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Live & Local with DJ Shawty Slim

Catch DJ Shawty Slim at The Over Do Day Party at Roasted Cafe and Lounge April 1, 1pm

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Many people may know DJ Shawty Slim as B.o.B.’s DJ, but in Macon he has become synonymous with epic afternoon dance parties and is also the production designer behind former Macon hip hop artist Floco Torres’s more recent albums, such as Porsche and Dreamboard.  One of Slim’s day parties, called The Over Do Day Party, will be held April 1 at Roasted Cafe and Lounge.  With many other local DJs in tow, the party promises a variety of music genres and a high-energy kickstart to The Cherry Blossom Festival Street Party.  I spoke with Slim about his beginnings as a DJ, B.o.B., his new project with Torres, and the importance of emotionally connecting to music.

How did you start DJing?
I went to Fort Valley State because my mom wanted me to go to college. I was a smart kid in high school. I always liked music. Never wanted to DJ. I went to Fort Valley and I really wanted to get into parties for free. I started working for the radio station. I taught myself how to blend one weekend. I just became a DJ. It was ramen noodle money. I’ve always had a real high musical aptitude and I’m real quick on learning. I just self-taught. It was a miracle [laughs].

Rapper B.o.B.

How did you get started with B.o.B.?
I went to college for four years and dropped out. I listened to Kanye West’s first album one time and I dropped out that same day. I was like this guy makes a lot of sense. My mom was mad as hell at me. By that time I knew how to DJ and I got an internship at 97.9. I worked my way up from just doing a mix show for free, to doing the production and being a production manager, to getting the night show, to having the number one show. I didn’t ask for all of this, it just kind of kept happening. One day one of the DJs said this guy from Atlanta has some music he wants you to hear. So it was B.o.B.’s song called “Cloud 9.” It’s about smoking weed. I said this is cool, but I can’t play this on the radio. He had another song called “Haterz Everywhere.” I start playing that and I played it so much that it got traction in the city and we ended up getting him a show at Club Levels, which used to be on Cherry Street. By that time I got suspended. My boss did a report [and asked me] what’s this B.o.B. song that keeps popping up? I’m like that’s the hottest shit in the streets. He said that isn’t how radio works; you can’t just play what you want. I got suspended for a week and B.o.B.’s show did really well and they never forgot me. Two years later,”Nothin’ On You” came out, he became a superstar, and he was like I need a DJ for the Rihanna tour.

What’s one of the most surprising places that you’ve been?
Jakarta, Indonesia. It’s such a poor country. As we left the venue we’re on the a bus and I look out the window and there are two guys in the actual dirt playing chess under a streetlight. That just kind of got to me. We take a lot of stuff for granted here.

What has surprised you most about music in other cultures?
What surprises me now is the Internet has made the world a lot smaller. Before B.o.B. went on in Kenya, I DJed.  I played a couple of hot songs from America. I know America sets the standard for a lot of genres of music. But I was playing some really hood shit and they knew all the words. Music is powerful. Music reaches far, and these young kids are all online. Anything someone puts out they know from one corner of the earth to the other. That’s beautiful, man.

Tell me about the Over Do Day Party.
There is a legendary day party that happens in California in L.A. sponsored by Adidas called The Do-Over. I wanted to do my own Do-Over but call it the Over Do. Macon has a lot of good DJs that get overlooked. I’ll admit I may be a little more popular than a lot of people. But, skill-wise, I don’t feel elite. We’re all good at what we do. The first time we did it I had eight DJs, which probably had never happened at a party. Among the DJs we call it church, because you can do what you want. It’s going to be me, Bruce [Wonder], B-3 . . .I mean I like playing with Bruce.  We have fun playing different genres of music. So the party’s more for me [laughs]. I just let everybody come. [Robert] Fisher is going to pull the smoker out front. We’re doing a coffee tasting before the party.

The other day you posted on Facebook about how the artistry of a song moved you to tears.  What was that song?
On Netflix there’s a documentary about Nina Simone. Early in her career, she did a song called “Little Lizza Jane” and she did at the Newport Jazz Festival. She had gotten a little notoriety. [Her guitar player] remembered her telling him, I don’t know why I’m here. He was like you’re here because you’re supposed to be here. She was a real devout artist. She was all about the work and she really let herself go. There was a clip on that video when she did that song and I had never heard that song before. She was sitting on the stool. He was behind her on the guitar. There’s a guy on bass. So as they’re playing, there’s like a weird tempo to the song. She’s singing, she’s snapping. She’s hitting the tambourine. And the dude in the documentary said if you look at her every now and then she’ll start grinning because she’s letting herself go. I went on Youtube and found the song and listened to it with my eyes closed. This is the kind of music I want to make.

What do you think is the importance of music to ignite such emotions?
Music is one of a few things, to me, if it’s fake you don’t feel it. We live in a world where everything is commercialized. Everybody can make a hot song. But every hot song isn’t the same when you play it five years from now. I know plenty of hits that I can’t play in the club anymore. Everyone wants to create a classic. When people make classics they don’t do it intentionally. You have to be in a certain space. Music and love might be the two purest forms of authenticity in the world. Fake love and fake music, you can spot it from a mile away. It has to be genuine for it to work. And that’s why music is so powerful.

Let’s talk about you and Floco Torres and your new project.
The EP’s done and we’re trying to drop it in June. Every project we put out, we want the quality and the presentation to get bigger. The first time he did Bragg Jam after Dreamboard I almost cried. I didn’t tell anybody that. I made those beats in ’04 when I dropped out. I had dropped out of college and didn’t have a job yet and I was just making beats. I gave them to Floco and he just ran with them. I never thought sitting in my room, being broke, that I would hear a band play this and people cheering for this.

How is it working with him and living in different states?
It’s a lot of chatting via Google Hangout. But I chat with him every day. He’s always been the lead. I’d been a fan for a long time, but I’d never worked with him before Dreamboard. I just always saw this kid over here swinging at life as hard as he can, but he’s doing it by himself. I was like, I really want to help this guy because I see the potential in him. His desire to win runs so deep. I told him the other day, one day you’re going to have a million dollars in your account and we’re going to be on some balcony, in some country, and I’m going to put my arm around you and say, ‘I told you.’

Catch DJ Shawty Slim at The Over Do Day Party at Roasted Cafe and Lounge April 1, 1pm

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