Byline: Nhya East
It was the day before school started and Riggs lawn had a sea of students in attendance bopping and swaying to the sounds of popular hits like “California Girls” and “Teach me how to Dougie,” as it does every year. The familiar aroma of barbequed hotdogs, hamburgers, and chicken filled the air. There were games, and the turntables were under complete control, but not by the face many returning students were so use to seeing at their annual Welcome Back barbeque. Instead of a swagged-out broadcasting major who was known for her sneaker collection, there was a guy now best known for his outspoken personality and for never going without one of his 100 baseball caps. He made jokes with the crowd, gave shout outs and kept the campus event alive with his commentary and quick thinking. He wasn’t a broadcasting major, either – but instead was pursuing a degree in pre-medicine and computer science as well as maintaining a full-ride cross-country scholarship. This sophomore DJ trying to make a name for himself at C.W. Post was David Johnson (initials DJ), and his birth name perfectly reflected his spinning name: DJRUNNA. It was almost like he was born to do this.
“He’s very talented and a sight to see on the turntables,” said sophomore Jasmine Williams, who has heard DJ at clubs off-campus where he originally started to get noticed. Eighteen-year-old DJ, Brooklyn native and now Queens inhabitant is the new talk on the street in terms of the DJ world at Post. Before attending Post, he’d been DJing for five years and said he found his love for mixing music in a surprising way. Although he had a DJing cousin, he was never sure how to take the next step until the opportunity presented itself. Across the street from his high school he practically moved into the DJ Store iDJNow, where they sold professional sound and lighting equipment, microphones, and turntables. “I literally spent all day in there from once school ended, until they closed around nine, just experimenting with mixes and talking to the employees,” DJ reminisces about the store where he still works part time. Eventually, his growing dedication was noticed and he was given a job at 13. He didn’t think that from this hobby he would have invested over $10,000 in his own equipment, but over the course of his time there he did.
Since DJing was something he believed was more of a pastime for him, he started practicing by volunteering to spin for free at Sweet 16’s and weddings before he realized that he needed more excitement in his work. “I needed a more hype crowd. I felt like I could control the pulse of the party,” he said. His go-getter personality and appetite for action brought him to DJing more in city clubs after playing in smaller locations. “Promoters heard me play and gave me the opportunity to go to bigger venues,” DJ said. He has this personality on the microphone that makes people want to come back to the club or event to see him DJ again. Now along with DJing for Post, you might find him at clubs like Webster Hall, Promenade, Mink, Taboo, Tobago, and Amazura. “I’ve DJ’d at pretty much every club in Queens and a good amount of Manhattan clubs,” DJ said.
He was first attracted to the DJing position at Post last year because of the then already known campus DJ, Simone Clark-Robinson or DJSWhit. “Simone would see me walking around with my DJ headphones, and saw that I DJ’d. I wanted to know what I could do to be a DJ for Post,” explained DJ.
Still virtually unknown being the ambitious person he was and inquiring more about it, he was given the opportunity to open up for her at the Retro Rave, a campus party in 2009. “Persistence is everything, and I respect people who don’t take no for an answer. I was the same way,” Simone said. “I think everybody deserves a chance.”
The Retro Rave was just the beginning, and soon he was DJing at a few parties here and there, gradually honing scratching skills that he’s now well-known for. Between that and receiving compliments for DJing at off-campus clubs, he was finally given the job because of word of mouth.
From his experience at clubs he’s developed his own DJing style that the Post community can look forward to hearing. “I listen to everything and I play everything. I’ll try anything once to see what the crowd moves to,” he says adamantly, “the downfall of any DJ is playing only what’s on the radio.” After searching his music collection of about two terabytes (250,000 songs) he’ll play whatever the crowd seems to be “vibing” to that day, whether it be Oldies, Techno, or Pop. “You can get the same crowd on two different weekends and they want to hear to completely different things. I feel my crowd out as best as I can,” he says.
DJ’s willingness to experiment to please his party and strong personal marketing skills also helps his recommendations grow. He is a Twitter enthusiast, with around 1,800 followers and an email blast of over 10,000. “I try my best to market myself to everyone. I never want to stick to just one type of music,” he says. In addition to his DJ career, he promotes not only for himself but also for Ontop and Goodfellaz Entertainment with flyers – known prominently throughout the boroughs for renting and selling out clubs wherever they throw parties.
This young DJ may keep himself busy between promoting, DJing, school, work, and track, but he keeps a level head on his shoulders by maintaining a 3.6 GPA. As much as his skills and fan base have grown since he started DJing, he still insists that he’s here for school and that being a DJ is a part of him that he shows from time to time. “I just want to have fun and give the people a good time. It’s not a life-long thing…more like where it takes me,” he said. “If I happen to get on the radio, I’m going to run with it.”
For now all he’d like is to become respected through his music and eventually become the number one DJ on campus with improvement, welcomed competition, and requests, like his predecessor. “You have to show them something better than me if the people are so use to me,” said Simone, who started off with a simple radio show on WCWP and said she never expected to become the campus DJ. “At the end of the day, it’s up to the students to choose what DJ they want to provide music for their events.”
Runnin’ With DJ Runna
Byline: Nhya East