Clinton Sparks is the definition of a workaholic. He has 10-plus projects staring him in the face at the moment and he strives to obtain about 10 more. Some of the endeavors have already hit the airwaves, like the remix he created for Lady Gaga’s “Bloody Mary,” of which the original has scored him a 2012 Grammy nomination. For a Boston boy who had his head buried in turntables and production equipment on the come-up, the nod is a dream come true. However, it’s an accomplishment earned due to his tireless work ethic.
But just because he’s constantly behind the boards doesn’t mean he’s a bore. “I have become the life of the party,” Sparks tells Rap-Up.com. Besides mixing records in the clubs, on his syndicated SmashTime Radio show, and playing some of his latest mixtape cuts on SiriusXM’s Shade 45, the DJ interviews Hollywood’s biggest stars and the music industry’s chart-topping talents as an E! correspondent. He uses his charm and comedic personality to deliver exclusive information to the masses. With over 14 years in the business, getting down to the nitty-gritty is second nature.
Looking at Sparks’ résumé proves his skill in crafting substantial tracks. Plies, T-Pain, Bun B, the Notorious B.I.G., Beyoncé, Ludacris, Busta Rhymes, and Akon are just a few of the names he’s produced and written records for. Yes, Clinton Sparks is a songwriter too.
Read on as the Interscope Records signee—he has an official album due this year—gives insight into the hectic life he leads, explains why he’s connected to a disco ball, and reveals the next track he’s dropping with Pitbull.
Eight years have passed since Nina Sky first emerged on the music industry radar with their self-titled debut album, replete with reggae-influenced vibes and smooth R&B numbers. Since then, the talented twosome of twin sisters Nicole and Natalie Albino have gone through various label deals, released music as an independent entity, and traveled the globe rocking stages as soulful songstresses. But singing isn’t the only feat that has thrown them into the spotlight. There’s also a rewarding DJ career that’s earned them gigs in European locales and at prestigious celebrity events thanks to the record-spinning prowess of Nicole, also known as DJ Ni** Sky.
Commanding turntables since she was a teeny bopper, the tattooed DJ has had to do her fair share of showing and proving, just so she could hang with the boys when it came to blending records. While some may have buckled under the pressure of having to display her talents at the snap of a finger for a nod of appreciation, Nicole knew it’s what she had to do in order to solidify her spot in a circle of elite mixers.
Years later, she’s gone from playing high school lunch rooms to hearing thousands of clubgoers chant her name as she spins the classics. Ni** Sky, who cites DJ Cocoa Chanelle and Neil Armstrong as inspirations, seamlessly moves from DJ to recording artist and utilizes both roles in her respective sets. As a group, she and her sister are readying the visuals for their new single “Day Dreaming.” On the mixing tip, she’s embarking on a new undertaking that will see her following the production path of ladies like Missy Elliott and Ester Dean.
Read on as Nicole describes the steps she took to get put on, reveals which Michael Jackson song always puts people on the dance floor, and admits why she fancies the lyrical style of one fresh-faced MC.
“Learning how to DJ in The Tunnel was the biggest life lesson,” Cipha Sounds tells Rap-Up.com of the famed New York City club where he got his start. “Not music [lesson, but a] life lesson. I literally got ice and bottles thrown at me in The Tunnel if I played a bad song.” Those kind of stories may seem like big white lies, but this Bronx native truly experienced the good, the bad, and the ugly on the come-up at the venue. There, he met veteran Hot 97 mixer Funkmaster Flex, who saw talent and tenacity in a young Puerto Rican dude with a knack for blending records.
Not only did Cipha serve as a stellar intern for Flex back in the day, he took notes and applied the elder DJ’s music industry-savvy ways to his own career. The turntable specialist, who’s also a comedian—he runs a monthly stand-up series called “Don’t Get Gassed” at Carolines in the Empire State—was able to score his own mixshow on Hot 97. Now, 14 years later, he still has his own spot on the station, serving listeners with the latest from big name rap stars and soulful crooners, but with an added bonus—he has his own morning show, “The Cipha Sounds & Rosenberg Show with K. Foxx.”
His voice is synonymous with radio, but Cipha’s also graced TV and movie screens over the years. A role in the 2002 Spike Lee-directed film 25th Hour as well as gigs on Comedy Central’s “Chappelle’s Show” and MTV’s “Direct Effect” are all a part of his massive résumé. He’s even had a hand in formulating the careers of artists like In Essence, Nina Sky, and The Kid Daytona. While his focus always has music at the forefront, seeing his comedy career soar to new heights is a priority on his agenda.
Read on as Cipha Sounds explains why Childish Gambino gives funny guys a good name, where a song about flaunting the middle finger fits in at a party, and what helping “hustlers” on the streets really means.
Roxy Cottontail never bores. The self-proclaimed musical curator has a head full of pink tresses, a smile that’s both scintillating and sweet, and a firm grip on New York City nightlife. If you want to party in the Big Apple, she’s the woman to call. And even though she wasn’t born and raised in the city that Jay-Z calls home, her life experiences and networking abilities in Baltimore and Philadelphia have lead her to cultivate some of the most jaw-dropping and booty-popping events in NYC.
Inspired by the likes of Spank Rock, Diplo, and Justine D., Roxy noted how these veterans commanded crowds, showcased underground acts, and were superbly creative in their approach to the party rocking lifestyle. She branded herself as a downtown NYC staple by throwing events such as her notorious Monday nights at Sway, then moved on to feed the appetites of beat-hungry music enthusiasts as a DJ, spinning vinyl, graduating to Serato, and mashing hip-hop tracks with electro smashes.
