The 11th Mixtape Awards take place tonight in NYC at an undisclosed location. In honor of the event, I gave DJ Skee a shout to talk about the event and what it feels like to be nominated for a whopping eight awards. Skee’s put in a lot of work, releasing mixtapes with virtually every new and established artist on the West Coast, and countless corporate-sponsored tapes. He’s also branched out and created his own new media venture, Skee TV. But his biggest achievement of the past year was The American Godfather mixtape, a mash-up of Jay-Z’s vocals with the sonic backdrop of The Godfather soundtrack.
Q: You’re up for eight awards, which one of these is the the most coveted to you and why?
A: The most coveted is probably Mixtape DJ of the Year or Mixtape of the Year as those are the biggest awards someone can get there. I’m also honored for the rest, including radio show and the Jay-Z Remix album, which mean a lot and took a lot of work to get.
Q: What do you think you’ve done for the West Coast in terms of elevating the role of the mixtape DJ out there?
A: I’ve really tried to expand it so we are recognized nationwide beyond, “Oh he’s just a West Coast dude.” I think I’ve opened the eyes of a lot of people worldwide who normally may discriminate on the West and have expanded to becoming just a dope DJ, regardless of location. That not only helps us as DJs become more respected but also shed light on artists from the West when people get rid of the location discrimination. I’ve also done some groundbreaking stuff on the business side that I hope help open doors and show a path other DJs can follow in business.
Q: You’re nominated in the category of Best Mixtape Producer. How important is it these days to come with original music, like you did on the American Godfather tape?
A: It’s crucial, especially in the mixtape game (and hip-hop overall) which is all kind of stale. I always try to innovate and come with something that’s creative and dope and can cross barriers. I had one of the producers of The Godfather movie trilogy actually hit me and we are now talking about doing some crazy stuff in the future… I couldn’t believe they even noticed!
Q: How does working on a corporate-sponsored mixtape differ from working on one for an artist, and why do you prefer one over the other?
A: Each artist or corporate brand has their own vision or points they want to incorporate you usually half to follow, adding your own flavor to them. I’m into whatever is just fresh and I can jump on and add my creativity and stamp to, and whoever trusts me to do what I do, as I know the market as well as anyone. Each artist or brand usually has their own outline, so you kind of half to follow that but bring your skills and knowledge to the table. Sometimes artists are actually harder to work with than brands (and vice versa).
Q: Is the mixtape scene still bubbling out on the West Coast, and if so, why is it continuing to go strong while on the East Coast it’s in a funk?
A: It’s cool, it’s kinda stale everywhere else. It just doesn’t have the energy and excitement it used to, that’s why I’m constantly trying to step outside the box and be creative. With the net and technology, anyone can be a DJ or get new music, which is kind of why everything is messed up. I’m looking for new and innovative ways to do my thing…
Q: Which tapes did you most enjoy working on and why?
A: The Jay-Z American Godfather was just great an a lot of fun, the Game ones were crazy, Expensive Taste was great, man, all of them… I love what I do and couldn’t be in a better place right now.
Q: What is the role of the mixtape moving forward in the music industry?
A: Mixtapes are really the only way to break or get a hip-hop artist bubbling in the streets that can carry over to the mainstream. Look at Lil’ Wayne. Even Kanye dropped a dope mixtape before his album. It’s almost like a sampler, you gotta give what you have for free before you try to sell it. All the cats you hear on the radio with a big single that have no street presence only sell digital singles and ringtones, but no album sales (and no real career to build on). In hip-hop today, you can’t just come out of nowhere with a big single and no street/mixtape presence and expect to have a career.
Q: What else is popping with DJ Skee?
A: Everything! We just closed a big deal for SkeeTV, so we are taking it out of beta and officially launching it in June and a whole platform around that. Still killing the radio on Sirius and out here in L.A. on Power 106 with Reflex. I also have some real creative and ground breaking projects that will be dropping this summer that is going to get more attention than anything I’ve ever done. Other than that touring worldwide, I’m closing a big deal in Vegas right now, and just living life! Djskee.com geeeah!
* Jay-Z: The American Godfather
* Snoop Dogg: Tha Blue Carpet Treatment Mixtape
* Snoop Dogg/ Terrace Martin: Signal Flow
* Travis Barker/Paul Wall/Skinhead Rob: Expen$ive Ta$te
* Akon: Trouble Mixtape
* The Game: You Know What It Is, Vol. 3
* The Game: You Know What It Is Vol. 4
* The Game: The Black Wall Street Journal
* The Game: Stop Snitchin’, Stop Lyin’
* The Game: Ghost Unit
* David Banner: Mississippi The Album Mixtape
* Universal Music Group Straight From The Streets Vol. 2
* SRC Records Hits From The Street Volume 1
* Interscope Presents Sounds From The Streets
* Playboy TV Mixtape
* T-Mobile Sidekick Mixtape
* Crooked I: Young Boss, Volume 2
* G Malone: The Electric Chair
* Bishop Lamont: N*gger Noize
* Omar Cruz: Cruzifixion
* Omar Cruz: 2007 B.C. (Before Cruz)
* Jay Rock: Watts Finest Vol. 2
* Jay Rock: Watts Finest Volume. III (The Watts Riot)
* Ya Boy: Chapter 1 (The Rise)
* Topic: The Coast Guard
* Juice: Death Certificate
* Damani: Congratulations Player
* Spit Fiya (Maloof Music): Boyz N Da Hood
* DJ Crazy Toones/Skee/Reflex: CT Experience
* Westside Hype Vol 1
* Westside Hype Vol 2
* Mister Cartoon: Tears Of A Clown; Westside Classics Volume One (Joker Brand)
* Mister Cartoon: Tears Of A Clown; Westside Classics Volume Two (Joker Brand)
* All Access DVD Mixtape