HHF Interview: DJ Shaun Hilltop

In this interview, DC-based DJ Shaun Hilltop talks about the “Hilltop Radio Show”, the art of being a DJ, and the three major tours he’s been working on under the “Hilltop Radio Show Entertainment” name.

 Interviewed by Michael ATG

 

HHF: Thank you, Sir, for taking out of your day to be a part of this interview. Starting off, you’ve been a DJ for over 20 years and grew up watching DJ’s such as Red Alert, Chuck Chillout, but were majorly influenced by your uncle, DJ Eric Thomas. Now my question is, how exactly did your uncle influence you to begin your career?

DJ Shaun Hilltop: (pauses) He influenced me because I used to go to radio stations at that time and load his albums up. Back in the day, the DJs at the radio stations, used to have the turntables. I would load the albums on the turntables for him that particular night, you know that he’s DJ’ing. And that right there kinda … kinda grew a passion, and a love for just watching him, you know DJ, and you know playing old school music from way back in the day. That’s what influenced me to be a DJ today.

HHF: So you basically just put everything in motion for him. You helped him get everything set up.

DJ Shaun Hilltop: Yes, yes sir I did. Sure did.

HHF: OK, years later, when you started off your name was DJ Big Daddy Shaun, right?

DJ Shaun Hilltop: Yeah, DJ Big Daddy Shaun was the DJ name I used in high school and when I got into college, in the college scene, I used that up until I took a break. And I went into officiating college football, high school football, and then I recently – and it’s about ten years now, I came back into DJ’ing, and changed my name to just DJ Shaun.

HHF: You’ve been all over with it and taken every outlet you could possibly take.

DJ Shaun: Yes. Weddings… family reunions… park jams… just little, little events. Anything I could get my hands on, I did it.

HHF: Now, I know of course in the DC Area, and the underground scene you’re a legendary DJ among the airwaves, and off the airwaves. I can say, from what I’ve seen, and what I know, the drive you have is impeccable, to say the least.

DJ Shaun: Right.

HHF: How do you keep it all together? What drives you the most to go so hard, and stay so focused, all these years that you’ve been in the game?

DJ Shaun: (pauses) People man. The artist. The real artist, that are real to the game, currently hip hop. So, so you know, they keep my drive, and my passion, and keep me motivated to be able to, you know, do my radio stations, go on the air and play the music that everybody wants to hear in the clubs, you know clubs, park jams, things like that, etc. The artist, you know, the listeners.

HHF: Ok, just the art of the music fuels you, I understand.

DJ Shaun: Exactly!

HHF: As an artist myself, I 100% understand that the music keeps you going man. It keeps you wanting to keep pushing, I definitely understand that one Sir.

DJ Shaun: And artist like yourself, that’s motivated, and putting 120% into your craft makes MY craft, even better because I know I’m getting good, positive music that the listeners, love, listen, and gravitate to.

HHF: We really bounce off of each other. You know, like, as you get fueled by us and that we push you… The DJ’s pushin’ our music and givin’ us those spins, that only motivates us to go even harder.

DJ Shaun: Exactly, exactly.

HHF: Right, it’s all one big vibe man, that’s how I look at it. And uh, speaking of….

DJ Shaun: (begins to speak)

HHF: I’m sorry, go ahead.

DJ Shaun: And let me jump on this thing. I don’t know if you’re gonna get to this question, I’m probably jumping a little forth, while it’s on my mind.

HHF: You’re fine, go ahead.

DJ Shaun: The art of being a DJ. Being a DJ is just not two turntables, a mixer, a microphone, speakers and a headphone. Being a DJ is you have to tell a story, while you’re mixin’ and scratchin’. You get what I’m sayin’?

HHF: Right, right.

DJ Shaun: It’s like you writing your lyrics, your lyrics are coming from your mind as an artist.

HHF: Yeah, from the heart.

