Interview with Hip Hop Mixtape Mastermind DJ Arab
DJ Arab is one of the most talented (and mysterious) behind the scenes figures in underground Hip Hop. He creates fantastic mixes & blends, and goes to extreme lengths to obtain the hottest exclusives before anyone even realizes they exist. Because of the confidential nature of his work, his true identity must remain a secret…but Insomniac Magazine met up with the music mastermind at an undisclosed location to gain some insight into his creative process.
You’re building up a rep as one of the best deejays for mixes and exclusives. What first attracted you to Hip Hop and deejaying in particular?
Since I can remember, I’ve always loved Hip Hop. I come from an era of DJs like Red Alert, Chuck Chillout and Mr. Magic. Those DJs weren’t afraid to break new artists or new music. This is what I try to do with my tapes. Show love to up and coming artists.
In your opinion, who are the best deejays in the game past and present?
Doo Wop, Ron G, Clue, Tony Touch, S & S, Dirty Harry, Red Alert, Kayslay. I could go on and on. I respect a lot of new DJs out there…I don’t really listen to anyone’s tapes anymore.
In the case of rare or exclusive tracks, do you have to dig hard to find them or are you at the point where most material is delivered to you due to the increased visibility of your brand?
A bit of both. It’s easy for me to find music. I get some sent to me but I have my sources. What makes me good is that I’m quick wit’ it. To be a leaker you gotta be fast!
What marketing techniques do you utilize to stand out in the industry? And, also tell readers about the new APP you’ve created and its specific features.
I’m not shook to do me. A lot of DJs out there are trying to do what’s popular. Me, I have always tried to stay in my own lane.
Contraband APP, remember that name. This is something that me and my longtime boy and business associate, Frank, aka Anth3m, put together. Our focus with Contraband App is the music itself. We are trying to stay away from the “cute” gimmicks and features and give people what they really want, as much new music as possible. The app itself is out now but it’s constantly being updated to add features. It’s still in Beta you can say. A couple of big features like Save and Search as well as a few we can’t talk about yet are being added to it as we speak.
Are there any emerging artists who stand out to you?
WestSideGunn & Conway. They give me that old NYC vibe I miss and love.
So true. They’re definitely holding it down. Hmmm, so tell me…as a DJ you have to cater to both an underground and commercial audience based on the platform or venue. Which audience do you prefer to spin for and why?
I DJ all types of parties. I like the Hip Hop ones best but sometimes you want to see people dance so you gotta also go commercial. But the Hip Hop crowd is preferred because that’s the music I love to listen to.
What are your specific likes and dislikes about the industry?
I DON’T LIKE how the game is watered down. Everybody trying to be like everybody else. Nothin’ is the same. The feel ain’t there like it used to be. WHAT I LIKE is there’s still a lot of good music but sadly you gotta hunt for it. That’s why we have a Hip Hop(Underground)tab dedicated to underground Hip Hop. No need to look all over anymore, if it’s out, you will find it on our Underground tab.
So what do you hope to achieve within the next 5 years with your brand?
5 years? To have one of the best Hip Hop Apps if not the best Hip Hop App out! Build the brand and make it a lifestyle.
Any final thoughts? Shoutouts?
Go to your app stores or contrabandhiphop.com and download that Contraband App! Shoutouts to The Man upstairs, to my man Anth3m and to everyone out there that’s been helping us promote Contraband, and of course ‘can’t forget our listeners. We do this for you!
– Interview by Kevin Keith