DJ Mark Da Spot is far more than just a celebrity DJ, he’s an entertainer in his own right. In his own words: “He’s the person who comes into the club or venue and makes your entire day. His sets will make you dance, make you enjoy life, and make you leave happy.”
If there’s one thing you can count on from Mark, it’s his contagious good energy. He adds, “I try.”
Born in Montego, Jamaica and raised in the Bronx, New York, MDS has been around music his entire life. From his uncles deejaying in Jamaica all the way to the States, he’s had the pleasure of experiencing both cultures and intertwining them into his musical palette today.
Getting his big break spinning at the upscale, exclusive clubs in NYC such as china Club, Sweet Sixteen, and Lotus, MDS would soon meet Justin Timberlake who played a pivotal role in his career.
Not only did the pop star hire him as his DJ, but he was able to move to Los Angeles and become his chauffeur. And still, his most legendary client to date includes the great Prince, even touring with the late legend for 3 years.
Fast forward to 2020, MDS is a staple in the Los Angeles nightlife scene, spinning your favorite clubs from 1Oak to Poppy to Bootsy Bellows.
AllHipHop: You were born in a family of DJs, when did music come into play?
DJ Mark Da Spot: Music came into play watching my uncles in New York, my uncles were Caribbean DJs. They’d do block parties. I’d be the little kid hanging out watching them play in front of all these people, always excited being on set. It’s something so really wanted to get into.
AllHipHop: When did you first start playing around with equipment?
DJ Mark Da Spot: I always had [standalone] equipment, I never had matching sets. I’d have one turntable from this company, a mixer from this company. Back then we weren’t making any money so you had to get what you can. I’d take things my uncle wouldn’t use anymore and try my best to make them work. After a while, I got used to using them. It worked out for me. [laughs]
AllHipHop: How did Justin Timberlake find you?
DJ Mark Da Spot: I used to work for an exotic limousine company in New York, we had a bunch of different exotic vehicles. I got a call one day to go downtown and pick up a client, they didn’t give me the name. I got down there and it was these two big guys outside. I don’t usually pick up two clients, I said “where you guys going?” They said Brooklyn. Usually when somebody calls me, I’m gone for the entire day. I wind up taking these guys to Brooklyn, they’re security gusrds working for NSYNC. I hung out with them in Brooklyn for the day, might as well stay out there and we got close. They said “hey Mark, we want to introduce you to the guys.”
It was NSYNC, I thought “oh wow.” I was around for a while. Joey was actually my first client before Justin, Joey’s the one showing off my truck. I had TVs in there, video games. At nighttime, you’d see my truck driving around and things lighting up inside. They’re like “what’s that?” One day Joey was busy and Justin had to go somewhere, that’s when I first met him. When Justin got there, he said “whoa, I see why Joey’s so much in love with this vehicle.” I started picking him up, he started requesting me more. “Hey, I need to have Mark.” We bonded a relationship from there.
AllHipHop: How was it chauffeuring him around LA?
DJ Mark Da Spot: It was cool, I didn’t know them like that to be honest. I wasn’t into pop. I was deejaying, of course I know hip-hop but I didn’t know pop music like that. It was different. It was exciting seeing them moving. One day we’re here, next day we’re there. Next day we’re with this person, next day we’re with that person. Really exciting, I said “this is something I really want to stick to.”
AllHipHop: What did that do for your career?
DJ Mark Da Spot: It did a lot for me, got to the point where they said “we want you around us. We want to hire you.” They didn’t want to go off and have to look for anyone else. It really helped my career out because I started doing parties for him. I went on tour with him. He moved to California and asked if I wanted to come out here, I came out here. He went off and started doing movies so I was stuck here by myself for almost a year. Lived at his house, took care of everything that needed to be done. They’re a overseas at that time so I’m making my relationships with different venues in Hollywood and meeting different people.
I started my career back up again here in California. He came back and stopped doing music for a bit, took off in movies. Really wasn’t nothing for to still sit there so au had to pick up and go off on my own. He helped me out a lot by trusting me, bringing me all the way to California, then giving me my own “okay go ahead, do what you got to do. You’re a star as well too, so continue your career.”
AllHipHop: How was moving to Los Angeles? Did you fall in love?
DJ Mark Da Spot: Soon as I got here, I fell in love. [laughs] Usually whatever state we had to do, I’d get there a couple days before so I can drive around and see where the studio’s at, how far the restaurants are. I knew all the guys’ favorite restaurants, they like to eat. I’d know the closest hospital, the closest everything so I could be on point in case of anything. They sent me out here, put me in the Beverly Hills Hotel. “Mark, we’ll be there in a week or two, you mind staying out there?” Literally every day, drive down Sunset, drive down places to see the nightlife. Get to see everything going on, it changed my life a lot. The minute I got here, I loved it. That’s why I stayed.
AllHipHop: Favorite venues to deejay in LA? You’ve spinned everywhere.
DJ Mark Da Spot: One of my favorite ones is 1 OAK. I love venues where it allows the DJ to be not separated from the crowd, but actually has his own space. 1 OAK had this DJ booth that’s perfectly built so you can look over the crowd. You could see the left, the right, people actually behind you. I’m comfortable. In here, I had to go buy a big table because when I’m moving around deejaying, I like to be comfortable. I like to move around.
