Big Chew: Semi what’s good? How are things?
DJ Semi: Chew! What up fam? First off, thank you for giving me the opportunity to sit down and let the people know a little bit more about the Mixtape Marvel. Everything’s been good, man. I’ve been dropping on a more consistent basis in 2006 and the shelf life on my joints is proof that I come from a more creative angle. The “mixtapes are dead” talk is getting to me, so I’m stepping it up this year to give people a reason to spend that $6.99.
Big Chew: Let the people know where your from and how long you’ve been in the mixtape game.
DJ Semi: CT STAND UP!!! I’m out of Waterbury, CT – The Brass City aka the Dirty Water. I’ve been DJing since I was 13, doing things on a local level, but it wasn’t until 2004 when I dropped my first tape on an international level. I turn 21 this year.
Big Chew: I wanna talk about this new mixtape you have with Hot Rod. How did that relationship come about?
DJ Semi: Ahh man. I’m glad you mentioned that. Shout to my dude Hot Rod and everybody over at G-Unit. The way that came about was a combination of my prior relationships with the people at the Unit, and me putting him out through my last few mixtapes. Last May I dropped ‘A South Side Story 2’ which was an official Banks co-signed CD. Hot Rod’s first appearance was on that… the “Bump This” track with LL Cool J, Banks, and 50. After that I got in touch with Rod and made it my goal to go hard promoting his work. I knew he was something special when I heard that verse. He’s a breath of fresh air for hip-hop right now. He ain’t running around with heaters and vials of crack – he’s just coming with crazy swagger. In August I dropped my ‘Position of Power’ tape which was hosted by Banks and Rod. That was like the official introduction to the whole Hot Rod movement. He gave me a few exclusive tracks for that and then the next month he hit me with like 15 more bangers, which is where most of the material on the new mixtape is from.
Big Chew: Can we expect some more G-Unit type mixtapes in the near future? Maybe another Lloyd Banks joint? What’s coming up as far as releases for you in the next couple months?
DJ Semi: I’m definitely working more closely with G-Unit now, so in the near future I’m coming with 2 new projects. I got Part 2 to the ‘Position of Power’ joint coming, which is more of a mix of new material, exclusives, and my remixes. Then after that I’m gonna be dropping an artist tape with Young Buck. They laced me with an arsenal of acapella tracks for that one, so front to back the tape is gonna be something creative. And the homie Buck is crazy with the personality on mixtapes so I’m sure fans of his will want to pick that up. Outside of the G-Unit projects, I’m working on more artist tapes, and I’m finally dropping an all-remix hip-hop CD with my fellow LXG young gun, Lil’ Raskal. As for official artist tapes I have coming up… I have a Dipset project hosted by Juelz & 40 Cal, a Papoose remix project (and yes, he’s hosting), and a sequel to my Southern G’z series which is featuring the crack-rap kings Jeezy & Rick Ross. Last year I dropped an R&B; remix CD that did well – ‘Bonnie & Clyde’. The lovely and talented Lady Gemini and myself are currently working on a sequel to that for the end of the winter.
After all of that I’m introducing the world to ‘Remix Radio’. That’s gonna be my bread and butter series. God’s Son himself, Nas is hosting that one. I’m about to give a lot of fake DJs a run for their money. Production-wise, I put so much work into part one of ‘Remix Radio’. I have every heavyweight in the rap game on it, and every track is something original. Being a remix DJ, it’s easy for me to get unused or old vocals from an artist and then flip that into a brand new track. When people see the tracklist when it drops this spring they’ll immediately want to see what the CD is about.
Big Chew: Looking at your catalogue of mixtapes you’ve always seem to put out a quality all around product and maintain a long shelf life. Why do you think that is? What seperates your CDs from say DJ Shit-in-a-Box who just throws 30-40 old songs together of an artist and calls it a mixtape?
