I was extremely excited at the fact that I had just landed an opportunity to interview a pioneer of hip hop. One of the founding members of the legendary Get Fresh Crew, yeah that one with Doug E Fresh! His alias is DJ Chill Will. And like many Hip Hop pioneers he helped lay the foundation for all that is the genre that goes beyond boarders, religions, race, nation and creed. Specializing in one of the major elements of Hip Hop “DEE-JAYING”, Will has maintained a successful career in the field and has been fortunate enough to never work outside of his passion: music and entertainment. If you are not familiar with his impressive resume, you may recall a few of the many songs Will has co-produced in the late 80’s and into the golden era of Hip Hop, the 90’s’. Songs such as “Oh My God!” (1986), “The World’s Greatest Entertainer” (1988), “Doin’ What I Gotta Do” (1992), “Bustin Out!” (1992), “Superstition”(1994) and full production work on the popular single, “Where I Wanna Be Boy” by Miss Jones. Presently, Will has concentrated his focus on being an entrepreneur and Radio Personality and DJ on WBLS in New York with Doug E Fresh, Saturday 9pm to 11pm. Recently, the radio show has been picked up for syndication. Will took the liberty of carving time out of his demanding schedule to allow me to interview him for MusicExistence.com
ME: How do you feel about the current state of Hip-Hop?
DJ CHILL WILL: I appreciate hip hop today because it changed. Some of it I don’t care for because it seems cookie cutter. Some of it I get, some of it I don’t. It was like that with us back in the day though. It wasn’t Sam Cooke or the Commodores so our parents bugged out. *laughing* It wasn’t for them to get. Like now, Hip Hop isn’t made for me, so it isn’t for me to get. But it [Hip-Hop] had to change into something in order for it to survive. How long can you listen to the Doug E Fresh, the Big Daddy Kane’s or the KRS One’s doing the same thing. Hip Hop had to change. Even if the same artist were still leading the Hip Hop scene, when those artist change their style, people don’t follow that… but if those artist remain the same the people get bored. Its geared to a different genre of people now. It’s a whole different conversation now with Hip Hop and what its evolved into. Hip Hop used to be fun. Its all business and money now. People get shot for what they say on record. It used to be fun. Its crazy…but, I think change had to happen in order for hip hop to survive. For some, its very hard to accept, but, I understand that it had to change.
ME: Now that everything has gone digital in the realm of music production and distribution…when it comes to DJing, has technology made it so easy that anyone can become a DJ?
DJ CHILL WILL: The technique is almost the same it’s a lot easier now. A lot more people do it because the music is more accessible. *laughing* When you had to carry around crates of records, no one wanted to do that. Now everything is through a computer, if you need a song you just download it. There is no such thing as rare records…you just Google it and you find it. There is no exclusivity. So in that regard, it has become easier than back the day ….you had to work and sweat. *laughing* I appreciate it today. Man, I had to carry crates of records, I had to sweat back then. Anyone can DJ now. I used to spend hours upon hours in a record store, just looking for records to scratch…record stores don’t exist anymore. There was a time when that was a good day for a DJ… looking for records and meeting people, trading, networking, meeting other producers. Now a days, every one text messages and emails. Social media, like really… how social is that? Everybody is kind of faceless.
ME: Very true, you can’t feel the people that way, that’s what I appreciated most about old school DJ’s they had to feel the crowd, see the people and keep their ear to what was going on around them. What advice would you give to the new artist trying to gain exposure with the internet now being so popular?
DJ CHILL WILL: …You really have to stay on top of social media now, especially when you’re new as an artist, DJ anything…you have to be on every social media platform to be seen. But you also have to get out there in the real world. Its always about visibility. As long as you don’t go over the top to be visible you’re good. Extreme visibility …that wouldn’t be my first means of being seen but you know, just get on everything…social media…venues. Be visible. Another 15 years it could be something different.
Back in the day we just had to be places. Now, you can just interact online…all you got do is like someone’s status … something…anything, like pictures…people strive for likes now cause that could take you to a whole ‘nother level. *laughing* But that’s the language of right now. That’s just the way to do it cause you have to be on there. Me personally, I use it for booking and management to find people.
ME: *laughing* I totally understand. As I would shut down everything digital if I didn’t need it for just that. Speaking of networking, can you tell me what your current title is…how many hats does Chill Will wear? And I read you have an entertainment label and booking agency. Impressive. Please tell me more about that.
