Washington, DC is a cultural mecca, boasting a thriving music scene, cutting-edge art, and cutting-edge fashion. We had the pleasure of chatting with JB, a native DC DJ, who takes us on a journey from his earliest musical inspirations to his current take on the city's sound.
JB shares his favorite sneaker memories, tips for creating the perfect playlist, and strategies for selecting records to make his sets unforgettable. He also introduces us to some old and new artists that are sure to delight music lovers everywhere.
WHAT INSPIRED YOU LOVE FOR MUSIC?
My first introduction to music was Gospel music. Growing up in church, that’s what my folks listened to the most and R&B/Soul, so that’s how I fell in love with music. I fell in love with Hip Hop because of shows like 106 & Park and Rap City. Video games like Madden, Tony Hawk Pro Skater, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City and NBA Live had cool music soundtracks too. And then in my early/mid teenage years I started listening & going to GoGo’s - that really changed my life.
HOW HAD DC IMPACTED YOU TAKE ON MUSIC?
Growing up in D.C. we always loved different types of music, but GoGo is the heartbeat. Being in a GoGo band and going to the GoGo was the coolest thing to do. We loved southern rap (Lil Wayne, Gucci Mane), NY hip hop (JayZ, 50 Cent) and everything else that was hot at the time. We showed our music taste, range & talents through GoGo. We were learning instruments, singing, rapping, writing, producing, and being creative at very young ages.
WHAT IS THE SOUND OF THE CITY?
GoGo, always & forever. Rap has become the more prominent genre in the city, and Afro Beats has also had a huge impact in the past few years, but GoGo is still the heartbeat and its alive and well.
EARLIEST SNEAKER MEMORY (MAYBE W/ NEW BALANCE)?
My first pair of New Balance were the grey 992’s, those are still my favorite pair. My high school wore burgundy, white & grey uniforms, so New Balance were an everyday staple. The whole city wore them, and they go with everything, you can never go wrong with a pair of New Balance. I love a lot of the collabs they’re doing now but I still only wear grey New Balance.
WHAT GOES INTO CREATING A GOOD PLAYLIST?
I like playlist’s that flow like an album but has different genres and vibes as well. Show your music taste & range.
HOW DO YOU DETERMINE THE RECORDS YOU’LL PLAY DURING A SET? YOU CARRY A HUGE RESPONSIBILITY IN PROVIDING THE VIBES.
It’s definitely a huge responsibility. I usually do a little preparation before a set, like searching for new & old music, putting records in crates, and organizing songs, especially if it’s a themed party/event. With experience, record selection becomes second nature because you’ll know what does/doesn’t work, and eventually just freestyle 90% of the time. Reading the room is one of the most important elements to DJ’ing, but also playing music that you (the DJ) want to here. If the DJ isn’t having fun, it will show in the performance and the vibes will be off.
IF YOU COULD LISTEN TO A RECORD AGAIN FOR THE FIRST TIME, WHAT WOULD IT BE AND WHY?
That’s hard, but probably the first time I heard TCB or went to see them live. I want to re-live the GoGo era from 2005 – 2010.
WHAT’S YOUR CURRENT ROTATION LOOKING LIKE?
My rotation changes almost every day. But 70’s 80’s 90’s 2000’s R&B, Neo Soul, Hip Hop/Rap, AfroBeats, Amapiano, House/Dance/Disco music are in heavy rotation. I’m always searching for new music to add to my DJ sets or to listen to when I’m chilling.
WHO ARE SOME ARTISTS, OLD OR NEW, THAT WE SHOULD KNOW ABOUT?
An old artist that doesn’t get talked about much is Curtis Mayfield. “Pusherman” might be the first trap rap/song ever. Some new artists people should know about is Ambition (GoGo Band), Cash Jones, and a few DJ’s Ebb King, Bast & Airess Jordan.