DJ Shaun: And you’re writing it down, and you’re perfecting a story. You’re perfecting a craft. So people can be like, you know when they’re listening to your music, they can close their eyes and be like “Damn, you know I’m feelin’ him, I’m wit’ him on what he’s writing.” And that’s the way that I take my profession into the turntables, because here’s the thing. You wanna keep the crowd pumped up, you wanna keep the crowd on the dance floor.

HHF: Of course, of course

DJ Shaun: By all means necessary. When you know play that one wrong album, or that one wrong song, and people start walking off the dance floor… It’s hard to get them back on the dance floor. So it’s the same thing, DJ’ing is a craft. You have to tell a story with your music.

HHF: Right, you gotta make sure you keep they attention, keep ‘em tuned in.

DJ Shaun: Yessir.

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HHF: OK now I know you manage a slew of quality, underground artist as an A&R for IMG records, under Universal Records.

DJ Shaun: Yes.

HHF: A couple of the artist includes; Patricia MyTime, who wrote for SWV, which is one of my favorite old school groups. Now with you managing those artist, you basically gotta, you know, help them along their way as to continue to perfect their own craft, so what’s really the main thing you try to teach your artist, while they’re under your watch to help them succeed?

DJ Shaun: The keyword on that… is patience.

HHF: Yessir. Yes sir.

DJ Shaun: Have patience… Have patience, patience, patience!

HHF: Right, cause that goes a long way …

DJ Shaun: Listen. Listen to what your management is telling you. Understand the music that you’re in. Understand the culture that you’re in. Learn about what you’re doing, then YOU perfect the craft. It’s not all about sitting – of course you know, you’re an artist – it’s not all about sitting down writing a rhyme, going to the studio, and putting it all on an album. It’s all about understanding why you’re writing …

HHF: Yeah, it’s much deeper than that.

DJ Shaun: (continues) what you’re looking for, your purpose. Your purpose, you’re creating something and waiting, and having the patience to get to the next level. You got some artist that rush, and once they rush themselves …

HHF: They wind up flopping.

DJ Shaun: They wind up flat lining. And once you flat line… it’s hard to get back up there again.

HHF: That’s 100% right. That’s 100% right.

DJ Shaun: And make sure you quote me on that…

“The key element of being a talented artist under good management is having patience.”

HHF: Understood. I’m definitely quoting you on that one, Sir. I got you. (Both laugh)

HHF: I’ve already named a couple people, who you felt helped you become the highly respected DJ you are today, who exactly are your Top 3 influences since you’ve been in the game?

DJ Shaun: First one would be, Steven Russell-Harts, of Troop. He’s the number one guy, because we have, a bond and a connection with one another that can’t be broken. I’m his manager. And he believes highly of what I’ve been doing, and I’ve been taking his career to the next level.

Even though, he’s been in the game for 20 plus years, he allows me to come inside his circle, and push him even more. So when he’s being pushed, he’s pushing me also to be the best manager, the best DJ I possibly can.

HHF: Right.

DJ Shaun: And my second one would be Gymini. He used to be formerly of the 69 Boyz. He’s another one. I push him to a higher level. He pushes me to a higher level. I also manage him as well.

HHF: OK. You bounce off of each other.

DJ Shaun: Yes. And my third, the third one I would say, is my business partner – she’s an artist as well – and that’s Rayn Jackson. She the kind of artist, that believes in what we can do as a tag team. And she pushes me, as far as with management, and my DJ. And I push her, as far as management, and her singing career. So they would be my top three, that I would honestly say, yeah.

HHF: Alright, I’m glad you did bring up Rayn Jackson. Because I seen that you dabble into the fashion industry and that you two are in charge of the Entertainment for the Ebony Fashion Fair, in Los Angeles, CA, as well as the “Real Fashion meets Real Music” Tour. What made you wanna get into the whole fashion industry?

