Not only was November 4th, 2008 a day in history for Barack Obama, in becoming the first black president of the United States, it was also a big day for DJ Unk, of Atlanta. His sophomore album, 2econd Season, hit stores. After spending time hitting up high schools with his first single “Show Out,” and working on his new mixtape with DJ Storm and DJ Jelly, Unk took the time out with BallerStatus to talk about his current projects. Just like the Obama camp, Unk decided to keep his campaign clean, focusing more on his music rather than spending any time dissing the opponents, leaving that little Joe Budden incident to the primaries.
BallerStatus.com: You just finished with a really big opportunity. You have a song featured on the “NBA 2K9” soundtrack and you recently performed at the launch party in NYC. How was that?
DJ Unk: [The track is called] “In Your Face”. I made that song, in particular, for our Fox 5 sports. I decided to do a song for that, so they could play it on the news channel and I was blessed they ended up putting it on the game. I had fun kickin’ it with Kevin Garnett, meeting him for the first time in person.
BallerStatus.com: You started out with mixtapes. While there are obvious benefits of being a mixtape artist, are there also any downfalls?
DJ Unk: Sometimes you might have some bad mixtapes, it’s just your formula, if you going to keep going. It was hard. I just kept pushing and putting out good music. We got a good team — DJ Jelly, DJ Montay, those guys — they do wonders on mixtapes.
BallerStatus.com: I know you didn’t start seriously playing the turntables until high school, but did you always know that it was something you wanted to do?
DJ Unk: I used to go to Blockbuster and rent DJ battles. You know, the guys who do the tricks the behind the back scratches? I’d watch a lot of those movies. I have an uncle, DJ Goldfinger, and I used to come to his parties and watch him all the time and whenever he’d go use the bathroom, I’d go mess around. He showed me a chunk of my DJ skills. But when I got in high school, I stopped playing the sports and picked up the turntable because I wanted to make some money.
BallerStatus.com: Who were some of your other mentors?
DJ Unk: DJ Jelly, DJ Montay, DJ Assault, DJ Hershey, DJ Triple, DJ Kid Capri.
BallerStatus.com: So when you decided to start rapping, was it more of a business move?
DJ Unk: That’s another water I always wanted to test, jump in with no clothes on and see if I come out clean. I just have fun. I got really tired of DJing because there was a lot going on in the DJ era and I saw so much. I had the opportunity to go on tour with Swizz Beatz, and I saw a lot on the road. I saw that was a big opportunity and I wondered what it was like to hit the stage. So I started rapping on the mixtapes and the label liked it and encouraged me to keep going.
BallerStatus.com: Do you think it’s important for all DJs to experiment with the rap game or it something only a few should stick to?
DJ Unk: It’s different strokes for different folks. You have guys like DJ Khaled, DJ Clue and DJ Drama, who don’t rap. They just always make good music and good mixtapes.
BallerStatus.com: I know you’ve made comments about DJs not getting enough respect, but do you feel like they are starting to get more than they have been in recent years?
DJ Unk: I think a lot of the respect is going back to the DJ because everybody’s working with them, they waking up. They want to get their music played to the DJ. I see a lot of respect going back just off of that. They realize they gotta get right with the DJ. I know a lot of people listen to songs that are lyrical, but those songs don’t get played in the club. That’s what DJs are looking out for, and that’s what artists are trying to make now. But everything is going to recycle itself again. It’s going to go back to gangster rap, not that it left like that, but it just regenerates.
BallerStatus.com: What is the pressure of making club hits like?
DJ Unk: You gotta catch that groove, that one thing that’s going to keep them dancing in the club. What’s going to be the next thing? We never know, but it’s going to be someone coming out with it. I go directly in the clubs and make my songs.
BallerStatus.com: And would you say that people don’t really understand that the reason they might view southern rappers as one hit wonders is because of the fact that mostly make club bangers and the turnaround is very short?
DJ Unk: You took the words right out of my mouth. I’m learning the game a little bit more. If you have one song that’s tearing up the radio waves, you good. Why drop another single? You can put it out there when it starts to die down.
BallerStatus.com: The new album, what are we seeing on this different from the last one?
DJ Unk: We got a little grown and sexy on this one, the sophomore album. It’s like a follow up to Beat’n Down Yo Block! I named it 2econd Season because I done been around the world four or five times, and its like Round 2 for me. I chose “Show Out” as my first single to show we goin’ to show out. I was going to put “In Your Face,” but look where that’s at, so we goin’ to show out. I got a second single called “She Freaky” with Ray J and that’s goin’ to blow the radio waves. It’s a go, believe that. If you liked the first album, you’re goin go really love this one. You can basically play the album from the beginning to the end.