Two For The Price of One: DJ Skillz & Big Pat, Voice of the Charlotte Hornets.
DJ Skillz on the left and Big Pat on the right/ Photo Credit: Williams Photography
During the culmination of the week, just when the world seemed to slow down fleetingly and then speed back up, INterruped embarked on one of the most festive occasion’s to-date.
On April 7, 2016, Jack Daniels (Spirits) hosted a Fundraiser and birthday bash for DJ Skillz (The MASH OUT KING), and Big Pat (Voice of the Charlotte Hornets) at Strike City, in the EPICentre, with DJ DR as the emcee for the event..
The exclusive invite welcomed many prominent individuals from the Charlotte area, including boutique owners, designers, and radio personalities from the local stations. They all rang in the birthdays of the two beloved luminaries by bowling, singing in unison, and networking. It was an evening of sheer delight.
DJ Skillz mentioned that although it was a blessing to make it another year, the true reason behind the event and fundraiser, was to give back to the Salvation Army Center of Hope Shelter (Shelter for Women and Children), as well as the T.R.E Foundation (Teaching Responsibility Early). He said that the event was much bigger than a birthday celebration. He wanted to make it a night to remember by giving to those whom truly needed the extra push in society by celebrations with philanthropic purpose.
We were able to get a few words from both gentlemen while at the gala…
How do you get a job as the voice of the Charlotte Hornets? You have to be very fortunate and very blessed, and then you have to travel 500 miles for an audition in the middle of the night,” he chuckled.
How long have you worked with the Hornets? 11 years. Before I worked with the Hornets, I did the voice for the Charlotte Bobcats.
Do you plan to do this until you retire? I’m so old now, I don’t know, he joked. I want to do it for as long as I can.
What are the upsides to being the powerful announcer for our home team? I make appearances on behalf of the team. Sometimes, people hire me for weddings. I did my first bar mitzvah. I think it went really well. I do a little voice-over work (Commercials) on the side, so it works out.
Do you get a lot of typecast by being the voice of the Hornets? People are very surprised when they meet me and find out who I am.
Do you travel with the Hornets to away games? No, just here. I enjoy working for the Hornets. It’s a wonderful organization to work for, from MJ, all the way down. I’ve been blessed and very fortunate to do something that I just love to do.
Do you have to like sports in your line of work? Do you love sports? Yes, I do love sports. I love announcing more than I love sports cause I have an ego about my own voice. I love hearing it. I think it’s okay.
Do you meet a lot of people behind the scenes? I’ve met a lot of people.
What can we expect from you in the next 5 years? In the next 5 years, I expect to be here cause I want my 2 year old grandson to know what Paw-Paw does.
How did you earn the name, “DJ Skillz?” In high school, my first name was DJ B. I was supposed to be playing basketball—my friends told me, “You’re nice in basketball and nice as a DJ… You need to change your name.” I said, “Nah, I like DJ B.” They said that I needed something that sticks out more, and then this kid said, “You need to call yourself, “DJ Skillz.” At the time, Skillz the rapper was hot. But, I didn’t want to do it because I didn’t want to sound like anyone else. They said don’t worry about it, “There isn’t another DJ Skillz,” so roll with it.” I’ve been stuck with it ever since. Skillz represents my personality and things that I’m good at, as well as how gifted I am.
How long have you been a DJ? I’ve been doing this 13 years professionally and 17 years straight out.
What all do you do? Do you live here in Charlotte? Yes, I live here, in Charlotte. I’ve produced a couple artist as well. I DJ for a couple of big Hip Hop groups, and from the DJ side of things, I execute at the club, the party scenes, and that’s pretty much DJ Skillz.
What can we expect from you in the next coming year? Right now, we have “The Party Life Tour” for the summer of 2016. We’ll be going from the Dominican to Mexico, to name a couple places. That’s going on this summer. I have a few mix-tapes that I’m working on called “The Fugees: One Night Only.” I’m also doing a “Roc-A-Fella Golden Years” mix-tape. We’re releasing that this summer. I have a non-profit organization that I’m bout to launch, and I have a couple other things that’s going to launch in 2017.
