The past few days I've been watching the Democratic National Convention on PBS, and it seems every speech stresses the importance of giving back to the community. DJ O.G.ONE certainly doesn't skimp in that category. This week we speak to DJ O.G.ONE, aka David Jackson. His resume is rather impressive—and not only when it comes to DJing. The full-time DJ is the official man behind the decks for the Blazers; he has a Sunday night show on Jammin 107.5; and can be found playing out in several NW venues among many other regular activities. He's made two appearances on BET's ever popular Rap City
show, and lucky for us, he shares a funny request story from opening the recent Nas concert in Portland. However, outside of those high profile gigs he is a devoted father and mentor, spending time with Jefferson high school students through Self Enhancement Inc. and leading by example that there is life outside of gangs.
DJ O.G.ONE discusses his view of Portland Public Schools based on his time spent at Jefferson, and Barack Obama pops up twice over the course of this edition of Hang the DJ. In regard to his spinning skills, we get into how he came to find himself on the court of the Rose Garden, his mixtapes, and the back breaking labor of using vinyl as a medium and the rewards that come from it. Then there's his sponsorship deal with Toyota Scion and producing for Adidas athletes including football star Reggie Bush and boxer Laila Ali and a host of other things. Stay tuned for the mugs of Michael Jordan and Cassie (yes, she's that beautiful without airbrushing) and the wise words this upstanding citizen has on the topic of respect for others.
How did you decide on your DJ name? What's your real name?
My real name is David Jackson. The DJ name O.G.ONE actually came from a program that some former gang members from O.S.P. had started with the idea of having various activities with the purpose of educating and motivating youth to stay away from the negative associations of gangs. The organization was called "Original Gangway." Each member was assigned a number to establish a chain of command, which led to me having the numeral 1, because of my leadership and influence within the community. Well the program never really got off the ground the way that they intended and I really took a liking to the name, but didn't want anyone to think it was gang related or influenced, so I revised the meaning to make it fit my own internal belief which is ONE.GOD. I'm just one who believes that that is where all success comes from.
Oregon State Penitentiary.
As the Rapture say, "People don't dance no more, they just stand there like this." How often do you encounter this?
Ha! mainly with youth under 18, because for the most part the art of dancing doesn't exist beyond the style of soft porn grinding. There was a time where people took towels to dances because the dances were so physical that it was a workout, but today most of the girls do all of the work being on the floor, booties in the air or literally on their backs and the guys are just standing there watching the show. Maaaaannn! I miss those days.
People who come to party! Doesn't matter the color or age, but people who don't care about how they look, what they have on or whose in the room, they just want to let go and have fun... those are the best parties.
How do you feel about requests?
I don't have a big problem with requests because I'm there for the people, but
the only problem I have with requests is the approach; if you see that I'm right in the middle of a blend, just wait until I'm into the next record then hit me up or when I have a line of ten people all asking at the same time. Other than that, I love to get what the people are feeling Oh! Oh! Wait! One more thing! If I'm doing a slow jam set at the end of the night, don't ask me to play NWA... lol
Do you have a story about a particular request or requester?
Maaaannn! So I had this guy who asked me to play Vanilla Ice at the NAS concert. WTF! He wanted to get me killed...
What do you think your most high profile show has been?
The highest profile event I think, for me personally, would be when I got a chance to make two national appearances on Rap City
DJ O.G.ONE Rap City Appearance 2004:
You have a vast collection of celebrity pics that includes Mos Def, Rihanna, John Kerry, Twista ,T.I. and Bow Wow, among others. Do you have any celebrity stories? Memorable moments?
The most crazy story was when I DJ'd for Micheal Jordan.
Two days prior I totally tore my Achilles tendon. Doctor said I had to be off of my feet. My response to the doctor was that whatever he had to do to help with the pain, do it, because there was no way I was going to miss the chance to DJ for MJ.
So I DJ'd his party on crutches and when I asked for a picture with him, he looked at my crutches and said "you were playing basketball right?" I said "yep" and he laughed and said "you getting old." I said said, "Mike you're wrong" and we both laugh[ed]. So I really took that picture on one leg and in total pain.
Who do you most want to meet and/or get a picture with?
Obama! because that is a part of history.
What do you think of Cassie's new single "Official Girl?"
It's a good song, could be even better, but if they market it right and make sure that she has strong writers involved in the rest of her album she should do well.
How often do you do mixtapes? How important do you think they are for promotion in terms of yourself and artists who appear on them?
I try to do a mixtape at least three times a year, as a way to continue branding my name as well expose consumers to new music.
Do you DJ full time? What do you do outside of DJing?
No, other than spinning I also mentor high school & college kids through Self Enhancement Inc. I feel it's very important for any artist/entertainer etc. to have a balance of giving back.
Did you have a mentor growing up?
Yes I did. It was the major part in getting me out of gangs in Los Angeles and showing me the importance of being a positive role-model.
In regards to your mentorship, what are your thoughts on Portland Public Schools right now?
