What does a day in the life of DJ Fresh look like?
“I get up at a good, 8 O’clock, 9 O’clock, I get my work out in, feel me? Before I get up and get on the social media and shit, I don’t like to start my day with that, I gotta start my day with just regular shit, you know what I mean? The I check all my social media stuff, my network, that kind of thing. My day is pretty much eazy-e, I’m just grindin’ pretty much all day, make something happen, being in the right place, [at the] right time. I brainstorm. See what I can make happen. Dot my Is, cross my Ts.”
How did you get the gig to Deejay for Nas’s tour and what was that experience like?
“DJ Ruckus used to Deejay for Freddie Foxxx and Freddie Foxxx and Nas had a relationship. I happened to be in L.A., the rest of our DJ crew was in New York, I was the only one of the West Coast. Ruckus and Freddie Foxx put my name in Nas’s ear and Nas called me up about a week later and we spoke on the phone. At the time I was in the Bay Area, he flew me out to L.A. and that’s how we hooked up. That experience to me was some real rap shit, you know what I mean? It was the Nas vs. Jay-Z era, hip-hop was crazy, it was before the internet, the ‘show’ was that thing, to the fans in meant more. It was a great experience, I learned a lot, I was exposed to a lot, like [realizing] I can make a living off of this. I was young when I did that, I was like nineteen years old. I experienced a little bit of the Golden Era, it was great man.”
What after that made you decide to begin on the production side of things?
“When I was on tour I was making good money, but then when I come back off tour I spend money, I don’t live crazy lavish, but this day to day living, I was running out of bread. I had a regular job deejaying at like a skateboard shop, so it was in my field, but it wasn’t like tour money. I started making beats or whatever because I hear everyone coming out with mixtapes. The mixtape thing was cool but the life of a mixtape was very short, now it’s even way shorter but back then it was even short. I always wanted something that people ten years from then, ten years from now, would go back and listen to. There was a lot of dope mixtapes that came from those old DJs but you probably not checking for it like you checking for old DJ Priemer or old Dilla albums. I [decided] want to invest my energy into these beats. That was the initial reason why I wanted to veer off into production.”
What influences do you have coming from the Bay Area?
“Huge influence man. When I was a kid I used to like a lot of East Coast shit because I was originally from Baltimore. I was into Native Tongues, you know just East Coast stuff. As I got older I started listening to ya know, the more local stuff, the Bay Area Giants. It wasn’t so much the lyrics, but as far as the symphasizers they were using, the heavy bass line, you know the signature Bay Area sound. That was like a swag, I took it all in, I just wanted to rock a party. I learned those records, it definitely had an influence on my production.
How did you get started with the ‘Tonite Show Series’?
“The original mixtape was you would record so and so songs on a tape, a real cassette tape. Then fast-forward some years when the internet is poppin’, people take in the hottest songs, instrumentals and getting the hottest rapper to rap to those, using it as a promotional tool. I didn’t want to do that either, I wanted to use my own beats to get some of these dope rappers, push artists, and it’s all original and we can sell this thing. Iv’e always tried to work smarter not harder and never short-change myself. I hooked up with the homie Mistah F.A.B, he was working on a freestyle vidoe and video editing was my thing. We sold a bunch of copies, we did a trade off and he recorded over my beats which became ‘The Tonite Show.’ I didn’t know it was going to be ‘The Tonite Show’, I just wanted to get my music out there. He came to the studio, we knocked out a bunch of tracks in a few days and that was the birth of ‘The Tonite Show.’”
What ‘Tonite Show’ albums do you think went overlooked?
“I think the Raekwon one was definitely overlooked. I feel like the recent Trae Tha Truth record is overlooked, it is a fairly short project but people didn’t gravitate towards that project the way I was expecting them to.
Besides J. Stalin, what artist would you say compliments your style the best?
“Besides J. Stalin, damn I would say Young Gully. He is a talented lyricist. The sound I have with him is a totally different sound than I have with J. Stalin. He has an appeal to being on the forefront with the rest of these dudes, the J. Coles, all them. It takes the right backing to propel that but when it comes to talent and rhyming ability, he has that.”
If you could produce a ‘Tonite Show’ album with any artist, dead or alive, who would it be?
“Dead of alive, shit, if I had my way I definitely would have had one with Mac Dre. I’d still like to do one with E-40. You said one but damn man I’m thinking of a whole bunch of them. Pac man. Outside Cali though, I’m gonna go with Jay-Z.”
Who are the hottest artists right now?
“I’d definitely put Freddie [Gibbs] in there man, Freddie is a real problem man, bar for bar, he’s got it. I’d put him up there. I got to put J. Stalin up there, he constantly maintaining. Danny Brown man, I really like Danny Brown, I’d like to work with him one day. I like Chance The Rapper, I think he is very creative. Kendrick Lamar, got to say Kendrick Lamar. He’s like a new age Pac. When I say Pac, Pac’s movement was definitely way more hardcore but I feel like Kendrick’s impact on especially West Coast rap is very unique and powerful. He’s changed things and is doing things, he is very empowering. His future is.. We are not going to see this guy jumping back to the table. I know the streets all day, the streets are with me, but we are more conscious than gangster right now. With the gangster shit today there’s no more rules, no guidelines, anything goes, you know? We need people to speak up and let it be known how it should be. I like Joey Bada$$ too, I don’t listen to a lot of his stuff but I like what he do, he’s fresh.”
What current producers do you admire?
“Flying Lotus. You can’t get away from DJ Mustard. I got to tilt my hat to Mustard. He’s from the West Coast and he’s got the torch so I can’t have nothing but love. I can’t think of a lot of producers, there is a lot of beat I like but I don’t know. I know it sounds crazy as a DJ but I don’t listen to a whole lot of shit. There is so much out there, you know how it is. I wouldn’t be surprised if 25,000 new mixtapes come out every God damn Tuesday.