Cameron: Well, on behalf of COSIGN Magazine, I would like to thank you taking time out of your schedule to meet with me face to face. I know that you’re a busy man. So first off, can you tell me a little about yourself?
View: My name is Stevie Johnson (my government name); my DJ name is DJ View. I’m originally from Longview, Texas, which is about two hours east of Dallas. I graduated from Longview High and went to the University of Oklahoma. I got my Bachelors and Masters from there. I’m currently working on my Ph.D. in Higher Education and Administration. I work in diversity inclusion at the University of Central Oklahoma and I have been there for almost five years. I’ve been DJ-ing for almost 10 years. I started in 2009 during undergrad and I taught myself. There weren’t too many people DJ-ing college parties then. My roommate (JCi), had some software on his laptop and he wasn’t using it so I just started playing with it… we threw our first party and it just took off from there. I currently live in Oklahoma City…. so I drive down here every week mostly on Thursdays for Trappiest hour… and other stuff on the weekends if things pop up. I’ve been married… It’ll be three years in June. My wife’s name is Ariel and we have a 9-month-old son named Amir Sky.
Cameron: Well that is quite an impressive resume. What did you get your Bachelors and Masters in?
View: I got my Masters in Student Affairs and my Bachelors in Health and Exercise Science. When I first started my full-time job after my Masters Program I had a dilemma with politics and my identity. I felt like I couldn’t DJ while being a professional. They gave me a task of creating a Black Male Initiative Program that helps promote persistence and graduation… You know about 47% of black males do not graduate from high school, and those that go, only about 50% come back after their first year. So, when they hired me they told me they really wanted this program to increase retention and the graduation rates for Black males. The more I worked with my students…what I found out is that they brought out me being my true myself…being an administrator and a DJ at the same time. This is what my Ted Talk (that I did in 2015) was about. There is a connection between the two skills. Allowing me to be my true self, promotes the young men to be themselves as well.
Cameron: That’s pretty interesting how two seemingly opposite professions can play off each other in such a fashion. Now, can you give me an explanation of the significance of your name?
View: DJ View is short for Longview, Texas. We call it “The View” for short. It is a reminder for me to never forget where I came from. There are people who prayed for me to get to this position. I’m the first person to graduate from college. There are a lot of people who have invested time and energy from my hometown. My name is my reminder to stay humble and keep myself grounded.
Cameron: So not only were you the first person in your family to graduate from college, but you’ve received several degrees and have a doctorate along the way. That is incredible. So what do you enjoy most about what you do and what do you think sets you apart from other DJs… besides your resume of course.
View: I think as far as DJ-ing itself… I’m a big person on blends and I’m not afraid to push what I can do. I can take a gospel record and mix it with a trap song. It’s all about liberation. I want to liberate my people. I think, at least for me, when I work a party that is one of the only times I can control what’s going on in the world. Being Black in America, it’s hard to live your daily life. As a DJ, I can create a safe space and encourage people to be themselves as well. My PhD is in Hip-Hop pedagogy. The experiences of being a DJ, how it created a sense of belonging for me, and helped me figure out who I am as a person. That’s something that I want to bring into the academy. People have this perception that Hip-hop is hyper-masculine, violent, and has no place in education. For me, I’m trying to create this counter-narrative… that this is our story… and it is evolved over time. You saw it in the Reagan era, the Nixon, Clinton, Obama, and now you especially see it with Trump. Different presidents but Hip-Hop has always been there to tell our stories. It has been a way to speak our minds and not be censored. I’ve received some push back from the university but I feel that it is very important.
Cameron: What other DJs do you Cosign?
View: Of Tops, Mr. Rogers is my guy. He is the person I’ve listened to and studied. He’s probably the best DJ that I’ve ever heard. There’s actually a lot of Oklahoma DJs I can cosign like: DJ R&R, DJ Yo Ameriken Dream, and DJ Kielo. As far as Dallas goes, I cosign DJ She Real, DJ Jay Clipp, DJ Trill, and the big homie DJ Phife for sure.
