DJ Chose Is Unselfish

DJ Chose

DJ Chose‘s unselfishness plays a special role in business. He prides himself on being a dot connector: someone with the know-how required to build meaningful relationships. 

The multi-platinum, multi-hyphenate artist has delivered RIAA-certified songs for Megan Thee Stallion, NBA Youngboy, Kevin Gates, Fredo Bang, Kodak Black, and more. To some [people], he’s a key architect of a boundary-pushing sound in rap, the go-to guy for hit records who doesn’t mind sharing. 

“It means a lot to me to really catch these artists at the forefront of their careers,” Chose tells Dirty Glove Bastard. “I almost feel like it’s my duty in this culture to make sure that I’m featuring, collaborating, looking for the next big act, giving them hits.” 

Although we’re years removed from Megan Thee Stallion’s “come up” phase, DJ Chose was instrumental in her growth. He’s paved the way for his own success by being an assist man –  lending a hand, beat, or doing whatever it takes to get the job done. “I was just shooting music videos for someone that I believe in,” he recalls, revisiting the sunny afternoon “Stalli (Freestyle),” Megan’s first run in with viral fame, was created. 

The process of becoming DJ Chose deals in being a jack of all trades. His altruistic approach to relationship building has cemented his position in today’s rap landscape as a trusted collaborator. MULTI, his latest album, is the result of developing mutual trust over a prolonged period of time. “I’m more of a tool in the game,” he says, comparing his usefulness and adaptability to an all-purpose utility. 

DJ Chose, how are we feeling today? 

I moved into this big ass, rich ass neighborhood and every time I leave the house, I fucking get pulled over. They give me warnings and bullshit but it’s like, bro, y’all just fucking with me at this point. So yeah, I’m fresh off of a pull over [laughs]. 

The racial disparities in policing, especially for Black men, are beyond problematic. 

It’s definitely ongoing and it’s picked up mainly because A, I’m in the biggest Benz that they make; B, I’m in a white neighborhood; C, I’m Black – so, they just be fucking with me at this point. [She] walked up to the car and was like, “I need your license and registration,” and I’m like, “What I do?” She literally looks and says, “Oh, your front windshield is tinted.” I’m like, “Man, I just bought this car from Benz.” I ain’t really got nothing to do with a sunshade on my car. I told her my license ain’t switch yet because I just moved here, but it amazes me how they just fuck with you. I told her in the middle of the pull over, “I hope you get the real criminals” [laughs]. 

It’s good to hear you laughing, though. Let’s shift focus here: talk to me about the creative process behind your self-produced album, MULTI — what were you looking for in those sessions? 

I just wanted to paint a picture because I finally had eyeballs and people paying attention, so I just wanted to make sure that I put out something that in ten years I could enjoy myself. [I’m] not just making music for the moment. [I’m] not just making hit records that are based off of TikTok, Instagram, or how toxic the world is. I just wanted to make a body of work that represented me, mix it up with the times of what’s going on. Realistically, when I listen to [MULTI] I hear music that I’ll continue to enjoy ten years from now because I chose to not ride the wave.  

What inspires you to create? 

I’ve seen a lot of the things that I talk about. If I’m talking about women, that’s real life situations. My song “THICK,” I’ve really had my experiences and run-ins with thick women. All of the deep cuts that might’ve sounded written or anything like that, even if they were street, I really been through it. That might not be the side of my life that I glorify, but all my brothers in the streets, and of course when your brothers in the streets, you in the streets. I’m just not the one that was ever glorifying that nor was that somewhere that I wanted to be forreal. When you listen to [MULTI] I’m giving you scenario situations – speaking on my trust issues, love, and just getting some money. Those are the things that happen in my life regularly. I’m regularly running into situations where I don’t know who to trust. It’s almost like I’m always dealing with someone. Then as far as the money, that’s everyday, 24/7, I’m tryna find the next bag. Those are things that I like to speak on fluently and a lot because I’m really going through that. 

Your record “THICK (Remix)” featuring Megan Thee Stallion was a huge success. It’s also important to note that you both have primary rights for the song — is that something you aimed to accomplish? 

With most of my records, I’m really building relationships with these people – it ain’t nobody I’m just dropping a bag to. A lot of the features I have are really people that I’ve done something for already and I finally got my wave and I needed [a verse] so I got it back in return. It’s like pulling teeth sometimes, too, but somebody gotta do it [laughs]. 

How important is it to collaborate with other artists? Some creatives pride themselves on being self-sufficient. 

For me, I’m real big on working with everybody, in a sense. Majority of the people I got gold and platinum records with, majority of those people, they all started from somewhere, and so I pride myself on being the first person to bring NBA Youngboy a hit; I pride myself on bringing Fredo Bang a hit; having a hit with Kevin Gates before the world was crazy about him; having a hit with Megan Thee Stallion. It means a lot to me to really catch these artists at the forefront of their careers. I’m all about features. Some people don’t, but I’m more of a tool in the game. I almost feel like it’s my duty in this culture to make sure that I’m featuring, collaborating, looking for the next big act, giving them hits. Sometimes you don’t get to benefit off those people but I still push the culture whether anybody looks at me for it or not. It don’t matter, I went four-times with this artist, and in the history book, they gon’ speak about this song that I produced until the end of time.

Texas, specifically Houston, is home to iconic mainstays of the music community such as Beyoncé, Travis Scott, DJ Screw, and others. What does DJ Chose bring to the table that no one else does? 

