D-Nice: “I Used To Cut Scott La Rock’s Hair”

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The G-List is TheUrbanDaily.com’s annual celebration of 40 influential men from various walks of life who define what it means to be a trendsetter with style in their field.

DJ D-Nice at Marc Jacobs Spring/Summer 2012 After Party

Name: DJ D-Nice

From: Bronx, NY

Occupation: DJ/Photographer

Affiliations: Various Clubs/True Hip Hop Stories

D-Nice is somewhat of a hip-hop anomaly. He’s gone from rapper to DJ to photographer without so much as a peep from the critics. The entertainment industry is typically unforgiving to rappers who leave the mic, but D-Nice’s ability to multi-task has made his talent impossible to ignore.

EDUTAINMENT: D-Nice’s True Hip-Hop Stories

As one of the most sought after DJs, D-Nice is as popular today as he was when he was the young rapper down with the KRS-One led Boogie Down Productions crew. And for someone who was considered old school at 22 years old, he sure has turned the tables on ‘em.

You have made a very successful career out of DJ’ing and taking photos, even though you began as a rapper. How have you managed to transition so well in an industry known to be fickle?
I guess it’s about being selective with the gigs that I do, and the images I do when it comes to photography. Years ago, I saw that I wasn’t getting accepted like I wanted to. I always just wanted to be a producer. People convinced me to go into the direction of rapping. When I was no longer accepted as a rap artist, that was the moment I started following my real passion. Whether it was media, DJing, photography or writing, once I started to focus on the things that I love, the things that I would do for no money, things kinda fell into place.

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What was it like when you first started getting recognition as a DJ?
You know, none of this stuff was easy. It wasn’t easy to be accepted. A lot of the DJs laughed at the idea of me DJing and I went a different route. Being a celeb DJ wasn’t interesting when I started doing it. The only other dudes doing it was Biz Markie and Q-Tip. I kinda found my way spinning Rock and Roll records. Now, I’ve opened up for everyone from Billy Joel to Beyonce. It’s kinda nice to be able to bounce around different genres of music doing something I love.

You produced some interesting docs on some legendary hip-hop artists, under your “True Hip Hop Stories” series. Have you ever thought of doing one on yourself?
No, I’ve been toying around with it, but I really would like to work with someone who could help me. To do it [on myself], it’s kinda weird. I toyed with doing a first person documentary, but I wouldn’t know the right questions to ask. I’ve shot 20 of them on other artists. When it comes to documentaries, I wasn’t trying to create something that went on TV, I just wanted to talk to the guys I admired. It was nice that the artists feel comfortable enough to tell me their story. I’m a fan of these guys, and I want to know about what they’re up to. I do feel like I have something to say myself. I know my story is one that could inspire artists in general, to be whoever they want to be.

I’m almost afraid to ask you what’s in your iPod, because for a DJ, that list could go on all day, right?
We could. But surprisingly, the playlist that I keep [is] random. Curtis Mayfield Greatest Hits, Gladys Knight’s Claudine soundtrack album. It’s not even hip-hop. It’s more classic R&B songs that I’ve been listening to lately. I hear so much high energy in the club, I play up-tempo records, so when it comes to my private time I need music that I could calm down or read a book too.

How important is it for you to keep yourself well-groomed?
I think it’s important to be well-groomed. Maybe not for all DJs, but because of the type of DJ I am, I have to. You can’t DJ a Gucci or Marc Jacobs fashion show and not be. People wanna see you look a certain way. I’m representing brands when I DJ for them. When people look up at the DJ booth, they want to see someone who looks cool. We are the life of the party. It’s important to have on a nice shirt, brand new sneakers, nice shave and smell good.

Do you go to a specific barber?
Yes, I do. His name is Derrick “D-Nice” Jones. I groom myself. It comes from the days of old school, when I was rapping, and I had fell on hard times. I used to go to the barber all the time, and then when the money wasn’t coming in, I learned to shave properly and keep myself going. Now even though I’m doing well, I do my same routine.

So do you have enough skills to cut other people’s hair if you needed to?
Yeah, I have skills. I was never a barber, but I do know how to cut hair. I used to cut Scott La Rock and KRS’s hair. I wouldn’t say I was good at it, but I was okay. The truth is, if you look at the cover of Criminal Minded, the reason they are wearing hats, is because I jacked up Scott’s hairline. Yeah, it wasn’t that good.

The G-List is TheUrbanDaily.com’s annual celebration of 40 influential men from various walks of life who define what it means to be a trendsetter with style in their field.

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