Editor’s Note: DJs carried the original torch for Hip-Hop – back when there were no MCs! AllHipHop.com is taking a little time out to “Salute the Spin Doctors” this month. Check back for more feature stories and editorials with some of the top DJs across the country.
DJ Baby Yu is known as the “Remix Kid,” largely because of his impressive blends that can pair one song with another that most people would never imagine together. Beyonce’s “Love on Top,” and The Clipse, “Grindin’?” Believe it or not, it works. And, it works in a major way. Baby Yu’s “5 O’clock Happy Hour” mix, which airs every weekday as part of the Ryan Cameron Show on W-VEE, V-103 in Atlanta, Georgia, is rated number one… in every demographic.
DJ Baby Yu is a Toronto, Canada native whose name is homage to his Japanese heritage. When he is not moving crowds in Atlanta’s hottest nightspots, he’s on the road extensively through the United States, Canada, Europe, and Asia. DJ Baby Yu is currently Young Jeezy’s tour DJ, traveling across Europe with the "Hustler’s Ambition" Tour. On the road and at home, Baby Yu loves playing unique mixes to influence people to open their hearts and minds through music.
“I do what I do for the love of music, also for the love of influencing others in the right direction by having a great time at a party,” says Baby Yu. “Being a vital part of those enjoying great mixes and music through their Ipod’s, radio, internet and so on, pushes me to continually achieve creative greatness…I believe I can make a difference.”
AllHipHop.com sat down with DJ Baby Yu at the V-103 studios, where he takes regular ribbing from his colleagues, Crash D and Ryan Cameron, about his ever-increasing popularity. We spoke to the 34-year-old about the art of DJ’ing, the direction of the art, and modern DJ’ing as big business:
AllHipHop.com: I am such a big fan of your blends, the instrumentals and vocal tracks you choose. How do you do it?
DJ Baby Yu: When I started DJ’ing, I just started remixing right off the bat. Before I understood how it worked, for me it was kind of boring to hear the same song, the same way that it plays on the radio. I think it just comes natural. I don’t know - it just comes to me. I guess I’m lucky. I think loving so many different genres of music keeps your mind open to being creative.
AllHipHop.com: That’s another thing that people love about your mixes - you blend so many different genres. How is the response? Being in an urban city like Atlanta, can you play Blondie or Queen?
DJ Baby Yu: I just do it. I don’t even care. I know this city is open-minded enough for it, when it comes to music. I think it used to be a lot more closed and segregated by genre, I would go to a Hip-Hop club and they would play all Dirty South, the same four songs. So, one of my goals was to help the city get back to what it was. The city is filled with people from all over the country. But now, people just accepted it; now they are used to it, and they love it. I think it’s opened a door for DJs around the city to play a lot more different kinds of music. There are no rules.
AllHipHop.com: Tell me more about the Jeezy tour? How has that been going?
DJ Baby Yu: It’s been great. We’ve done the East Coast, West Coast. The L.A. show and Detroit were probably the best. I just got off the Canadian tour, then Europe.
AllHipHop.com: So, I’m sure you guys probably became acquainted here in Atlanta? How long have you been in Atlanta? And what do you love about it?
DJ Baby Yu: Four years… and the food. I had never tried Southern cooking until I moved here, collard greens and all of that. [laughter] We don’t have it up there in Toronto. I love the food, but I moved here for the music. I felt that I had done all that I could in Canada. I had done major after-parties for everybody. Mixtapes. Radio. But, I just felt like I wasn’t growing. Then I started getting into the U.S. market with XM Radio until the merger. I was DJ’ing for Jin, and then I started coming out to Atlanta and was working with a big club owner, so I moved. The first year was tough, because I moved right when the economy crashed, but I’m good now.
AllHipHop.com: I guess you can’t mention Hip-Hop and Toronto, and I not ask you about Drake.
DJ Baby Yu: Yeah, I had a radio show and podcast thing going on. I interviewed him before he really blew up. I’m happy for him. It’s great.
AllHipHop.com: DJ equipment has changed so much over the years. What direction do you see it going in? What do you use? And what would be a dream piece to have?
DJ Baby Yu: Serato is the industry standard. When it first came out, a lot of people were hating on it. But you have to evolve with the times. It’s just like how a Jay-Z or LL Cool J lasted so long, because they were able to evolve with the trends, with the changes in Hip-Hop. In DJ’ing, you have to accept what’s coming.
Because of the technology, anybody can DJ now. It used to be that certain singles and albums, you couldn’t get, unless you kind of knew somebody or really digged to get it. Now, it’s like you can go on iTunes, and you can just buy it. A lot of the traditions of being a DJ are kind of gone now, but I’m happy with where it is. Jazzy Jeff says it all the time that he loves it, and if even a pioneer like him can say he loves the evolution… Serato is my weapon. Ableton is what I love to make music. It allows you to pre-produce a show.
AllHipHop.com: I heard you mention Jazzy Jeff. If you had to pick a few legendary, favorite DJs, who would you pick?
DJ Baby Yu: Jazzy Jeff is a good friend of mine. He is someone I look up to. I never started DJ’ing because I loved DJs; I really loved collecting music and DJ’ing just sort of fell into my lap. But, then I started seeing people like Clinton Sparks; I loved his branding strategy. DJ Vice, an amazing DJ from the West Coast. There are a whole bunch of amazing DJs out there, especially in Canada, who just started from scratch.
AllHipHop.com: Another thing I really admire about you is how dedicated you are to your branding. You have podcasts, you are developing an iPhone app… how important is business and branding to a DJ?
DJ Baby Yu: Very important. I tell everybody, you can be the best DJ in the world, and be a basement DJ for the rest of your life. There are a lot of big name DJs who may not be that talented, but they network, they know the right people, they work on their branding. If you have everything together, the brand and the talent, it’s great. I mean, it helps what I want to accomplish, I feel like I can change people’s direction in life by just giving them a good time at a club or listening in traffic. I just want to pass on positive vibes to people.
AllHipHop.com: Where do you think the art of DJ’ing is headed?
DJ Baby Yu: I don’t really know where the art is going. I hope turntables don’t disappear. I hope they won’t; there are too many DJs out there who love the turntable and can use it with the technology. But, I can’t really tell, with all the programs there are that mix for you… it seems like every company is trying to make DJ’ing a simpler art. For all the DJs who are good today, it can help them be great, I guess.
DJ Baby Yu “The Remix Kid” is on the air every weekday in Atlanta on V-103 and can be heard via Podcast at babyyu.urbanradioondemand.com. Check his website, www.babyyu.com, and follow him on Twitter (@djbabyyu).
If you're lucky enough to be in Europe in the next two weeks, catch DJ Baby Yu on the Euro-leg of the "Hustler’s Ambition' Tour with @YoungJeezy.