DJ Shaun: (pauses) A good friend of mine, Kenneth Sampson, out of Philadelphia. We became friends on Facebook. He inboxed me, and said “DJ Shaun, would you mind coming to Allentown, PA, and DJ’ing this fashion show?”. And I’ve done fashion shows, quote unquote, but nothing to where this fashion show I was particularly involved. I really loved it… enjoyed myself, and everybody enjoyed the music that I was playing, which was old school music like back in the day, you know like Bel Biv Devo… you know, “Percolator”… All those… (pauses)

HHF: The classics, the classics!

DJ Shaun: The classics. They allowed me to come into their house, and that’s the music that I played, and they loved the selection – why? Because it’s like I said earlier, they never left the dance floor. Actually they were coming up to me… (saying) “Can you play this, can you play this, can you play this?”. So the more, and more that you get request, the more and more you can become a better DJ. But that was the reason why I got into fashion, because of Kenneth Sampson. Coming out of Philadelphia.

HHF: That’s very interesting. Alright, I also see you guys are doing big things with the tours and everything too. Speaking of the tours, I want you to break down your current three major projects. You currently have all three projects currently touring the US, under “Hilltop Radio Show Entertainment”; “Silence The Violence”, “Grown And Sexy” and the “Classic 90’s” Tour. What’s your vision behind these projects, how did they really come about?

DJ Shaun: OK, the “Silence The Violence” Tour came about last year, in October. When a couple of young kids I knew, from refereeing – a long, long time ago – got killed.

HHF: Mm. Ah man… R.I.P.

DJ Shaun: It kinda like bothered me a little bit inside. But then I was like you know, I have to do something to not be the ones that talk about… I have to be the ones that’s gonna be about it. So I reached out to Gymini, and I reached out to Bonecrusher. I reached out to JT Money, which are all, you know, mainstream artist and spoke with them about the idea that I had. They took their idea, and now we’re starting our… Our first adventure, with these three in Chicago. What better place to start than Chicago?

HHF: That’s a blessing… Yes. They need it the most, to be honest. They really do, and I haven’t heard from Bonecrusher in a while. So to hear that he’s out here doing positive stuff as well, that’s a major blessing too; that’s a major blessing.

DJ Shaun: Yeah. Bonecrusher, and JT both have two hot singles that are out right now. Which is really, really good and Gymini will be in the studio come next month, and working on his new single. It’s gonna be nice and fun for everybody to tune in and listen to.

As for the “Grown and Sexy” Tour, it’s made up of artist Troop, Public Announcement, Hi-5, and now I added another young group from out of Atlanta called Emerge. These visionaries named Emerge are the up and coming Bad Boys of R&B. And what I mean by “Bad Boys of R&B”… I mean they have that Silk, that H-Town, that Jodeci, that love… The girls will gravitate to them, and love the music that they’re singing.

HHF: OK. That classic R&B feel to ’em.

DJ Shaun: That classic R&B, putting these guys with classic R&B artist. And Steven Russell-Harts will be debuting his new – one of his singles off his new upcoming album in August called “60’s Baby”.

HHF: Do we have a date in August for that?

DJ Shaun: We haven’t really projected a date yet, but it will be launched in August, and “60’s Baby” is the title of that track, of that album. Yeah. And the “Classic R&B” Tour. That again, will be Troop, Hi-5, Public Announcement, Men At Large, and Rude Boys. So we’re bringing back classic 90’s, to everybody that enjoyed the 80’s and 90’s music from these groups.

HHF: Light, that’s gonna be real interesting.

DJ Shaun: Yup, and it’s crazy that I had started promoting this and we already have four cities that wanna buy this package deal with these groups.

HHF: Ah man that’s big.

DJ Shaun: And their all different states, all southern states: Alabama, Georgia, Florida, and Mississippi.

HHF: Shew, the south when it comes music overall – I can’t even just say Hip-Hop – they really been holdin’ it down, and showin’ a lot of support, and they all support each other. I think that’s what really keeps it together, down south. So yeah, that’s major, that’s definitely major right there.

