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TJ Mizell performs at A$AP Ferg’s Always Strive and Prosper listening party on Apr. 22, 2016. (Amurri)
For years, TJ Mizell was known as the son of legendary DJ and Run–DMC founder, Jam Master Jay. These days, the 25-year-old is making a name for himself as A$AP Ferg‘s tour DJ and on WE tv’s reality show, Growing Up Hip-Hop. He’s also an ambassador for Scratch DJ Academy, which his father founded in 2002. We caught up with Mizell while he was on tour with Ferg in the U.S. to find out what it’s like DJing for one of the hottest rappers in the game.
How did you become A$AP Ferg’s DJ?
It all started when I made a scratch video using A$AP Rocky’s “Peso” and “Trilla” and MP Williams’ “Peso” remix. A$AP’s team saw it, and we built a relationship from there. Ferg and I then linked at a Drake show, and the rest is history.
What exactly is your role?
I create the live set. That includes song selection and order, which varies per show.
What’s a typical day like on tour?
I wake up and check out the city’s scene, hit soundcheck, do promo runs, skate, eat local food, make music and download new tunes, hit the stage for showtime, go to the after-party, sleep, and leave for the next city.
What’s your current live DJ setup?
I use two Technics 1200 turntables, a Pioneer DJM-S9 mixer, and Shure M44G needles.
Do you incorporate turntablism into his sets?
Yeah, I scratch and cut up all of Ferg’s adlibs and records.
TJ Mizell performs with A$AP Ferg at the Free Press Summer Festival in Houston. (Steven Guzman)
Speaking of cutting, do you still work with Scratch DJ Academy?
Yes, for sure. Whenever I’m home, I stop by the academy. I also do events with the squad as well! I learned everything I know there. I’m always preaching the importance of the school.
Have you found it difficult to balance your solo career with being an artist’s DJ?
Not really. I love the life experience that comes with DJing for an artist. I DJ for one of the best acts in the game, so it’s a feeling that is second to nothing.
What type of impact has being Ferg’s DJ had on your career?
I’ve gained a lot of experience and exposure working with Ferg.
How has your father and Run-DMC’s legacy influenced you as a DJ?
100%. Their legacy has taught me that it’s possible to change the world through music. Run-DMC changed the game with by bringing hip-hop and rock and roll music together. We now see genres blend every day. They made it possible to look at music without boundaries.
Do you have any advice for someone who wants to DJ for an artist?
Have fun with it and be as creative as possible with the live set. The DJ is the second most important role after the artist. Own it and be sure to practice!