I think that there are people in positions of power in the public school system that have overall concepts of what they think should go on in schools, but have no realistic idea of the daily needs of kids. Most spend time playing political games and in the end it's the kids that suffer. Example: I have been mentoring kids at Jefferson High School for over six years and within that I have seen at least five different principals come and leave.... Now is that a kid problem? Or is that a district problem? I have also seen the district move good teachers who the kids love and respect, out of that school, just to replace them with individuals that if they had a preference Jefferson would not be the place they'd want to teach.
Where can we find you?
People can hear me every Sunday night on the Jammin Underground show on 107.5FM from 8 pm-midnight, hosted by STARCHILE. They can also catch me in the mix on www.swurvradio.com every Tuesday-Thursday nights 12- 1 am in the Booty Call Slow Jam Mix. People will also be able to find me at a lot of the Portland Trailblazers games this season as the Official Blazer DJ. Everything else is on the calendar on www.myspace.com/djogone.
To get more specific about the Blazers gig—did they approach you?
I'm good friends with team President Larry Miller as well as some of the players and it was just talking about ways to enhance the vibe at the games and of course I suggested O.G.ONE in the mix as well as some of the players wanting good mixes during warm up... so it was a collab.
DJ O.G.ONE during soundcheck at the Rose Garden:
How long have you been involved with the Blazers? I noticed you DJed a half time show earlier this year.
I have been doing special Blazer events for some time now, but more importantly I have built very positive relationships amongst staff as well as players, so the transition into now becoming the Official Blazer DJ is natural.
How'd you get your current main gig?
Word of mouth! I work hard, I'm professional, I treat people with the respect. I desire to get and I'm actually good at what I do, so in return I get pretty good gigs.
How long have you been spinning?
Over 20 years.
What drew you to DJing originally?
Love of music and DJing and producing was my way of expressing the love.
Working on any production projects now?
I just finished producing tracks for Laila Ali, Reggie Bush, and about four other Adidas Athletes for their training videos.
How did you come to be sponsored by Scion? To what extent are you sponsored?
Well, I won't put all of my business out there, but it really comes down to what I do overall. I'm a DJ who is actively involved in community and strive to use my status to create a balance on the industries' influence over youth. So Toyota/SCION and I teamed up with the understanding that having a fresh car influences kids, but for me the most important part is me being able to tell a kid that I didn't have to sell drugs, disrespect anyone or be in gangs to get it for free, but in fact I worked hard, treated people with the respect I wanted and did good business... and that's why I have a deal with Toyota.
What are your thoughts on vinyl vs CDs vs laptops?
Wow! Loaded question. The best way I can answer this is by saying this: I think anyone who dares to want to get respected as a DJ should start with vinyl period. Then after laying that foundation then graduate to more advance technology, because with wax, having to spend hours digging in crates, getting cuts on your fingers, breathing in the dust and having sore backs from lifting will give you a greater appreciation for the art of DJing. For those that just jump into Serato, CDJs, Laptops, and etc. first, cheat themselves out of being a part of a legacy. I love using both vinyl and CDJs [and] Serato. Serato has saved my many days of going to the doctor for back problems, and CDJs are easier for me to travel with, but no matter how advance technology gets, I would not and will not ever neglect my 1200s and my vinyl collection.
How much traveling do you do for DJ gigs?
I travel at least five times a year to different places to DJ.
Where's your favorite place outside of the Portland area to play?
My favorite place to DJ is New York.
What songs will we find ourselves dancing to with you?
Depends, because I play for a variety of different crowds, but my most favorite party songs are:
1. Funkadelic - "Knee Deep"
2. Notorious B.I.G. - "Juicy"
3. Maxwell - "Don't Ever Wonder"
4. DJ Quik - "Tonight"
5. Underground Favorite - Talib Kweli - "The Blast"
How would you describe yourself in five words or less, complete sentence or not:
Loving, respectful, stands for integrity
How do you describe the genre you play?
What makes you move...
Does your son have an interest in stepping up to the decks as a DJ?
LOL. My son likes music, [but] how he chooses to express it is still unknown and I wouldn't push that on him because ultimately I have a purpose in why I DJ that goes beyond spinning records.
Who are your other favorite Portland DJs?
The Mighty Juggernaut; DJ Chill; DJ Wicked; DJ Evil One and Mello Cee, but I think Portland has a lot of great DJs period.
What do you think of the DJ scene with in Portland?
I think Portland has some of the best DJs in the world in terms of talent. I hate it that as a collective whole they don't really work together and support each other. I don't feel like any DJ in Portland should feel less of a DJ by showing love to other DJs. Be great at what you do, because nobody can be you. So if you hear O.G.ONE say he's the number one DJ in Portland, it's because I'm the best at what I do and no other DJ is doing what I do in this town. And I don't just mean on the ones and twos, but by stepping out and being an example of how a DJ should carry himself/herself and be proactive in making change and being a positive contributor to the Portland scene period, not just be the person who just leeches from the town. The difference is, I think every DJ in Portland is the best at what they do and for those who focus on being haters it's only because they hate themselves and want to project that onto others.
Self Enhancement, Inc.
All photos care of DJ O.G.ONE Myspace