DJ Vlad has taken the mixtape world like the marvel character Galactus. But, he’s not just eating off the game, he’s putting food on the plate for others in the form of his sick Cds, which truly took the overcrowded genre to another level. Case study: Tupac: Rap Phenomenon II,” his stellar collaborative effort with Green Lantern and DJ Dirty Harry has already garnered him an inane amount of awards and accolades. The original “Notorious BIG: Rap Phenomenon” also transcended other greatest hits collections by remixing the old track with others artists and even new verses – essentially crafting complete new songs. Of course, his career doesn’t stop or end there – so get to know DJ Vlad.
AllHiphop.com: I heard you made beats back in the early 90’s do you still make beats?
V: Yeah. I’m getting back into that swing again; I got a couple of beat reels that are circulating, some people we’re talking to. If I come back into it I wanna come back real hard.
AllHiphop.com: You’re the King of the West Coast as far as mixtapes, but you live in New York…
V: Yeah. We’ll I moved to New York about a year and a half ago but I’ve lived in the west most of my life and I was doing my thing up there. But it wasn’t really ‘til I moved to New York ‘til I learned what the game was like. Once I was able to figure out how it worked on the east coast I started going back to the west a lot getting my s### out real hard. At one point I started looking around and was like “ There’s nobody really doing it right now, I should just take that title”. And my man Warrior he ended up hooking up with me and I sort of keyed him into a lot of stuff and he was able to get his stuff popping from that he won “Best West Coast” category in the Mixtape Awards. He made sure to shout me out and everything when he [was] presented his award.
AllHiphop.com: So are you still popping as far as mix tapes in the West?
V: Yeah, I’m trying. We did our thing with the Rap Phenomenon. Vibe and XXL gave that mixtape of the year as well as gave a mixtape award for it. Right now I’m working on a mixtape that’s going to be all rock beats. Rock beats with hip hop vocals on it and I ended up hooking up with Muggs from Cypress Hill and he was working on the exact same s### coincidently. Right now we’re collaborating and we’ll fly out in a couple of weeks to finish that mixtape up.
AllHiphop.com: Who’s your favorite artist on the mixtapes? I heard your mixtapes and noticed you like to put a lot of Biggie tracks on them and then you came out with Rap Phenomenon, which was just exclusively biggie…
V: I’m a huge Biggie fan. I’m a real real big Biggie fan. I’m a Big/ Tupac fan and I’m really feeling what 50 is doing these day’s . You going to see a lot of 50 influences, I’m a big Eminem fan I’ve always been keyed into Em before Dre even found him when he was sort of doing all the independent 12 inches and doing other peoples sh*t. Independently I saw talent there. In terms of new dudes I like what game is doing and we’re actually working on his mixtape right now. I really like what’s coming out of the Aftermath camp. Status quo working on his mixtape he got signed.
AllHiphop.com: What puts an unsigned artist on a mixtape? Is it their street credibility or is it talent alone?
V: I try to get dudes that are hustling. Its cool that you got a nice flow and your rapping over somebody elses beat but I don’t really want to waste anyones time in a way. Like if I put someone on I really want them to run with that and do some big things with it because right now my tapes are getting a lot of attention every major A&R has a copy of it. So if I will put someone on I want them to use that to get them to the next level and keep it moving like that. These cats got put on called The Renegades out of cali which was a year ago, those were the first unsigned dudes I put on my mixtape and they got a deal from Def Jam right now on the table. They’re able to parlay that into a major record deal. That’s what I’m really looking for cat’s who are working real hard to build there buzz or its just like why bother I put you on you can brag about it to your friends but I rather give that spot to someone else.
AllHiphop.com: Is your preference selling what’s hot to you or what people are going to want to hear? What’s hot on the street now may not be to your liking.