DJ Semi: The difference between me and these DJs who just throw 40 tracks into their burning program and call it a day is in the way I put everything together. Without trying to sound too much like an arrogant prick – I can tell you that my ear for remixing is finely tuned. Every track I come up with is pieced together like a puzzle and has some sort of concept that makes sense. I don’t just blend a vocal to a beat… people appreciate my attention to detail. Scratch hooks, ad-libs, artist combination remixes… I incorporate all of that into making new tracks that could fool even some of hip-hop’s most knowledgeable listeners. Take the ‘Southern G’z Pt. 1’ project that featured Lil’ Wayne and T.I.. Everyone is feeling those two CRAZY right now, and they have a similar style and a well-known respect for eachother, so the concept to me was a no-brainer. I took old vocals from Wayne & Tip and crafted them into new songs just for this particular project. That right there is essentially the answer to my shelf life theory.
Big Chew: What’s the mixtape scene like in CT these days? I lived in CT for a minute and truth be told, like many places, it was a bootlegers dream. Is it still like that out there?
DJ Semi: If you lived out here Chew, you know that the mixtape game is no joke! I’d say we’re not far down the line behind New York as far as states that are known for mixtape spots, but unfortunately like you mentioned, bootleggers are thriving like a motherfucker out here. You don’t usually expect to walk into a spot in your own state and see your CD with a bootleg-ass cover, but let me tell you – it’s happened. They’re everywhere though – there’s no avoiding it. I’m not really affected by it, since I make mixtapes mainly for promotion, but If I was one of these fly-by night MP3 downloading DJs I wouldn’t want to have to deal with all of the bootlegging. It’s free promotion to me. Period. Thank you, Bootleggers, for getting my name in the heads of countless hip-hop fans!
Big Chew: It seems like the other mixtape DJs out in CT support each other fairly well. Is that truly the case?
DJ Semi: Absolutely. Big shout to my fellow CT DJs! Out here, there’s a few teams and individuals that are definitely doing big things. In New York, I know a lot of DJs have scuffles over some dumb shit, but out here it’s almost always love. I fuck with everyone I can, just to network. I’m cool with the radio cats and I’m cool with Big Mike, KG, and the mixtape cats. Besides Mike, no one has really made a name for CT like that as far as mixtapes go, so I’m hoping I can be the creative dude on top out here.
Big Chew: I remember you posting something on the Rapmullet message board a while back about opening a store. Any updates on that venture?
DJ Semi: Yessir! The spot is locked down and we’re about to open up in the Waterbury area this month. Right now we’re actually going in and re-doing the whole place so I can give it the environment that I’m envisioning in my head. Our catalog of mixtapes right now is so deep… and we ain’t even open yet! If y’all are out in the CT area be sure to hit me up for a walk through!
Big Chew: Switching it up a bit. I don’t know how many people know that you do graphic design as well. It must be nice to have the ability to do your own cover work and really get to convey your vision of a project visually as well as through the music. Are you still actively pursuing design or has that taken a back seat for the time being?
DJ Semi: I’m still doing the design thing – just at less of a demanding pace. I spent the last 3 years really focused on the Spark Designs venture, which definitely affected my consistency in the mixtape game. A few months ago I made the decision to spend more time on the music side of things, so I can really get the DJ Semi & Remix Radio movement popping. I love designing for mixtapes, because it really affects a customers decision on picking up the product. I will tell you one thing though… I hate designing my own covers. I’m super picky when it comes to my own shit, so I always end up wishing I kept the last DJ’s cover that I designed to myself haha.
Big Chew: Without getting specific, what’s better money….graphics or mixtapes? Which do you prefer doing the most?
DJ Semi: That’s an easy question to answer. Graphic design money is definitely better money then the mixtape money. If you were to ask me if ‘DJ money’ was better money than graphics then my answer might be different. Mixtapes are a stepping stone, not a business. With graphics you’re all profit if you can deal with the hassles and creative strains, but mixtapes are definitely not something you want to do if you’re trying to make an honest income. I use mixtapes to promote other ventures that I can legitimately cake off from.
