People like myself think of a disk jockey as someone who plays all the popular songs of the day. For instance, songs from Your Hit Parade, sponsored by Lucky Strike Cigarettes, featuring the top ten songs of the week plus a Lucky Strike Extra. Our ears were practically glued to the studio-sized floor model radio resting in the corner of our living room like some honorarium to a long lost hero.
Not today, baby. Disk Jockey's have gone nuclear, so let me not tarry longer. I know an expert who is well-versed in what the millennials celebrate as a D. J. I have previously written about Hemet's talented young musicians. Devin Hype is a 21-year-old version of musical artist coming from another corner of the ring. So let me introduce you to one of the fastest moving young icons of the soon to be national music scene.
Young Mr. Hype was born in Riverside, California. Shortly thereafter he was transplanted to Hemet by way of whatever was transportation in those days.
"I certainly wasn't the greatest student in the system. I never liked school and it showed up in my less than academic grades. I'm sure McSweeney Elementary, junior high and Hemet High schools were as happy to see me depart their rooms of study as I was to leave. I knew by the time I was 8 or 9 years old that I would never end up as a clerk in some stuffy office."
Devin and his best friend, Victor, were born on the same day in the same year. They met in grade school and have been skin tight friends ever since. "In the garage at Victor's house one I discovered a turn-table and some LP records." It was love at first spin of the disk." Although, at that time no one in his family showed any musical aptitude, a younger brother would become bi-instrument, embracing more instruments "than I have fingers," says Devin.
"I thought at one time I would become a vocalist. Even sang in the choir and for a while also took a turn toward alto sax and bass clarinet, playing in the high school band. However, boredom set in ever worse so I simply quit and directed my interests to my real love - music. I wanted to be a D. J. and that was it."
He did not impress his family with the career he was about to undertake. Expressions, like "You'll never get anywhere with that," "go to college, nobody does this stuff" and "find a real job and settle down" were just a few of the put-downs he heard on a daily basis. I decided, instead, to follow my dream because I don't want to look back fifty years from now and be sorry I didn't. "I guess I am a grandma's boy because when others doubted me, she believed in me. I'm still very close to her."
Just exactly what style of D.J. is he? I know absolutely nothing about what goes on in the D. J. business nowadays.
"I mix records together," he explains. "Instead of letting one record play, I mix two recordings together. Kind of change things up. I'm known for my creativity; mix in and out."
My blank expressions pretty much told him that he'd have to do better than that if he expected me to know what he was talking about and I'll bet there are quite a few over 40 year olds who are suffering the lack of understanding.
"Well, Rusty, let me pipe you in to the real world. Mix in and out, like if there is a word in a song, the song I mix with it is going to have the same word. It's known as word plan from song to song. I'm also known for scratching and doing weird things."
I was scratching my head and thinking weird things. My eight year old granddaughter designs houses on her laptop. What do I know? Devin indulged me with a knowing smile.
"Let me explain, it is working the record; working the sound. If I hear a vocal chord, like ooh or aah, I'm going to scratch it and make a different sound. I'm definitely different."
Boy, I'll say. Devin keeps bringing up the idea that he is different and I believe I'm sort of starting to believe him As to how different he is from others in the field, I mean what makes him so unique, he says, "I put more effort into my mixing. Guys who have been doing this for ten or fifteen years, or longer, practice maybe two hours a week. I sit and practice seven and eight hours a day for weeks and months before I do a show because I want to show off in a way that highlights my style.
Devin has come a long way baby and he has the wear and tear, heartbreaks and experience to prove it. "My first gig was a backyard house party. You won't see me doing
those anymore. those days are over. I spent three years in a garage learning the basics before I ever did anything else."
Recently he's had better opportunities to travel and see how the rest of the world operates.
"I'm on the bill now with major stars. Places like Albuquerque, New Mexico where I figured in a low rider magazine show. The Mandalay Bay and Venitian glitter palaces in Las Vegas."
Devin is heavily influenced by the music of the 90's and is currently the D. J. for a big 90's hip-hop group called, "A Lighter Shade of Brown."
One thing about his new found fame that isn't so pleasant; the drama queens in the business. "There is lots of jealousy and animosity. I try to stay away from that but sometimes it is just something you have to deal with and get on about your own business."
He has been the envy of others in some cases. "I played gigs all over downtown Riverside when I was seventeen; in bars where I couldn't get in as a customer if I was under 21. Some people resented my being featured in a show at that age." For the past five years he has also been the house D.J at The Derby Bar and Grill."
"You could say I cut my teeth on my craft there. I'm spreading my wings, though, in other directions now." Devin will soon be appearing on the bill with Ice Cube at Irvine Meadows. "Can you imagine that? Performing before an audience of sixteen thousand plus. Me? Hard to believe."
He confesses that he becomes so engrossed in his music that he often forgets to sleep or eat. There's another aspect to his overloaded life. Radio. At sixteen he became interested in on-line local radio stations. When I first discovered there was a Devin Hype he was appearing regularly on NBC AM radio on "In The Mix" an internationally broadcast show. He's been involved with syndicated stations in San Francisco, Las Vegas and Palm Springs areas as well as 99.1 KGGI, with one of the widest service areas in Riverside County.
Don't think it has been all sugar and cream for this young man. It hasn't. "People have judged me by my age, considering me nothing but a green horn. He is slowly gaining respect from those who once dismissed him as a smart-assed kid still wet behind the ears.
Folks, lest you forget, we're not spouting off about some big shot from New York or Los Angeles. Devin is one of our own - home grown and corn-fed.
Once again I've been shown up as someone who still has a lot to learn, but Devin Hype has certainly planted some seeds of knowledge into my thick skull.