In 2007 during the latter part of the Myspace days I had the privilege of interviewing the great DJ Aladdin, one of the most talented DJs to come out of the West Coast. DJ Aladdin was also a KDAY Mixmaster who slayed DJs from the East Coast and overseas in competitions and later a producer for the likes of Ice T and King T. He was also a partner with WC in the group Low Profile before Dub went on to greater fame with the Maad Circle and Westside Connection with Ice Cube.
This interview was a real honor for me since DJ Aladdin rarely does interviews. I published this in 2007 while I worked for Raptalk.net.
TS: Take us back to the very beginning when you first started DJing. What year was that, man?
Aladdin: When I first started DJing, it was out of Compton back in like 1983 or 84. I was just like picking up on it, but like around 86’s when I really started taking it seriously. I used to do hood parties – neighborhood parties in my neighborhood in Compton and other little neighborhoods around where I stayed at. The neighborhood is where I gained my recognition as far as a starting ground. Then from there I had an audition for the KDAY Mix-Masters in like 1986 or 87.
TS: Greg Mack mentioned that briefly about you in our interview with him.
Aladdin: Yeah and then from there on there was no stopping me. I used to and I still do idolize Joe Cooley who performed in Compton also. I used to go check out Joe Cooley and M-Walk and then from there I started doing my own hood parties. Then I went to KDAY and started battling DJs in New York.
TS: We are going to go through all of that but let me ask you this, were you a part of any DJ crews at the time?
Aladdin: Yeah, I was part of this crew on my block called the L.A. Music Crew. We used to DJ the high schools, junior high’s, and hood parties.
TS: Who was all a part of that?
Aladdin: We had DJ Faze and another named DJ Chill. They stayed on my block. We were all the L.A. Music Crew. They were already the L.A. Music Crew when they first met me. I was really young at the time so for a while I couldn’t go to some of the parties they were doing because I couldn’t get in.
TS: Take us back to 1580 KDAY. Tell us about your experience working there. It was a world renown, the first its kind. A radio station that established the blueprint for all future hip hop stations.
Aladdin: Aw man, it was a pleasurable and memorable experience – unforgettable experiences! Just being around cats like Greg Mack, Tony G, Julio G who is now on the new KDAY, Joe Cooley, Jammin’ Gemini, and we had another cat named DJ Trey-Ski. It was cool because we used to mix on the radio, turn our mixes in, and just to hear ourselves DJing on the radio – It was exciting!
It was cool because you could really use that, since KDAY was the only station around, to parlay your name to do other things. That’s how I became part of the Rhyme Syndicate which was Ice T’s crew because I got known for breaking records that nobody else would play like NWA and Eazy E. A lot of them (DJs) weren’t playing them in their mixes. I was the one that would play those records. It was like, man you just had the power. It wasn’t like now where it’s real syndicated and organized and you can’t really break new music. The only one that can really do that is Julio G right now. That’s what he’s doing and that’s what makes KDAY so bomb because they can play stuff that nobody can play. Like back then you could play a lot of stuff on your mixes as long as it didn’t have any cursing. You could break unknown artists and stuff like Ice T’s “6 In the Morning.” I was playing that stuff when other DJs wouldn’t mess with it.
TS: With that independent spirit you would probably have a hard time working in today’s radio environment (laughs).
Aladdin: Yeah exactly, but it was real cool then. You know when I came up in hip hop, I was in to the movies like Wild Style and Beat Street. Krush Groove was a cool movie but it wasn’t like Wild Style and Beat Street because those movies showed how it was really going on in the New York scene. They were in vacant buildings and used to dress the building up in graffiti and just party in it. I was fascinated with the New York scene. My block back home was known for its drug dealing so I put my hustle down and got a ticket and went to New York. I went to this DJ battle; it was called DMC – The Disco Mixing Championship.
TS: Tell us about that. What happened there?
Aladdin: When I first went out there to battle they were first tripping off of me because I went down there in khakis and wearing a jheri curl. The East Coast wasn’t into the West Coast style of gangbanging at the time. They were tripping off me but when they heard me DJ, I gained their respect. That’s when I first really got put on the map because back then they had a lot of hip hop & DJ magazines. They would always put me in their articles especially after I won the DMC battle. I was tripping a lot of people out because I was from the West Coast and I beat all of the East Coast DJs in the battles. In the DMC, they even had me represent the East Coast even though I was from the West Coast. So it was a trip because my name had become known and it was out there ringing bells.