Boosty Bellows is my favorite too because it has a big area for the DJ. I’m not too big of a fan of small venues only because it gets crazy. Being the DJ, everyone wants to tap you, wants to talk to you, wants to interrupt you. “Hey can I get this song? Can I get this birthday shoutout?” It’s fun, but it’s not easy.
AllHipHop: Do you hate requests?
DJ Mark Da Spot: Yes and no, it all depends. If I’m performing for 3 or 4 thousand people, I can’t take requests from somebody. I got to perform and make the majority of the crowd happy. Being a DJ, you’re not going to make everybody happy, People coming to the club, you can make 95% or 98%, but not all the time 100%. There’s that one person who wants to hear a salsa song at a hip-hop club. If it’s a smaller venue or smaller crowd, if i’m not really in tune or not going too crazy where I can stop for a second and actually talk to you, yeah. Sometimes people get aggressive with requests. I say” I got you in the playlist,” they’re like “no I want hear it now!” Mmm. [laughs]
AllHipHop: How did you get your name?
DJ Mark Da Spot: A friend gave me the name. I used to be DJ Little Mark when I was small, then I went to DJ Big Mark when I got bigger. One of my boys said to me, “Mark all these parties you do, you’re Mark Da Spot man. These people they know your name.” Mark Da Spot stuck on me, everything MDS.
AllHipHop: How did you land with Prince?
DJ Mark Da Spot: Wow, that was another phone call. I always tell DJs coming up: definitely make your relationships. I got a call from a friend saying “hey I need you to do a party for me.” Okay here we go, another party. I don’t know who but the person who called me, I know it’s going to be something good. It was for Prince. I went, I didn’t actually get to meet him. I spoke with his assistant and security guard, they gave me the whole entire breakdown and rules before I even got around him. I know what to expect, so much history with him. I wind up touring with him, it was a great experience with Prince.
AllHipHop: You toured with him & couldn’t talk to him?
DJ Mark Da Spot: Well it’s tricky. The first year, I can’t wear anything else besides suits. Full suits from head to toe. We’d see each other, never said a word for a good year. I’d see all these people around us, big stars. When somebody hires me to work, I’m coming to work. Not coming to be star struck. One day we’re doing a party at his house, he came and tapped on my shoulder. “Hey Mark, you’re playing that song a little too fast.” I’m saying to myself, did I get in trouble? [laughs] From that point on, it was over. “Hey Mark, hey Mark…” I learned you can be around or work around him, but he has to be really comfortable with you first before he makes that initial introduction. It turned into history. We did the Vegas shows, I went on his last tour. It was really fun.
AllHipHop: Someone told me a story where MJ could pinpoint a minuscule amount of BPMs slower. Was that how Prince was?
DJ Mark Da Spot: Music mastermind, he listens to everything. I couldn’t play much hip-hop, he really wasn’t into too much hip-hop. He was into a lot of classics, I had to play a lot of classics, When you listen to the classics, you hear the BPM really fast. For him to say “Mark you played that song a little too fast,” things like still dawn down on me while I’m deejaying.
AllHipHop: How did you land in with Kevin Hart?
DJ Mark Da Spot: When i lived in New York, I used to have braids. Me and his ex-wife had the same hair stylist, she introduced me to Kevin. She said “hey we moved out here from Philly, my husband’s a comedian.” I said “nice, I’m from the Bronx if you guys ever need me for an event.” Did one event for him, met the whole team. Everybody’s from the East Coast. Me and him got close. All his events, he’d call me and nobody else. We did a tour in Australia together, went to London, Vegas. I did his 40th party last year at Tao. I bring a lot of great, positive energy.
AllHipHop: What’s a DJ Mark Da Spot set like?
DJ Mark Da Spot: A lot of energy. If I have a hip-hop crowd, I know what it takes to get them where they need to be. Talking too, you have to communicate with your crowd. Very important, I learned that from watching different MCs. Back in the day you’d see the DJ and MC but if you could get all in one, that’s the best ever.
AllHipHop: Favorite song to drop in a set?
DJ Mark Da Spot: All the females are doing real good right now. Megan The Stallion, Cardi B, City Girls, they’re really making noise. They make the guys get up and work extra hard now. I mix a lot of their songs. On my own time, I listen to a lot of R&B, Nigerian music, Caribbean music.
AllHipHop: Are you dropping “WAP” in your set?
DJ Mark Da Spot: Of course. For women, how can I not? We’re not in the club so I have to go online and do it but when I’m online, I still get requests. [laughs]
AllHipHop: How has COVID-19 affected your career?
DJ Mark Da Spot: It affected it a lot. I was in the club at least 5 times a week. We have to now go Live, that started off really good. Shout out to D-Nice, he started the whole trail of all the DJs going on Live. You don’t have the crowd in front of you so the energy’s different. I miss the clubs. I’m an entertainer, I miss entertaining people.
AllHipHop: What was Nipsey’s influence on you?
DJ Mark Da Spot: I miss Nipsey man, definitely one of my favorite artists besides being a friend. A lot of things Nipsey said in his lyrics, people are starting to hear and understand them now. He reminds me of the Nas. Nipsey, you have to really listen to him. I really miss him. His energy is really big around my house, I have about 3 pictures around my house. I like to wake up and see him every day. Whatever I got going on, the minute I see him I get back focused.