DJ Shaun: Yessir!

HHF: Well I pray all tours go successful, they seem they’re all going real good right now. And as far as all your other ventures, I pray all of those continue to, you know, go well. And everything continues to go good in this career that you’ve already built. I really wanna thank you for your time today.

DJ Shaun: Thank you man, I appreciate it. Just know, Hip Hop Forum Digital Magazine, Number One Hip Hop Magazine in the world! And remember all you artist that are trying to raise to the top… Remember to have patience, and listen to management before you move on. I appreciate you, young man, for taking time out of your schedule, and even considering me to be apart of this awesome magazine.

I also just wanna give a shout out to Tash Porter, you know for getting you guys to contact me as well. Thank You.

HHF: I thank you, Sir. You make sure you have a good one, and God Bless.

DJ Shaun: You do the same, God Bless you as well brotha.

Interviewed by Michael ATG (AttackTheGame), an MC out of Dover, Delaware (born in Long Island, New York), who performs positive, upbeat hip-hop with a message in his lyrics. Following up on his last release, ‘Faith’, Michael is now working on a project called ‘The Journey.’
Michael is part of the New Black Writers Program, managed by Hip Hop Forum Digital Magazine, to support, nurture and develop the talents of Black American journalists of the future.

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Dj Ready Red of the Geto Boys Speaks With Hip Hop Forum

Hip Hop Forum Digital Magazine interview with former “Geto Boy,” Dj Ready Red

Interviewed by D-Boogie

HHF: How did you become a Geto Boy, and where are you from?

Red: Well let’s see, I am from Trenton, New Jersey. It all started when I fell in love with hip hop, after going to a family reunion in 1979, and hearing the dj spin Grandmaster Flash and Grand Wizard Theodore. So I decided that I wanted to see if I could become a dj. I was not very talkative back in those days. There used to be a dj, who I called the Kool Herc of Trenton. His name was Kenny Beal and he was my inspiration. So it was a couple of disco twins, named Joe and Henry, (may Henry R.I.P) that I used to play hooky with. The twins lived right next to my uncle so that right there was pretty risky ha-ha. One time I was inside, and the twins showed me a lot of the technical aspects. This was late maybe late 79, early 80. So right around September I asked my mom to get me some turntables. So she came up and got me two Technique SLB 101s, from a place called Silos. So I got a little Gemini mixer, and it was on. I kept quitting for years though. I would start and stop, but I also wanted to play football. In my junior year, I ended up getting hurt so I started to dj more, and I started getting the hang of it, and decided to stick with the DJ thing. So I hooked up with a group called the Mighty MCs, but they had this female MC named Queen Equality She was my first Mc. Then I started working with the Mighty Mcs which consisted of Prince Johnny c (who would later become a Geto Boy), and Radee. Through about 1981 through 1986, we stayed in jersey battling crews. So in 86, my next oldest sister asked me to come to Houston to help her out, so I did. I decided to stay in Houston after I won a battle of the Djs and I ran into NC Trahan and Jukeboxx, along with Raheem, and K-9. So we started going through negotiations, and I became a Geto Boy.

HHF: How do you feel about your time there?

Red: Well let’s rewind, I first got to Houston in January of 87, and I ended up in southwest Houston. That was when I ran into John and Lee, two brothers from Brooklyn and Philadelphia. Their father, Dr. Freddie Brown, was a dj for WKPSU, he was the jazz guy. He had a lot of records so I made a demo tape called “Outlaw”, with a TR- 909 drum machine and took it to rap a lot records at this car lot. J said he wasn’t interested in a group at the moment, but who makes the beats? So I told him, man I’m down with the Def 4.(Originally known as The Casanova Crew) So I talked to the 4, which they knew I was kind of raggedy, and doing a lot of craziness out there, and told them huge opportunity. So the next day me and J went to a pawnshop and got some equipment ( 8 channel mixing board, tr-808, technique turntables, and 2 speakers, then hooked up system up on top of the car lot and stayed there.

