Heard as far away as France and with eleven million listeners, the “Wake Up Show” is the planet’s most listened to hip-hop radio program. That makes DJ Revolution the globe’s most widely heard hip-hop DJ as he’s skillfully manned the show’s mighty turntables for eight years and counting. HipHopSite talked to Revolution about memorable “Wake Up Show” moments, his pal Sway’s MTV gig and his loads of outside projects.
HHS: Has anybody ever spit a line on the show that was so phenomenal, it messed up your DJing?
DJ Revolution: The night after The Juice and Supernatural battle, these cats went back and forth trading lines for 40 minutes. So there goes 40 minutes of lines to mess your head up. Canibus always blows my wig back with some shit every time he comes through.
HHS: Do you ever feel intimidated knowing the number of people around the world checking out your every scratch and mix?
DJ Revolution: Only the first time I ever hit the air on the show. But it wasn’t because of the radio audience, it was just the people in the studio. Babu, Q-Bert, Shortkut, Melo-D, [Roc] Raida, Swift, Apollo etc. They were all in town for a show and they happened to fall through the studio that night. That’s some pressure for dat ass.
HHS: Didn’t the show go off the air for a time?
DJ Revolution: Yup, we went off the air in 2000 in L.A. and then In S.F. shortly after. Basically, even the “Wake Up Show” couldn’t avoid becoming a victim of the corporate monster taking over the radio world. We came back on the air in January 2003 and have been going strong ever since. Picking up new affiliates and I even got the show running in France now.
HHS: Do you ever get tired of explaining just what is you do to people that don’t get hip-hop DJs?
DJ Revolution: No, because I don’t fuck wit those kinds of people. And I don’t explain anything with words anymore. You see me in a club, hear me on the air, check me on a record or mixtape I might give youâ€¦If you don’t get what I’m doin’ by then, you just a dumbass.
HHS: What’s the most important thing about being a great DJ?
DJ Revolution: There isn’t one most important thing about being a great DJ, but I know what you’re getting at. I would say your individuality and your ability to express it well on the wheels. Bringing your experience and love of music to life in front of an audience–and do it so that everyone knows that you just played something everyone knows and loves, but you played ‘em your way. Mixed ‘em your way. Scratched ‘em your way. Or you broke a new record and everybody says later on, ‘I heard that a while back when Rev played it.’
HHS: You’ve heard it all on the Wake Up Show. Has anyone really surprised you–meaning you didn’t realize how dope they were?
DJ Revolution: Well, Eminem surprised us all. Ha ha. When he came through at first, nobody knew who the hell he was. He was just some dude playin’ the side of the room when all the major Rawkus dudes would slide through. ‘Til he hit the mic, then it was over. More people have surprised me the other way. Turning out to be much worse than I thought they would be.
HHS: There’ve been Wake Up Show moments that have turned into legendary happenings. Any stories like this you can share?
DJ Revolution: Biggie on our show doing an interview and freestyling one week before he died. Then the next week we were on the air literally one block from The Peterson Automotive Museum where they held the Vibe [party] and he was murdered. Crazy and very disturbing. Other than that, there are literally too many classic moments to share in this interview
HHS: Any new projects you are working on?
Yes, but some are so secret I won’t even let it out yet. Look out for my series of mix CDs starting with “Class of 85′.” I’m going all the way to 2005. 20 volumes. ’86 is out in a month. ’87 by the end of the year. Crazy! 2 new albums next year for sure. I’m takin’ over in 2006
HHS: You were heavy into production work for several years. You’ve seemed to be more into making mix CDs the last few years. Why the change?
DJ Revolution: Just a phase. I’m actually doing production a lot. Just not for hip-hop artists. Doing a lot for film and TV and other stuff. But I’m actually about to start recording again. I got the bug and have a lot of ideas to get out. It’s time again–and my production quality has increased ten fold.
HHS: What are some of the shows or flicks you’ve contributed music to?
DJ Revolution: My music was used in VH1′s “Hip-Hop Honors” award show. A couple of shows on ESPN. I do a lot of library production music that just gets placed without me knowing when or where. That’s some funny shit. Just watching TV and having your music pop on in a weird scene, where you’d least expect it.
HHS: Didn’t you score “Black Mask?” How was that experience?
DJ Revolution: Black Mask, with Jet Li–It was great and I learned a lot from it. I learned that I wanna do more of that kind of work, so I am.
HHS: How has the show changed with Sway’s MTV gig? Has your visibility increased?
DJ Revolution: Maybe a little bit more visibility. MTV watchers and real hip-hoppers usually don’t cross paths in what they listen to or care about. I never watch MTV and my dog is right there on it everyday. Most people don’t even know about Sway and what he really loves. Hip-hop is runnin’ through his veins, they just see him on MTV and he’s just another VJ. He mentions the show and helps artists out and always has our back, but it’s two different worlds that usually don’t scratch each other’s backs. Feel me. The show has changed because he lives in NY. He commutes, so we can do the shows. From NY to LA so often it would probably kill a normal dude. But that’s how much the dude loves hip-hop and what he does for it.
HHS: With all your upcoming discs highlighting a year in rap, do you feel like a hip-hop teacher?
DJ Revolution: Nah. I’m no teacher, just a hip-hop DJ who loves the music he grew up on and devoted his life to. I wanna make sure that the newer generation gets a taste of what they missed and are missing now. It’s all in fun, but I do hope people listen to it and say, â€˜Goddamn…what the hell happened to hip-hop? It used to be something totally different.’ The series is a tribute to hip-hop and its pioneers and I went full out with the artwork also. Its done in yearbook fashion with Kool Herc as the founder and dean of students. It’s a trip and everybody who has seen it loves it. That’s all that matters to me.
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