Tell us about the non-profit: It’s pretty much about empowering the youth, at risk kids, and things of that nature. I feel young, and I’ve been around, and I’ve seen a lot. I’m from South Carolina. In my experience, kids don’t make it from where I’m from. Kids from South Carolina don’t supposed to make it to the magnitude even where I’m at now. I’ve had a lot of people shoot me down for opportunities because of where I’m from, because I’m from South Carolina. So I encompassed within myself of what I knew I could possess.
So, my story to them is, “Believe in yourself and believe in your dream. Never let anyone dictate where you are going in life, everything is totally up to you.” That’s sort of what I talk about when I speak to the kids. I was with KRS-One this past weekend at Myrtle Beach, and we spoke to a lot of the youth and teenagers while there. So, that’s pretty much my message of what I’ve done.
How difficult is it to establish yourself as a DJ and stay relevant? You have to stay true to yourself. When I first graduated high school, I went to Saint Augustine in Raleigh. That was kind of my outlet to get out of the box of what I was used to… Ever since then, I kinda listened to what the world looks like outside of South Carolina. I learned a lot and I didn’t want to be in a box. My main thing was “I saw the world, and that’s what I wanted.” My first tour was with “Rza,” and that was in Virginia—we toured the whole state of Virginia, and I was the opening DJ that played for thousands of people. I saw that and I knew that’s what I wanted. From that, it was always thinking outside the box, believing in yourself, staying true to yourself, and believing in your craft-- everything else is going to fall. Chase the purpose and not the profit. That’s my main thing. My purpose has always been genuine—success followed my purpose.
I asked my mother 2 years ago cause I felt like I was being placed on a different stage. I asked her, “Did you think that I’d ever be that celebrity kid, and she was like, “Yeah.” They always expected for me to play sports because I was the active one at the top of my class. But when I took on being a DJ, no one ever expected that. But once I took on being a DJ, I said I was going to be the best.
Who have you worked with? Who would you like to work with? I’ve worked with a lot of people like Kanye West, Jay Z, Kevin Hart, Anthony Hamilton, Terrance J—well, me and Terrance J pretty much grew up together. Me and Terrance been rocking since 2002. That’s who I’ve worked with, but the ones that I’d like to work with is Stevie Wonder. He’s a musical genius. He believes in being versatile. He doesn’t think you should be in a box. Stevie feels that you should be creative… I would love to do an event with Stevie Wonder. That’s on my bucket list.
What do you think about the music we listen to now? Is it real Hip-Hop? No, not on the regular, it's not. It’s when you can find the underground and independent sound. I’m an R&B head. I listen to R&B all day. But, I listen to the ratchet. I know when to turn it up and I know when I turn it off. But, mainly, I can listen to R&B all day and be okay.
Do you think that African American DJ’s carry a stereotype? To some degree, I believe that they do. From the emphasis that’s put out, I think it’s more from a side of what’s being put out from a media standpoint. A lot of that can get crossed up. I think you shouldn’t judge individuals by what you see on television and VH1. You gotta get to know that individual artist for who they are. Don’t try to conform them or categorize them with how you view everyone else. You are gonna be fooled or you’re gonna miss out on something good.
How did you position yourself to work with so many great artist? When I was in Raleigh, I got a glimpse of what the future was going to look like and that was in 2002 when I had left college. I had just did a tour and I did the Destiny’s Child's, tour. I did all their after parties…My manager from Roc-A-Fella Records—I was bout to drop a mix-tape called “College Drop Out,” and Kanye West was dropping the "College Dropout" album. Kanye West was in Raleigh working on an individual record, “Through the Wire,” me and him collaborated on the “College Dropout” mix-tape… I can’t really say that it was one particular thing. It was steady progress. It hasn’t been as fast as I wanted, but it’s been a beautiful journey. Sometimes I wished that it would speed up just a little. But, it’s at a gradual pace that I like because I believe in longevity.