HHF: Would you agree that the 808, 909 etc. helped to shape your sound?

Red: It played a big part because I didn’t know how to sample at first. I wasn’t that technical back then. I mean all I could do was run the record along with the beat. On the “Making Trouble” album, I was doing a little something, but I didn’t know how to sequence yet. That wouldn’t be until the next album. My first drum machine was the TR- 606. The 808 and 909 make a good combo. I liked the 909 but it came on to become the go to machine for house music. The 808 plays a big part and is a cornerstone in hip hop and many different genres. Now to me, that’s what everyone went back to now today. That would be the trap music. So I could be one of the first trap producers if you want to call it that, even though they keep changing names. I had to figure out, what is trap music, and I noticed that the only difference is the high hats. There is no set way of doing this. That’s why I tell a lot of young cats to come mess with me. I never knock, I always try to inspire others because a lot of cats encouraged me along the way.

HHF: Now back to the Geto Boys.

Red: So I went thru the bases with K-9 and Raheem, who was the first rap artist to be signed to A&M records, and then they signed Jukeboxx. So, 1 by 1, k-9 went to jail, Raheem left, and it was just me and Jukeboxx. J started looking for replacements, and I was not happy with who he was looking at. So I said hey, I got my boy Prince Johnny C I’ve been down with now for 6 or 7 years, and he came down to Houston. By that time most of the “Making Trouble” album was already written. So Johnny C wanted them to show what he could bring to table that he would feel good about. So he wrote the song “Assassins”, and about the time he wrote that, Ronnie Mac (R.I.P) introduced us to Bushwick Bill, who became our dancer. So one night at my crib, we were watching the movie Scarface. We had the VCR going through the mixer, the turntable going through the mixer, as well as the 808, and Bill sat down on the start and stop pedal. Right at the time Scarface says “Hey Sosa, all I have in this world…” and then the beat kicked in at the same time, and I heard something. I went to work and that’s how I came up with “Scarface”, made in the Geto Boys image.

HHF: So did you meet Scarface or Akshun as he was known then through Bushwick Bill?

Red: Nope, we met Face at the club. He always would come up and say “yo man I can rap”, and kept on to the point of irritating your ass. So J finally heard him rap. There was a battle over my house between k-9, who had just gotten out of jail, and Scarface basically blew him out the water. K-9 said, “Yea I see what you talking about.” Scarface was still Akshun at this time, so I said yo just be Scarface. So they wanted me to remix the original Scarface from Troy Records, at first I said hell naw. Then looking at it in a business perspective I agreed to do it. So at first I took some common break beats like, “gimme what you got”, and a couple other joints, put my touches on there, and it came out a nice way to where I liked it, and that’s how Scarface was born.

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HHF: Now back to your time with the Ghetto Boys, how did the G-E-T-O spelling come about?

Red: Before that, Willie D came in and joined the Geto Boys, and I did Willie D’s “Controversial” album. I say Willie D is the true definition of a “get ya ass in a minute” 5th ward motherfucka. He was true about his shit. It was fun working with Willie, He was great, very talented. He still is, but ask me and I don’t think he is at his full potential. He is the original mouth of the south. So anyway, we put out “Grip It On Another Level”. That did well and that got us out of Houston. We went all over the country and all that. Then Rick Rubin gets involved. He is the one who suggested we change the name to the “Geto Boys”. I wanted to make a new album, and Rick says ” No, we are going to re-do the “Grip It” album. I said, “Man that’s not good for the fans”. So we ended up going to work with Rubin, who mixed it and brought out a lot of sounds and I liked it, especially because it was Rick Rubin. I thought we were on his label and things would get good. Then I called up there one day, and next thing you know we are back with Rap a Lot. Around that time I started to see some things, like yo where is this money at, what’s going on? I deserve and I thought everyone else deserved some decent compensation. It was around the time we were working on the “Can’t Be Stopped” album, which I did most of that album and did not get credit for it. So I decided I’m not going to keep doing this if I keep getting fucked. Then that was it that was it. Closed that chapter, which was in 1991. I got mad right before “Mind playing tricks on me”, which me and Brad did at my house, and you know what happened to that, it became the signature song of that Geto Boys….And uh, I’m still here! Yeah, that is the short version.