DJ CHILL WILL: I’m a DJ, Producer, Booking Agent, and I was a Manager at one point. I no longer manage because its too time consuming and its too hands on. I don’t have the time to invest in it the way I’d like to. My label is Chilltown Entertainment. I started the company in 2003. I wanted to be a one stop shop for all the professionals in my genre of music. I wanted it to be a place where everyone would call from all over for entertainment acts. We needed it to be set up this way as a one stop so that we cover ourselves so that outside agencies weren’t able to charge us outrageous prices for booking us at events for gigs. Three other managers were in partnership with me when we launched in 2003. After a short time, they thought it was too much work, and pulled out of the label. Once the business began to take off and pick up bigger talent, they tried to come back when it became lucrative. By then, the roster had changed, so I just continued on myself. I had taken the business from just booking old school acts to a lot of different types of acts. I would make calls and find out about the acts and gain new acts along the way. I now book every genre, any talent in the entertainment field. My clients include actors, comedians, host, reality stars, artist, I book everybody. It just took a life of its own. Chilltown Entertainment now, goes way beyond just music. People call for acts and we make sure we make it happen. I’m open to working with any type of established artist. I book talents that are well known, they have to be able to draw a crowd.
Contact info for Chilltown Booking:
ME: That’s big! I think its awesome that you have a successful Booking Agency. Can you tell me more about your Radio show with Doug E Fresh?
DJ CHILL WILL: Yes, WBLS, we just got picked up for syndication. Its moving along really well. We’ll be in a bunch of markets soon. Its very interesting doing radio. I had my own radio show a while ago, about three years ago to be exact, 2012. So I do have experience that I am carrying over to WBLS. This Radio show will include myself, Doug E and Barry. I spin on there (DJing). Topics we cover, we talk about what we do during the week, like a recap, we are out working during the week. Doug E will come in and talk about what we’ve done and what we have coming up. Those are the topics we talk about. We play and feature lots of old school Hip-Hop. There’s a guy that works with us as well, Kev Ski, he has archives of all the beats, and live performances of groups that a lot of people never even heard of…the ones that created Hip Hop. We play a lot of their live stuff on air. We air every Saturday from 9pm to 11 pm.
ME: Old School Hip Hop is a great market! A lot of people will be tuned in I am sure, especially in New York, the fact you guys have expanded to more markets is so dope. I think what’s doper is you and Barry and Doug still working together after all these years. How’s that been? What’s it like working with them both?
DJ CHILL WILL: We started out in High School, we’ve been friends forever. When we started out Hip Hop was just a hobby it wasn’t making a living. It was just cool to do. It was fun! We were fortunate enough to do only this. Its all we know and this is all we’ve ever done. This has been a blessing.
ME: If its not too personal, I know Slick Rick was once a part of the Get Fresh Crew…what happened?
DJ CHILL WILL: oh no, it’s not….yea, Slick wanted to do something different creatively, so you have to let people fly.
We still perform together. Never any ill will towards him or bad blood. We’re good. He just had a different vision.
ME: Good. That makes me feel a lot better. DJing is one of the elements of Hip Hop. Do you feel that modern day Hip Hop has lost respect for the DJ as an essential element?
DJ CHILL WILL: I don’t think that Hip Hop lost respect for the DJ. They just don’t understand the role of the DJ. I just think the focus has shift more to the artist in the front stand. The artist tend to stand out more. The DJ used to be upfront and the emcee was just there to sprinkle things up because the DJ wasn’t doing much talking, just a whole lot of scratching. It wasn’t until records started being made and recorded that those emcees or hype men became more. Today a lot of the people that are making music don’t really understand the role of the DJ. A DJ can switch it up…say for instance, a beat on a CD is just that when you perform live, that’s all you have. Back in the day we could get to a venue and the crowd be different from what we thought, as a DJ I could switch it up. You walk around with a CD and get to a venue you’re stuck with what you got. I can change it up though. A DJ is a rapper’s band. That’s what made it fun, a band, a hype man an emcee.
ME: Wow. Never thought about it like that. I guess I was ignorant to the role of it myself. Any last statements you’d like to make regarding the art?
DJ CHILL WILL: Hip Hop isn’t fun any more. Its too business now. So much weighs on what the emcee says. Its recorded you say something crazy and its all business now. This is how people get shot. Money got involved. But again, its like I mentioned, sometimes it has to change for the art to survive.
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