I’m like the dot connector, and it’s not like I’m tryna be the gatekeeper – I don’t want to be the gatekeeper. I just want to be the person to connect the dots, which I have been. I don’t think there’s a DJ in Houston that’s gone platinum, produced, wrote and actually had his own platinum song. I play an unselfish role. Ten years from now when people think of me, they’ll look at me as an assist man. I’m the assist man that got a ring, though. I’m not just an assist man that do dishes all day – I actually got a championship. I got my own platinum song, too, and I gave everyone else a platinum song. I hope they look at me as someone who paved the way for a lot of people and was very unselfish. A lot of these songs I could’ve kept: I know a hit beat when I make it. But I ain’t have no problem with sharing the love. I’m just that point guard who don’t mind kicking it out to the person with an open three.

Your unselfish approach to relationship building has really paid off, too.

Before Megan was anybody, I used to shoot her videos and I used to produce for her, and record her – I was like her all in one stop. I always knew Megan would be successful so I didn’t mind letting her lead the way while I assisted. I knew one day I would get my verse and it would all make sense. I don’t gotta move unselfishly to get it right now. I know what God got for me.  

What’s your earliest memory of a DJ Chose-directed, Megan Thee Stallion music video? 

The video that went viral for her is called “Stalli (Freestyle),” I literally shot that outside of my old house. She shot it on my car, I had a Camaro. She showed up to my house one day, we had a studio session, and within that I was like, “We need to shoot this” and we shot it outside. That was the song that springboarded her to a different place to where every label wanted to sign her. I actually got songs that I didn’t produce that I shot for her, and that’s what I mean by being unselfish – I didn’t benefit from these songs, nor did I get paid. I was just shooting music videos for someone that I believe in. That’s what I mean by I’m the person that’s really passing the ball and also scoring, too.

From a DJ’s perspective, what go-to spots should up-and-coming artists target in order to break ground and be heard? 

Every year it changes. It used to be the DJs but now I believe it’s social media – TikTok. I would say the DJs are secondary. You can break a song to 500 people at a party, but you can break a song to a million people on the internet. I just think it’s getting way more competitive now. It’s so much music, so many ears, so many eyeballs, if your song ain’t really “that” song, it won’t work on the internet either. Back in the day, you could probably get away with an okay song that had a good beat. Now, that shit gotta have a good beat and it gotta be talking about something.

Platforms like TikTok have definitely made it easier for artists to be discovered.

Everything that we got now has made it easier because DJs used to hold they nuts on niggas all the time. You can drop a song right now, promote it for a week and then move on. Back in the day, if you popped off with one song, you had to work [the record] for damn near a year. Now, it’s about knowing your target audience and trying to work them. Back then, when people were going to the club, that might’ve not been your target audience. You could’ve been doing R&B and tried to get your music played in a street club but that’s the only club in your city. It was just no real way to get to the crowd that you wanted to. Now, it’s still kind of tricky, but the only people that’s gon’ win in this shit are the people that sit down and figure out the science of it. 

Your approach to artist development deals in being multifaceted — writing, producing, creative directing. With these different skills in pocket, how are you able to make time for yourself and enjoy the benefits of slowing down?

It’s hard sometimes, but to be honest, I’m successful. It’s a matter of “when” I want to (slow down), and I don’t. My lady always like,”let’s go here, let’s go there,” and we take trips. Sometimes, I be on some shit where I’d prefer working. I actually enjoy what I do – this isn’t a job that I do for money. I don’t enjoy the politics, but I enjoy making music. It’s like I’m never not working because this right here brings me real joy. 

Turning a passion into a lifestyle – I know that’s a very rewarding feeling. 

I like that. That’s my next album title, lifestyle. 

Two years ago, you made it clear that you’re not DJing anymore: “Don’t try to book me. You not gon’ get me to DJ. I’m only doing shows — the price is up.” With that in mind, would you consider doing away with the “DJ” part of your stage name?

I tried to but nobody in my staff would allow it. I think I’ma do it this year just because I want to and I’ma stick to Chose – but I’ma leave my tag how it is. I love it. I’m also in a different chapter, musically. I feel like now, my music should just be Chose. My DJ tag can be all over it but I’m almost perfectly fine with however it goes – DJ Chose or Chose suits me. I should’ve been let it go but I had a bunch of people telling me not to, and that’s probably one of the smartest things I’ve done because it single handedly gave me my own section in the game. If I was compared to every one of the rappers that came out during the time that “THICK” came out, just because I was a rapper, I would probably be done right now. But since I have “DJ” in front of my name and it was a lit record, people look at me like I’m a lit individual. There’s no way to put an expiration date on me. Plus, every other month I got something new that I produced and it say, “Ain’t that DJ Chose over there.” I think that (my stage name) was a blessing in disguise because yeah, it’s people that’s standoffish with me, but it’s people that obviously don’t see me as a threat – they just look at me as, “Yo, he produce, he make beats, and he DJ – why wouldn’t we use one of his beats.” 

What does that next chapter in your sonics sound like? 

I think the next me will be relentless to what I want to make. If I hear an Afrobeats record and I wanna do Afrobeats, cool. I’m really finna tap into my, I would call it, advance DJ Khaled. DJ Khaled is dope, he’s someone I’ve looked up to this entire time but he don’t rap and he probably don’t produce or write any of [the music]. That’s no shade ‘cause he got an ear and he’s one of those people where, when he’s in the room, he makes the room better. I think now, it’s time for me to do the same but the only difference is I can write, produce, and vision it out. It’s not like I’m out here buying songs or picking out hits, I’m really walking into sessions and vibing with artists. Half of my songs came from me playing artists hits. I’m ready to get on more of a global level: I just wanna broaden my horizon and wingspan.

About the Author

Derrius Edwards
Derrius is a music industry professional with experience in content strategy and editorial writing, sharing relevant and resonating stories as a conduit for hip-hop culture advancement.

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