, the real essence of it is youthfully based. Old school rappers should perform at arenas so that those 35 and plus can go see them and enjoy them. I don’t think it should be an issue of this person should stop rapping. I feel like a lot of people and a lot of artists are sidelining and talk too much. They just want to have something to say. We hate on each other too much. At the end of the day, what I said about the women is the same with your age. You have to be good no matter what your age is. None of us could probably put a candle next to James Brown or Luther Vandross performing. So what? We hating on them? Would Trey Songz hate on Luther Vandross? No.
HHD: What is your definition of a hip hop diva?
DJJ: Someone who knows the culture and the history of rap music. They could wear some Air Force Ones or whatever one day but the next day the classic hip hop diva could have on Christian Loboutins with the red bottoms in her bag, be in a club that’s bourgeois, throwing up the Roc sign. She encompasses all of that. A hip hop diva can wear braids or have her weave. That’s a hip hop diva.
Check out DJ Jazzy Joyce’s show, “Last Call”, on New York City’s Hot 97 (WQHT) every other Friday 2am-4am.
Check out DJ Jazzy Joyce at www.myspace.com/djjazzyjoyce
Read thehiphopdiva.com’s feature article on DJ Jazzy Joyce on the Spotlight on Hip Hop Diva DJ Jazzy Joyce page.