I then went to Chicago and won the USA Championship. That got me the love to really parlay my name from there and take it to London. It was really cool because I got the chance to be around cats like King Sun and Just Ice. At the time when I was going back and forth to New York, I was staying with DJ Clark Kent, Dana Dane’s DJ. He used to lace me a lot too on the East Coast style of DJing which gave me the advantage of combining the East Coast style to my West Coast style.
TS: If I can stop you there for a moment now that you bring that up. What was so different between the West and East DJing styles? What were you doing so different that you made you defeat all of those East Coast DJs?
Aladdin: The West Coast was more into cutting the fast beats and mixing rhythm with the beats, using style with tricks but always staying on the beat. We were cutting stuff like Mantronix, Cut Master DC, and a lot of little stuff like that but it was with more style. The West Coast was more like scratching and fast cutting, while the New York style was more like cutting the slower hip hop beats.
TS: Ok, so you became the United States Champion. Then you went to the World Championship in London. According to your Myspace you came in 2nd place. Who came in first?
Aladdin: The DJ from London, Cut Master Swift. What was the cold thing about that was that I had gotten more recognition then he did, because people felt like that since it was his hometown there was some kind of payola going on. Even though I didn’t win, I still got more notoriety and recognition then he did.
TS: Where did you go after the World Championships?
Aladdin: We had the New Music Seminar and that’s where I got him (Cut Master Swift) back. I faded him in the New Music Seminar and it just went on from there. I then went to Yo! MTV Raps and had the pleasure of cutting on MTV with Dr. Dre and Ed Lover. It was really exciting. Then from there I moved on to producing. I worked on my own album with WC. We were a group called Low Profile and our album was called “We’re In This Together.” After that, I worked on Ice T’s OG album. I also worked on King T’s “Act A Fool” and “Tha Triflin” albums.
TS: Take us back to Low Profile. How did that group come together?
Aladdin: Low Profile came together from one dude I met, his name was Zero. He was the original Low Profile MC with me, DJ Aladdin. We had a record that we put out called “Hip Hop I Crave” along with a song called “My Dream.” At the time he (Zero) didn’t think that hip hop was going to be a successful avenue, as it is right now, so he decided to go off to college. WC came along and that’s where it ended up. He was originally the beat boxer of the group, then when Zero left, he became more of the rapper of the group.
TS: So you guys put out that album but it was only that one release. You guys never did anything else after that. What was that all about?
Aladdin: Basically what it was, we did that one album, but we were tied to a bogus contract with Priority. It kind of put us in the position where we really didn’t get a chance to make that next album. We were too busy trying to get out of that contract. We were selling units but we weren’t seeing any money so we had to mess with the streets and do what we had to do in order to see money. It kind of put us in the situation where Low Profile broke up and WC went his way and I went my way. I started producing with Ice T and doing things on that level.
TS: It was a cool parting, right?
Aladdin: Yeah, it was cool. We just decided to do our own thing where we can both really get paid. Once we got out of that contract we really didn’t try to focus on bringing it back together, we just went our own ways. From there, it went to me messing with Ice T and him with Ice Cube eventually.
TS: You also put out your own project with Ice T. I remember it was called DJ Aladdin Presents Ice T & The West Coast Riders. You guys did that Hit Em Up song.
TS: Tell us about that. I love that song. That shit went hard.
Aladdin: It was with all gang members. A lot of them came from the Crip side of the Bloods & Crips album. I grabbed them because I had come up affiliated with a Crip background. So I put out a song with them and it was Hit Em Up. One of the rappers got killed and that put a hold on a lot of things.
TS: All of these years that have passed, what have you been doing?
Aladdin: I was going through a lot of different things, street hustlin’ – I was incarcerated for a minute. I’m coming back really trying to get on my feet. I have a mix CD coming out called DJ Aladdin Presents G- String Mix Volume 1. That’s what I’ve been doing now. I’ve also been doing a couple of shows. People have been hiring me here and there, so it’s been real cool. Ever since that started taking off, I’ve been back in the mix doing things. I also want people to know that if you go to my Myspace, I’ve got videos of me battling and cutting it up back in the day.
TS: No shit? You’ve got videos up there now?
Aladdin: I’ve got like 3 videos up there with me cutting on my Myspace.
TS: Word? I’ve got to see that. I must’ve missed that the last time I was on your page.
Aladdin: Yeah put it in the interview so people can check that out.