V: It’s got to be a combination of both. I’m not going to sit down and be on my own s### to the point where its like I don’t care what everybody else thinks. My ears aren’t perfect, there are records out there when I heard them I didn’t think much of them but next thing you know they’re massive hits. That’s happened a bunch of times. So…I just try to see what’s hot but I think what makes me a little different is that like New York a lot of the Mixtape DJ’s…People want to hear s### in New York that other places don’t necessarily want to hear so I don’t just see what’s hot in New York and put out that. My CD won’t have 20 D Block songs on them, but D Block is real hot in New York but in Cali there are not feeling D-Block like that and in the South they’re really not feeling D-Block like that. I try to go to some of those other places and see what’s going on over there. I remember in the bay where I’m from we were playing the Young Guns’ “Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop from the jump and New York wasn’t playing it at all. Like three, four months we were up on that next thing you know three months later it’s a big hit there’s a video its all over the radio stations.
AllHiphop.com: Yeah. Do you feel the whole mixtape thing is getting old?
V: Nah, I don’t think so. It’s just like everything else, it’s only as old as you let it get old, if theres no motivation in it then yeah its going to get old. As long as you got new cats coming in there switching sh*t up.
AllHiphop.com: Yeah, but its also harder for cats trying to build there buzz off of mixtapes because it used to be you make a hot mixtape you good now its like you got to drop 20 just to get hot…
V: That’s not necessarily true, at the end of the day if you’re real hot your real hot. There may be more mixtape DJ’s these days but nowadays when someone like Clue drops it’s a big deal. No matter how many mixtape DJ’s popped up last week if DJ Clue Drops a mixtape everybody rushes out and gets it. When Whoo drops it’s a big deal. But if you getting on a whole bunch of no name s### then people are not going to be paying attention but if your s### is hot then you go get on one of the big DJ’s joints.
K You’ve been doing shows in Japan, Australia, Germany all these places…what is your favorite place to perform?
V: Australia was real hot. I did like 5 cities, the groupie situation in Australia is serious no joke! [Laughs] Feel free to print that. I recommend every artist to go to Australia. It was no joke, I guess because it’s so far out. It’s like 20 hours to get to, I would have gone crazy without my sleeping pills. Once you get out there you really do feel like a celebrity if you’re from anywhere else. Japan was real hot, the vibe was real ill. The show I did in the Middle East was kind of hot, a bunch of military cats. Its just kind of crazy walking around because your right next to Iraq and just the thought of that bugs you out a little bit.
AllHiphop.com: One thing I wanted to ask you because I heard a interview a friend did with 9th wonder and he was like how rap is going downhill and how it would take some golden age cats like Pete Rock to really revolutionalize things, do you feel that same way? And who did you view as “ The Sh*t” in your break dancing days?
V: I think Rick Ruben was the s### back then. Run DMC was the s### back then, they came out real hard. Grandmaster Melle Mel did his thing. I think a lot of those dudes who were doing it back then get kind of bored with it. You can only do the same thing for so long and you have to switch it up or it just gets boring to you. Remember back in the 90’s there was always that discussion of who is the better producer dre or premiere? That was a real serious topic back in 94, as of now its not a real question anymore. Its obvious, Dre! I think if you look at Dre you’ll see he really switched his sound up, what he’s doing now doesn’t sound like what he was doing in his NWA days or with the Death Row G-Funk sh*t. Premo was doing the same thing. But I think it’s a little hard for these cats that were doing it way back when to make a big impact because people want to hear that new s###, people don’t want to hear that old s###. I think Kanye did a good job from taking the old sound from Pete Rock and everything making it new and relevant.
AllHiphop.com: My last question, I was interested in getting into the mixtape game myself do you have any advice?
V: I would say find someone who’s really doing it, just find that one dude that you really admire a lot. If you really feeling it, use that as kind of a blueprint in a way and if you can hook up with that dude. I think everyone in this world needs role models and a lot of these cats have already figured out some of the hurdles that you’re about to go through so find them cats that are already doing it and see if they’ll bless you with some knowledge. Hip hop in general, a lot of it is about affiliation. Like all the major dudes who have come out in the past 6 years have all been affiliated with someone. 50 with Em, Em with Dre, Joe [Budden] with Clue. The list goes on and on. Socome out and be affiliated with someone who’s hot that will help you out a lot. I know had I dropped them Rap Phenomenon joints with just myself, they wouldn’t have did what they did.