So tell us; tell the people, who do not know yet and shed light to them as to who is DJ Q1 and who is he working with and what does radio basically mean to you?
Dj Q1 is a vinyl record collector and turntablist based in Durban, I would like to believe I’m a hip-hop activist because that is where the radio station came from. Radio means medium of communication and a tool to we can use to share music, our views about the world and personally it’s an extension of what I do as a music fan and DJ.
I am working with a team of like-minded and very ambitious people. Over the past month or two I became part of a business networking initiative namely The Hustlers Club and they have been very helpful to the success of Radio Steez and it’s branding and value proposition. From when we started we have collaborated with many people including G West Beatz who did our logo and Lwazi Gwijane who has helped with overall image with his graphic design company CAMAGU CREATIVE.
Through The Hustlers Club I have been able to find another collaborator who is currently helping us with content creation and his name is The Ambitious Man. We recently got PR interns from ICESA Collage to help us with marketing, events and other daily work which has been great so far and this has though me no one can operate a business on his own. We also collaborate with The Put On which is a Durban based group of really dope content creators.
Since Hip-Hop is the heart of the radio station; can you tell us what is Hip-Hop to you and how would you view Radio Steez?
KRS-ONE once said something like, rap is something you do and hip hop is something you live. To me that means I do not take hip hop as just a music genre but a way of life. For more than 10 years I have tried to align what I do with hip hop even though it is such a difficult thing to do when you transition from a young man in his teen into adulthood. We at a age where it’s either you get a job somewhere or you have to make sure what you do artistically will eventually provide food on the table and I got married 5 years ago.
Radio Steez started as a passion driven project with purists in mind but 7 months down the line we have grown into a proper online radio station, we are now looking into involving more sub-cultures which have had an influence to hiphop like funk, jazz, soul, just to name a few. I would like people to view Radio Steez as a radio station and not think it is just an app, website or blog because the app and the website are things we use as tools to reach more people. I encourage people to go download our app on google play and app store today.
Can you tell us about the time you had first started live six months ago; from that first experience did everything go accordingly and what worked – what didn’t work?
To be honest, I had done my research for more than three months and when it was time to go live I had all the information I needed and financial resources I needed. All went well and the most surprising thing is that everyone was willing to collaborate from artists, graphic designers, blogs etc… But as something I had funded with my own funds, there were things we couldn’t do like taking our mobile app to Apple devices. For that I waited until recently until we met investors from The Hustlers Club and right now we have managed to do a event activations, branding and proper positioning. We are still finding ways to getting our studio space so we could be able to do more for hip-hop like interviews, get more presenters. Working as a one man band does not work, I have learnt that collaborating is very important to help one grow his business.
We(I) understand that the Radio Steez has set up itself so well and has a clear vision and aim that is to work towards leading and being an innovative radio station with a strong involvement as well as an environment of authenticity, passion driven and people centric, with that being said, if you had to describe your radio station in 2-5 words, how would you describe it?
REAL HIP HOP IS NOT ON THE RADIO
Why would you say now is the time for Radio Steez to exist?
For real, this is the time where everything is shifting to the digital space. If your business has no online presence it is almost bound to fail in a way. I thought it was a right time to enter the digital space at a moment where everything seems to be going online. Remember I SPEAK HIPHOP MAGAZINE and HYPE MAGAZINE went 100% online? I wrote briefly for I SPEAK HIPHOP but what I am saying is, it made business sense to start an online radio. Secondly, there is a huge gap between the new school and old school. Underground hip hop heads felt misrepresented by mainstream radio. Ours is to bring the gap between the two. The mainstream has the buying power but a lot of people who listened to Skwatta Kamp and Wu Tang Clan or Prophets of the City have jobs nowadays.
Radio Steez exists to play that original music. The problem with radio is that in most cases is dictated by trends and it is no longer about breaking new records rather by what’s hot and who has more followers on twitter or Instagram. By the look of things, our kids are catching up and I predict that the people (because of the internet) will go back to the authentic staff. Look at what happened to fashion. People will get tired of being fed the same artist.
What is your take on S.A Hip Hop at this point in time?
Right now people are replicating a formula that works and has been tried and tested. Some kids have tried to follow what Sjava does, most rappers on high radio rotation right now are replicating what is being done in the states. Our SA Hip-Hop is going through a phase and makes one wish more rappers would be exposed to the mainstream to create more competition and balance. For example, Azania by Reason ft Swizz Beatz and Sibongile Khumalo would be rejected by a mainstream because it’s not trap. It has come to a point where a DJ would clean a club if he played Groundworks or Izithunywa Zohlanga. What I mean is, someone who just became a hiphop head would not think Ngqondo is hiphop. At the same time there is growth with the beat scene and the battle scene. We wanna see more beat battles, rap battles, break dancing events, and graffiti writers painting more walls.
There are more battle leagues to a point where at the time Scrambles4Money started, big radio stations started inviting rappers to come and battle live on radio. We just want to see more of that so we can balance the culture, not flood the radio and tv with only one type of rapper or Dj. I want hear Dj KGB or Tha Cutt on a national radio’s breakfast mix and all that kind of staff. Some new heads get confused when they see Hymphatic Thabs on Back To The City’s main stage.
One of the aims as Radio Steez is to encourage more African artists to express themselves in their indigenous languages and that is really such a big deal for African artists as a whole, such an amazingly awesome opportunity you’re enabling to the artists – a platform that is rarely put out. How do generate ideas as well as organize, plan and prioritize your work?
We have a team that helps us execute all these plans; I now only handle the creative side of the business. We have listeners all over the world because we are an online radio station so we not limited like fm radio.
What was your journey like to get where you are?
I feel like I am nowhere near where I want to be but I am in the right path towards attaining some of those goals. In the process of being where I am, I have got married, started a family and with all that I feel like I can still do more. I have always been a big hip-hop fan first and foremost. I have published a book “100 REASONS WHY SA HIPHOP IS IN DANGER OF BECOMING EXTINCT” and would really like to publish a 2nd edition of that book, I have wrote for I SPEAK HIPHOP, blessed to play 2 times at BACK TO THE CITY. The journey has just started because we have been low key with what we do as diggers but because of business we got to go out and let it be known. I am learning, I do not claim to know everything and constantly have to empty my cup and learn new things.
How has technology such as computers, tablets, mobile phones and the internet to name a few, impacted on how you conduct your station? Has there been growth?
Based on our stats, our listeners listen via mobile phones and thanks to our new mobile app, we now able to cater for both Apple and Android users. All these devises will help us disrupt the market in a way. Whether you listen on your phone, tablet or computer we are grateful because it is all about accessibility. I like what Ricky Rick ssaid at the metro fm awards and ByLwansta put it this way “There are no gatekeepers on the internet”
10. What best advice have you received and what advice would you give out to another?
Collaboration is the way