TS: I heard the songs that you have on your Myspace. You produced those?
TS: A couple of those cuts sounded like some stripper pole music there (laughs).
Aladdin: Yeah (laughs) exactly. It’s got different little mixes where females can get into it because I am around that vibe of people. You know, girls and stuff like that. It’s not just all deep hip hop with my first mix but it is bangin’ street though. If you listen to the whole mix you will see that it;s not just all that type of music. I made it to where it’s universal.
TS: When are we going to see it?
Aladdin: It will be available to order next week on CDBaby. That’s where they can check for it to get it. Eventually it will get to the stores in like a month from now but really right now, stores are on the backburner because a lot of people are ordering online. They’ll be able to go to my site and order it or go to CDBaby.
TS: You’ve been laying low for this whole time. What’s your take on the West Coast with you being a veteran and all?
Aladdin: Right now we need to change our era as far as the killing and the negativity in rap, you understand what I’m saying? Really just bringing it back to where people can enjoy it again. Where it can bring a lot of unity and togetherness, to get back that recognition that the West Coast needs to have to get back in the game. The South took it and ran with it. The East Coast has always been the kings of it. Right now with the West Coast, we really need to find our niche. We need to go in that direction where we can show the world that we aren’t just producing negative rap. There is positive rap out here.
TS: Do you think that we kind of just let the reality of our streets take over the direction of our music?
Aladdin: That’s what happened, man. Too much reality done turned everybody in that direction. A lot of things now, people can’t have simple fights or disagreements without someone pulling out a gun. Also, people need to understand that a lot of these songs are just entertainment and not so much reality. A lot of these rappers out here are not really living like the way they are in songs. It kind of messes things up because some of the ones that are speaking on those things, aren’t living it and the ones who are living it, you don’t really hear about because they don’t get exposure. It’s just the way it is now. Rappers have to get shot in order to get recognition. We just have to go back to bringing a real style and uniqueness to things.
TS: West Coast rap was pretty damn fun especially back in your era as a DJ.
Aladdin: It was man because you didn’t have a lot of the people directing peoples minds to doing the stuff that they are doing now. You had a lot of different styles of rap. You had the L.A. Dream Team, they had the party rap. You also had the story rap. You had even street rap but even street rap wasn’t trying to direct people to do stuff. Even Ice T’s rap was street but it was still like stories and stuff that he’s been through. So if we can just really get our niche back in the game it can really work again. A lot of people are still coming to the West Coast for good talent but the talent has to know how to explore their horizons in the game.
TS: I think we also need to see the return of the DJ too. The DJ made it very fun with scratching and all of that. We don’t really see that in music in general, let alone the West Coast rap scene.
Aladdin: That’s why I am glad that you are doing the type of interviews that you are doing with legendary DJs and bringing people back. Right now I am just really trying to do mix CD’s and build a buzz back so people can really, you know, bring the DJ world back to the forefront.
TS: It seems that very recently a lot of legendary West Coast DJs are starting to resurface again. You have DJ Crazy Toones, Sir Jinx, DJ Pooh and now yourself, working on CD projects! It’s good to see the older established guys step up again and do the thing.
Aladdin: Exactly. Through that we can kind of give some direction again with the younger generation. That’s where it’s at. It takes leaders to step up and make positive moves and that’s what we’ve got to do.
TS: As we end this, would you like to end us off with something? Or give some shout outs?
Aladdin: A big shout out to the young generation and a shout out to the OG’s that have been in the game. You know, that have really laid the foundation for a brother like me to come out in the game and have the opportunity to do what I’ve been doing. Basically just telling everybody to check for my new mix CD, DJ Aladdin Presents G String Mix Volume 1. It’s the first strong mix that I am really coming with because I am going to be bringing a lot of mixes out.
TS: One more question. So after this CD are you going to be flooding us with more stuff continually?
Aladdin: Oh man, that’s where I am going to be breaking new artists eventually. I am going to bring out new artists, but it’s like right now I am really trying to get the younger generation to become familiar with me again. Once I start bringing out these rappers, they will automatically know what’s up with me. You’ve got a legendary DJ that’s really trying to come back and put it down.
TS: Well I will tell them to holler at you because I know a lot of them dudes.
Aladdin: Yeah man, fo sho! Thank you for this interview. I appreciate it.
TS: Thank you and congratulations on returning to the scene.
Aladdin: Fa sho! Much love!!