Ever the creative vixen, these days you can find her making cameos on old episodes of “How to Make It in America,” crafting new songs like “Bounce Little Kitty,” which feature her tempting vocals, designing a handmade dress for the next brunch she’ll host at Yotel hotel, or spinning a set for the next artist to watch.
Read on as this lady bunny gives Rap-Up.com the scoop on her new record label, the female rapper she fancies—and the one she’s not too keen on—and how a company touting her same moniker gave her a big break in Hawaii.
Need exclusive beats? Call Scram Jones. Want a versatile DJ? Call Scram Jones. The New Rochelle, New York native isn’t satisfied with laying claim to one career goal, as his 11-plus years experience in the music industry proves. He’s even mastered the art of spitting rhymes on the mic. Obviously this turntablist is in a league of his own. From creating original production for the likes of Mariah Carey to touring with the Wu-Tang Clan, Scram’s résumé reads like a wannabe DJ’s wish list.
Armed with a degree in audio engineering and sociology from Ithaca College, this record spinner relied on the fundamentals of his studies—formulating beats and crowd watching—to lock down a lucrative occupation. Not many can say they rub elbows with iconic rappers in the studio one day then spin for top models and rich kids at some of New York City’s posh hotspots. Yet Scram Jones does it all with a hip-hop edge.
After all, the boom bap of rap music is where he got his start. But his longevity in the game is due to his ability to take his mastery of hip-hop on all levels—MC, producer, and DJ—and mash it with genres like electro, rock, and house. As 2012 approaches, he’s in a good position, with two albums set for release, club residencies in effect, and a production schedule that beats any stock broker’s calendar.
Remember 2007’s dance floor smash “Get Buck in Here”? Diddy and Akon saturated the song, but the mastermind behind it was producer and radio personality DJ Felli Fel. The Los Angeles resident, who’s a meld of Italian, Creole, and Portuguese, has transitioned from juggling beats in the back of apartment complexes 20 years ago to honing the perfect sound at state-of-the-art recording studios under his Rock Hill Productions imprint.
While production is at the forefront of his career, his prestigious gig as a jock and mixshow DJ at L.A.’s Power 106 is what keeps his name constantly buzzing on the West Coast. But the self-proclaimed History Channel buff doesn’t keep his feet planted in the city for too long—he’s got a party to attend. From Japan to Las Vegas, the South Carolina-born record spinner hops on a plane with the quickness to command the turntables at venues throughout the world.
As 2012 approaches, Felli Fel is dabbling in almost every aspect of entertainment, whether via computer screen or television. “We’re about to relaunch DJFelliFel.com at the top of the year [and] I’m hosting this new show called ‘Ride of Honor,’ which is from the same producers as ‘Pimp My Ride,’ and features soldiers returning from the war to find their rides hooked up,” he tells Rap-Up.com. With those projects in the bag, there’s a new plan to execute involving a rapper from Queens and a tattooed R&B star he’s particularly excited about.
Read on to find out what Felli’s got in store, which artist “blew his mind,” and why birthday celebrations are about to get a new anthem.
DJ Tay James has a boss who’s still a teenager. Armed with turntables and a business management degree from Hampton University, the Baltimore native serves the beat during performances for pop marvel Justin Bieber. The 24-year-old record spinner landed the coveted gig just three months after throwing his cap in the air at his graduation ceremony. “I called my dad and said, ‘I’m about to go on tour,’” Tay recalls. “He said something like, ‘It’s about damn time.’”
Though his parents weren’t keen on their son digging through crates and picking through Serato selections at first, Tay says his mom is now his No. 1 fan, especially after watching him on the “Today” show. She should be, considering he created a lucrative business as a professional DJ at the tender age of 16. With his beat-matching abilities and party-rocking skills landing him in clubs throughout the world, Tay, who cites DJ Alizay as a mentor and DJ Jazzy Jeff as an inspiration, surprises his listeners.
“I’m the type of DJ who will play Katy Perry and mix it with Soulja Boy,” he admits. “I’m unorthodox.” Read on as he explains the method to some of his madness.
“I’ve seen the right people do the wrong things,” Mr. Mauricio says of his experience working with music’s biggest names as one of the nation’s top DJs. “One day I say I’m gonna write a book and that’s what I’ll retire on.” Celebrities can breathe easy though because the Miami mixer isn’t about to spill his secrets just yet. He’s more concerned with making crowds groove at bourgeois establishments like South Beach’s LIV and Hollywood’s Playhouse.
While most record spinners these days opt to use Serato, Mauricio comes from an era of lugging crates filled with vinyl. But the tattooed DJ, who cites DJ AM, Mark Ronson, and Kid Capri as influences, has always adapted to the change in the music climate. However, his foundation lies in two turntables and records. Tune in to Southern Florida’s Power 96 to get a taste of his fluid mixes on the wheels of steel, as he holds listeners down on the afternoon drive during his Traffic Jam mixshow. From hip-hop to house, this music industry veteran runs through classics to new cuts.
As a member of the elite DJ management company S.K.A.M. Artist, Mr. Mauricio has taken his party rocking skills worldwide. He’s the reason songs get ingrained into clubgoers’ psyche and never leave. The same artists he mixes in his sets are those he drops some words of wisdom on, from Rick Ross to Rihanna to Calvin Harris. The trendsetter also lets loose on Page Six mentions and the value in production. Check out his story.