Cameron: You said something earlier that resonated with me. In regards to hip-hop… you said it evolves over time. Do you think that it is evolving negatively? Especially with the appearance of mumble rap… do you think that it’s going down a bad road, or just branching off?
View: I think most people see it as negative. Like I was saying earlier, the same things that were happening in the 70s are happening also in 2018. The way people are expressing it is different… so when people see that something is different…they automatically see it as negative. I don’t necessarily have a problem with mumble rap, but I do think its time for us to really pay attention. It’s easy to listen to a track and say “they aint saying nothing!” but don’t really listen to the emotion and dissect what’s going on. I’m trying to have a conversation…this is a new generation…if we don’t listen to them who will?
Cameron: I agree…. I think it’s important that there is something for everybody and a lane for everything. But back to the topic of being a DJ, if I’m brand new coming to Dallas and I’m trying to get booked and stay seen, what advice would you have for me?
View: Practice and go to events to listen to how the DJ is mixing. (Practice) crowd control… what songs work and which ones do not. When you’re starting out you’re going to be opening up… so there’s a proper way to open up as a DJ for the next person. Talk to people who are over events and ask them how you can get your feet wet. It’s all about networking. I wouldn’t even be a DJ in Dallas if it weren’t for the people I went to school with. Those connections help be build new connections. You also have to have tough skin and be able to take constructive criticism. You have to evolve and expand your music and not just be comfortable with your niche. You control everything. You want to show appreciation for the people who came to see you.
Cameron: Where can people see you and how can people contact you for booking purposes?
View: As of right now, Trappiest Hour is the consistent thing. It really just depends on weekends. You may see me at Lotus or at a Momo event. On social media, you can contact me on snapchat/twitter/and instagram @DJ_View. My sound cloud is /therealdjview and my website thedjview.com will be launching soon. I’m actually releasing my first production project in a couple months.
Cameron: Oh so a Cosign exclusive… So do you have a name for this project?
View: I don’t at this time; I’m still trying to figure it out. And again, this is something that I taught myself.
Cameron: You’re definitely a man with many talents and a full schedule. How do you have time to do all this with a wife and child at home, while at school getting your doctorate, and traveling to Dallas weekly?
View: I have to go back to my wife to be honest… now that we have a son… we are very intentional about how we love each other. We literally ask the question every single day “How can I make your Day Better”, and that keeps us grounded and focused with the occasional date night. As far as my schedule, I’m very open an honest and ask things like “can I take this gig”?
Cameron: Communication is definitely the key in any relationship. So to close things out, I’m sure you know the Grammys are going to air soon and I’m curious as to who you think should win and who will win “Record Of The Year” out of Jay-Z, Bruno Mars, Childish Gambino, Kendrick, and Lorde.
View: Who will win is Lorde and that’s self-explanatory. Who should win, I would say Childish.
Cameron: Oh wow. Childish over Jay-Z and Kendrick? Why is that?
View: Because I see the development. The Childish album was different. That’s why I would say Childish over Bruno as well. That’s the kind of music I like, soul and funk.
Cameron: So if you had to create a customized 15-song playlist of artists (both local and non-local) that you cosign, who would be on it?
Check out the playlist on Apple Music here.
1. I Gotta – Don Toliver
2. Bust Down- Trippie Redd
3. Ice Tray- Quavo & Lil Yachty
4. None of This- Nipsey Hussle ft. Bino Rideaux
5. Boss Life- YFN Lucci Ft. Offset
6. That’s On Me- Yella Beezy
7. Stunting Ain’t Nuthin- Gucci Mane ft. Silm Jxmmi & Young Dolph
8. Roll In Peace- Kodak Black Ft. XXXTENTACION
9. Broken Clocks- SZA
10. Focus- H.E.R
11. Beware of the Groove- Tall Black Guy
12. Nobody- Rapsody ft. Anderson .Paak, Black Thought, & Moonchild
13. American Dream- Jeezy ft. J. Cole & Kendrick Lamar
14. Ride The Beat- Shameik Moore
15. Layup – Big K.R.I.T