L.A.’s DJ Carisma on What Works on West Coast Radio
Go DJ: DJ Carisma
DJ Carisma lays out what to expect for the rest of the year.
Interview Miranda Johnson
Editor’s Note: A version of this story originally appeared in the Fall 2015 issue of of XXL Magazine, on stands now.
Since breaking New Boyz’ irresistible anthem, “You’re A Jerk,” back in 2009, DJ Carisma has positioned herself as one of the most respected DJs in hip-hop. As a prominent DJ on Power 106, Los Angeles’ biggest hip-hop radio station, Carisma has become a gatekeeper when it comes to breaking artists onto mainstream radio. XXL spoke with the 24-year-old about her role in hip-hop, the key to success on West Coast radio and what albums she thinks heads are waiting to drop in late 2015.
XXL: What's your role in hip-hop?
DJ Carisma: I feel like I was just put out here in the West Coast to fight for our music. Before I got on radio, there were no West Coast records being played, in The Bay or in L.A. I broke “You’re A Jerk” and I broke YG’s “Toot It And Boot It.” For artists who have humongous street movements, when you can spread to The Bay and L.A. and all these high schools are rocking with a particular artist or song, we should pay attention to that. That’s what I feel like my role is, to pay attention to what the kids are doing. It’s all about the youth. No matter what generation it is, it’s always going to be about what’s next. Someone has to look out for that.
What is the key to making a record work on L.A. radio?
People just want to be able to hear it and sing along. That’s why Drake is so powerful, because he knows how to make melodic things. They stick in your mind when you turn on your car and when you get out your car. That’s what a radio record is really about. It’s just really about having that formula of a simple hook and verse, and it really getting in people’s heads. That’s why, unfortunately, a lot of the super rap records or club trap records never work on [L.A.] radio, because only the hook is good. I just think it’s all about being simple and being repetitive and it making sense. It’s complicated. That’s a complicated-ass question. So to me, that’s a little bit of what it takes.
What albums do you think hip-hop listeners are most looking forward to for the rest of the year?
Drake just owns the radio everywhere. Anything Drake touches is fire. He’s got that golden touch right now, so if Drake drops an album, that’ll be awesome. There’s four Fetty Wap records in our rotation, so definitely Fetty Wap. Hopefully my girl Beyoncé does what she did two years ago and surprises us for Christmas or something. That’ll be dope too. And where’s Rihanna been? I’m dying for some new Rihanna. Both YG and Ty [Dolla $ign]. They’re going to bring that West Coast flavor. A lot of people go against our sound, so it’s good to have artists winning from the West Coast. —Miranda J.
Check out more from our Fall 2015 issue including our cover story with Future and interviews with Mac Miller, Scarface, Damian Lillard and August Alsina, a look at the beef between Meek Mill and Drake compared to 50 Cent and Ja Rule, profiles on Southside, Metro Boomin and London On Da Track and more.