HHF: Do you have anything to say about J Prince?

Red: I have no hostility toward J at all. I did not allow him to make millions off me. He probably did though, but I didn’t stay long enough for him to do that. I can say some millions was made, but I have not been around him in over 27 years…I hear something now and then, and the courtesy call, that’s some funny shit ha-ha, but you know, you see nobody aint fuckin with me. I fuck wit J, but about my money I think he should be able to break bread with me. If he can buy pews and chapel steeples for churches, he can surely break off a piece to some of the people that helped him make it. Other than that, I really don’t got nothing to say than what has already been said.

HHF: Talk about how funky the industry is.

Red: I’ll tell any young artist this, before it gets bad, know your business. You can only have done to you what you allow to have done. Trust no one. Go get you a lawyer. Read everything that is on that contract, and make sure he tells you exactly what is going on so there is no surprises in the long run. Oh and if anyone u dealing with ever says “man aint no need to sign this, it’s just for when we got to show it to folks,” do not believe that shit, that’s how I was tricked. I was too trusting. At the same time, do not sign no manager contract if u aint got nothing to manage. If you do, do it project by project, don’t lock yourself down. You never know, you can make a hit and contracts will come out the woodworks. That’s the music business, take care of it, (your business) and with all this social media, you should know your business so you aint got to kill nobody out here for ripping you off.

HHF: As far as the Prison Industrial System and the secret meetings in hip hop, what do you know or have to say about that?

Red: Well you know the biggest trick of the devil was what? To show that it don’t exist. A lot of people don’t think that Illuminati and all that other stuff is there man. I happened to be a part of the meetings. They, and when I say they, I mean J and Cliff, went out to LA, and came back. Next thing I know we being told like, “yo man this what we got to do, this what we going to do, this how things going to be, we going to talk about bitches and hoes blah blah whoopty woo.” If you watch that Unsung episode, (about the geto boys) it plays out just like it. So there it is. That is the proof, its right there. Hell yea there was a secret meeting. Nobody wants to admit to that shit. You know back then before that meeting in 91, you had an even playing field. You had conscious, you had reality rap, everybody had they little part of what was going on. Now all of a sudden it’s just dark. It’s about rims, about bitches, about 9s, and about drugs.

HHF: – And everything good has been pushed underground?

Red: Pretty much. So when CEOs are telling you “yo man they don’t want to hear that good shit, come up with some of that gangsta shit and we will put u out.” So you got your good artist, and I aint saying they not good at what they do, but man after a while, after 20 something damn near 30 years, of being one of the head niggas behind this shit, I want to hear some new shit, I wanna hear some solutions. I already know that you hard. I already know you got rims, got bitches. Do you have any solutions for all this shit? If you got all this money, what you mad for? We need to save the youth man. As for me, I’m just sitting back working on some new records with some of the original Geto Boys, but it won’t be under the name Geto Boys. We have a name, we just have not released it yet.

HHF: What do you think, or is there a solution to change way the main stream is?

Red: Well you as a consumer, your dollar pulls a lot of weight, so stop buying the bullshit. Demand better. That’s what I would do. Tell the CEOs you don’t want to hear this bullshit. I want to see some happier shit, Sometime I want to hear some conscious shit.

HHF: So if you threaten a company with the dollar, it is more powerful than threatening with with a weapon

Red: Pretty much, got to hurt em in the pocket man.

 

Currently, Dj Ready Red is still making music and recently formed a group with a few former members. So be sure to look out for him!

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