Big Chew: Did you have any mentors coming up in this industry? Who really took you under their wing and schooled you so to speak on the in’s and out’s?
DJ Semi: Of course. Locally, my mentor is DJ KG. I call that man my pops. If you’ve ever been through Connecticut, then I’m sure you know of him from Hot 93.7 or his night club gigs. K really influenced me skill wise and schooled me to a lot of things about the DJ career as a whole. We have a great relationship where if we ever catch each other slipping – we make sure to kick each other’s ass back into gear. I help him with a lot of the mixtape stuff, and he’s helped me learn the ins and outs of club and radio. That’s my pops right there… real talk. From a mixtape standpoint, no one has influenced me more than The Evil Genius. The way he puts his shit together had me listening to his tapes for months. I studied those things more than I ever studied for classes back in high school. Mad love for Green.
Big Chew: Considering where you are in the mixtape game currently, being as versatile as you are and being such a young cat as well, where do you go from here? What’s next on the list of accomplishments?
DJ Semi: Mixtape wise, I just want to build a crazy catalog. If you have an artist that you love and follow, I want to make sure I have a mixtape that you can pick up and appreciate more than their albums. I really want to make ‘Remix Radio’ my relevant series – like Whoo Kid’s ‘G-Unit Radio’ or Drama’s ‘Gangsta Grillz’. I’ve been planning that for a long time now. Besides the mixtapes, I’ve been working on my production skills and of course the venture with the hip-hop store. I’ve got a lot on my plate and so much I’d like to accomplish. I have a T-Shirt line that I’m designing, a DVD series coming, and I’m even doing some A&R;/promotions work for artists. You know where we can find any more time in the day, Chew?
Big Chew: I hear you. Mixtape wise is the game getting better or worse? What’s one thing the game needs to rid itself of to keep the artform alive?
DJ Semi: I can’t answer the first part of that question. I don’t think it’s worse, because the music affects the game, but I definitely don’t feel like it’s gotten better. The heavyweights have all slowed down somewhat, and most of the newcomers are fly-by night Big Mike wanna-bes. People need to realize that there isn’t really a market for the MP3s that they burn to a CD and call a mixtape. If you can’t put in the hard time hustle like a Big Mike or a Superstar Jay, then there’s no way you’ll be able to pull it off. If you come with creativity and a concept, then the time you spend hustling will all pay off. You need connections and consistency to be at all relevant these days.
Big Chew: Having that good ear for music where are we gonna see hip hop music in 2007? What are the next trends going to be and who should we keep our ears open for this year?
DJ Semi: I think people have lost sight of what hip-hop really is. The south is hip-hop. Jeezy is hip-hop, shit even D4L is hip-hop. There’s artists all over the country expressing themselves… whether it’s lyrically, with club music, with dances, whatever… that’s all hip-hop to me. I see dudes down south getting crazy paper for shows, going gold and platinum. How is Hip-Hop at all dead? It’s at a rough patch… it happens. 2007 shows a lot of promise though. I’m looking forward to hearing releases from Papoose, Saigon, Hell Rell, and of course my dude Hot Rod. There’s something coming for everyone.
Big Chew: Semi thanks for taking the time out to answer some questions. Rapmullet wishes you continued success this year. Any last words for our readers?
DJ Semi: It’s all my pleasure homie. Thanks again for letting my ass ramble on. It’s crazy to watch Rapmullet and DJ Semi grow together – but we’ve both come a long way. To my listeners – thanks for the support and be sure to check me out in your spots, on the internet (DJSemi.biz / MySpace.com/djsemi), and on the road. Also let me run down the shout list real quick… my dude KG and Aces Full, the entire LXG movement, Lil’ Raskal, Unexpected, Dimez, Miami, my homegirl Lady Gemini, everyone at G-Unit and all of the labels that I deal with, and of course Rapmullet. I know it’s cliché as fuck to say – but I’m going hard this year!! Peace