Inspired by Philadelphia legends Will Smith and DJ Jazzy Jeff, DJ Damage got his first set of turntables from his mother at the age of 12. He then took his talents to Temple University, where he became a household name overnight in North Philly’s backyard.
Now he showcases his skills on Radio One’s Philly-based station, the new Hot 107.9. As the youngest on-air mixer in the nation, “The Fresh Prince of the Radio,” as he’s been dotingly called, has been endorsed and seen by some of hip-hop’s hottest disc jockeys. Whether it’s DJ Omega and Jay-Ski or even DJ Drama and DJ Touchstone, Damage has been in the limelight. He’s been pegged as the “Hottest DJ in the Hood,” and self-proclaimed as “The King of Temple University.”
In his success, he’s recently interviewed World Champion Floyd Mayweather Jr., made appearances on BET’s 106 & Park, and has been on tour with the likes of Meek Mill, Wale and Wiz Khalifa. Dime Magazine sat down with the young powerhouse radio personality to get his take on all things revolving around basketball, his choice of new kicks and how hip-hop and the NBA seem to keep connecting.
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Dime: Being a Philadelphia native myself, I listen to a lot of DJ Damage on 107.9 coming back into the city on weeknights. For those who don’t know about you outside of the city, exactly who is DJ Damage and what does he do?
Damage: DJ Damage is a recent college graduate that’s trying to take his craft to another level, I just want to excel and take it to the next level in entertainment. Started as a DJ from Temple University and trying to take the jump into the television world.
Dime: It seems like you and your promoters and your entire staff have taken over Philadelphia with a movement called the Ugly Bass Crew that came with several parties, and day events. What’s that all about?
Damage: It’s basically a diverse brand, coming from North and the college scene I’m known as an urban DJ. It’s a diversified lifestyle brand that me and my partner DJ Leen Wit It made, it can show the community that we are more than one type of music, we are more than just one type of thing. At the event we just had, The Ugly Bass Block Part on Temple’s campus at Broad and Thompson at Sneaker Villa, we played all types of music: funk, reggae, R&B. We made a movement to diversify ourselves.
Dime: How do you think Philly is adjusting more to being more and more in the spotlight as one of the bigger havens on the east coast when it comes to style, sneakers, fashion and mainly basketball?
Damage: I feel like it’s taking a better turn. Before we were known as a very street and very gritty kind of city. It’s shedding more light on the city and it’s showing that Philly is more than one type of thing. People like the producer Diplo. It’s opening it up where a while ago people dressed one type of way and now people are dressing and carrying themselves as more open. Now we can’t characterize Philly as one type of thing, now we can characterize Philly as much more. It’s showing more than one side of us, more of the ingredients that make the city what it is.
Dime: What’s your favorite pair of sneakers to wear right now and why?
Damage: I don’t have one favorite pair but I love the Jordan 5s. For how I dress it fits perfectly, you can see the Jordan symbol, you can wear everything with the Jordan 5s and the white Jordan 10s. I like more of a sophisticated street shoe that I can wear to certain events and pull off with more kits. You know how you can wear the Air Forces with anything? To me the 5s are that new hot sneaker and I love all the colorways.
Dime: What new sneakers are coming out that you like so far or that you think people will be the most attracted to?
Damage: I’m gonna be real with you. I’ve interviews a lot of artists and one sneaker that’s been common is the Jordan 1s. From Ace Hood to Trinidad James, they all talk about the Jordan 1s. When I say “what are the top five sneakers you have to have on the road with you?” one answer is always the Jordan 1s. They all talk about the new colorways.
Dime: Which sneaker has caught more of your attention: The Reebok Questions or the LeBron Xs?
Damage: The LeBron Xs, definitely hands down. I think it’s because it’s the power behind Nike and the popularity behind LeBron and it’s not a bad looking shoe. I know a lot of people love the retros, but it’s very futuristic and very cool looking. Very 2013.
Dime: Who’s your favorite basketball team and why?
Damage: My favorite basketball team until I die will be the Philadelphia 76ers because that’s the city I rep and I rep it until the death.
Dime: What teams do you want to see in the NBA Finals and why do you want to view this specific matchup?
Damage: You know what, I love the Heat and I like what they’re doing. But I want to see the San Antonio Spurs and the New York Knicks. The Spurs have a lot of heart, when you look at that team, that’s what they are a team. I like the Knicks because they were underdogs for a while but they finally got their chemistry flowing and now they’re making their run to the top. Sort of like Miami did during their run.
Dime: Being a major on-air personality in a huge market like Philadelphia, do you ever find yourself sitting courtside at many professional sports events, majorly basketball games?
Damage: Unfortunately not because my shift comes on during most basketball games but my brother Q Deezy is courtside at a lot of Philadelphia 76ers home basketball games.
Dime: There’s been a recent mix of people in the music industry with players in the NBA. From Jay-Z in Brooklyn, to MMG in Miami, it seems like rappers want to be involved with basketball. There are even hints of it in wordplay in some hip-hop singles. Have you seen a rise in this rationale being in the music industry in recent years or has it always been this way?
Damage: Hip-Hop and basketball have always been brothers, you already know from Biggie “you shooting a jump shot or you slinging a crack rock” and a lot of rappers like to portray ex-drug dealers and these were always the two methods for making it out of the hood. If you were an up-and-coming basketball player you knew an up-and-coming rapper. Then a bunch of rappers are in cliques with a bunch of basketball players. Then you have basketball players rapping. These two methods share the same foundation, the streets. It has always been this way. If you look at Allen Iverson with his freestyle track, or Ron Artest‘s music, or even Shaq who went platinum with a track, I feel like players are getting more into the media side of it. Hip-Hop is starting to come into the business side of it. It’s always been in the media.
Dime: Do you have any thoughts of getting more involved with basketball in Philadelphia if you already haven’t already?
Damage: I would love to be a part of the Philadelphia 76ers, I’d love to be their official DJ when it comes to local efforts and high school basketball. I’ve been a part of the Villa Classic for the last two years, which is a big event we have in Philadelphia. But on a bigger scale, I’d love to help with the Philadelphia 76ers.
What’s the best Jordan sneaker?
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