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JA: Today I am here with…
PM: My name is Pauly Macc. What’s up Las Vegas how y'all doing?
GB: And I’m DJ Get Bucc from Staten Island, New York. I am a member of the Fleet DJ’s and CEO of Next Level Radio.
JA: We’re here to talk about an after-school program that the two of you have developed. DJ Get Bucc, why is the program necessary?
GB: When I was younger, I was so involved with hip-hop. I used to listen to Wu Tang and the radio stations. I would get involved with the DJs because I used to see them at block parties, so when I started realizing they were controlling the parties, I really got into it. Unfortunately, I didn't really know how to get started or how to even become a DJ. So, when I ended up getting my set of turntables, I didn't have the chance to learn from anybody, I had to teach myself. Fast forward to today, I realize there are kids and youth that may be into hip-hop, who might want to be DJ, but just don't know how to get started.
I grew up in a rough neighborhood and DJing kept me from being involved with all the negativity in the neighborhood. So, thinking back when I was a teenager, ‘Well I have a skill which I can teach the youth, why not take my skills and pass it on to the young ones? I can give them an avenue that's different from what they're going through, as far as being a part of the gang neighborhoods and listening to negativity in hip-hop.’
So I felt putting together a DJ class not only would give an education of where hip hop comes from in our urban communities, but it can also provide them a skill that could probably help them in the future.
JA: Pauly Macc I know that being from the West Coast you’re coming in with a different flavor. Tell me about your background and why you chose to get involved?
PM: What got me involved? When I moved from Chicago, Illinois to San Jose, California, and then to Las Vegas, Nevada more specifically Gerson Park I met DJ Mike White. I originally learned on his turntables and the mixer, which he taught us on at the Boys and Girls Club. After I moved out of Gerson Park, I moved over to Wrigley Estates where DJ Kevin Brown really polished up my act. He taught me how to blend records together, so DJ Michael White and DJ Kevin Brown is why I want to give back to youth.
A lot of people have done a lot of nice things for me, I met Ice T when I was a young man and Ice T put me in the Rhyme Syndicate. I've traveled all over the country because I've been part of a great team, so I understand having a great team and having good people around you - such as DJ Get Bucc, who takes great care of his child, we could make a lot of things happen. So I decided that after my brother passed away, that I had to put some happiness in that spot, my brother Willis passed away and DJ Get Bucc was still sad from his mother passing away just a year prior, so I was like ‘you know what man, I'm going to help you refine your idea with the DJ school’, and then we became partners man, and we came up with Level Up DJ an After School Program.
JA: DJ Get Bucc, tell me about the first iteration of the program. Where are the classes and how did they get started?
GB: I was always teaching people how to DJ and after the skills that I’ve taught them, they actually took that skill and did something good with it. So, I figured OK well if I'm able to do that and give them something, even just the start of it, why not try to work with the youth? So, I actually DJ’d last year's Halloween Safe Night, so after the Safe Night I spoke to Miss D, the front desk lady at Doolittle, I let her know I know how to teach kids to DJ and if you are ever interested in putting that together. They were all for it, they said yeah let's do this, January 23rd, she said you know after all the holidays are done then we can get back to you and get back on track. I felt like I needed to bring somebody in that's been in the hip hop business a little longer than me. I learned more about hip-hop by being a member of the Universal Zulu Nation so of course when I thought about it, I remembered and brought in Pauly Macc because I know he's been around long enough to know about hip hop more than me. I've learned from him also, so by having him work with me while doing this DJ class it could help me out with avenues that I'm not sure of or might be missing out.
JA: Pauly Macc, what do you bring to the table for the classes themselves?
PM: Well, I bring a wealth of information. You know hip hop has five elements: you know it started off with the graph writer, the DJ, the dancers, then the MC, and the fifth element is the knowledge and information of where all that came from. I'm fortunate to have been a break dancer, a graph writer, a DJ and a rapper so I'm very fortunate to have all the elements and be able to bring the information as well. I bring a wealth of experience and a wealth of love. I love when the kids smile, it's like I get to see what I guess my mentors saw in me when I got a scratch right, now I look at them and say, “yeah you got it right”, so that for me, is the biggest reward of seeing those kids smile and happy, so I guess what I bring to the table is happiness.
JA: So, it’s as much as giving them an education on hip hop, teaching them how to DJ, as it is also keeping them safe and fed and nurtured in that environment until they're able to be home and their parents are off of work talk a little more about that.
PM: Well absolutely! In our second week, DJ Get Bucc and I, we're seeing that some of the kids were not paying attention, you know acting up a little bit and so we asked a few questions, ‘What's going on with you guys?’ We found out they weren’t getting enough food and were hungry. So even though Doolittle provides a meal sometimes, I don't know their schedule, we bought the extra 600 calories with a juice and a Lunchables so the kids can have some substance to be able to absorb the information that we're trying to teach. You know trying to teach a hungry kid how to DJ, or anything for that matter, is hard to do. So, we instituted our Lunchables program. We made sure they always had a Lunchables and something to drink. We also hand out t-shirts, t-shirts after they earned it, after they get their scratches right, after they did things correctly, we started giving a couple kids t-shirts to let him know that ‘hey you earned this shirt’. I'm not a participation type guy, you know what I mean? You have to earn whatever you're going to get and so when those kids got that shirt it made two other kids try harder. Then it made the older sister want to get a shirt and she tried harder, DJ YaYa Fresh and DJ Mona Lisa, but I mean it was just a wonderful thing, which is why we instituted the program.
JA: How can the community come together and support the program that you guys have? What specific steps can the community take?
GB: We are out here bringing back positive hip hop to the youth, so that they can really understand that hip-hop can play a positive role in our community. That's something that is needed, being that our community is a hip hop culture. Music is everywhere, our kids listen to it, you can watch it on YouTube, even when parents are not around, they listen to it, so they follow what they hear and what they see. I'm not saying you change everyone, but you have a chance to, maybe, just put something in there. Give them an idea of something better than what's going on right now.
PM: I’d like to reiterate, what we really need folks I'm going to be honest with you, we went from one sign up to 20 sign ups, to a full class, to 100 plus students a week, to a waiting list of over 480 people as of right now and it's growing on a daily basis. We would like to expand our program, so we need to get more equipment and we need to get a fund together so we can send other DJs to go to other community centers so we can implement this program wider, it's getting too big for Doolittle, it's getting too big for the Stupak center, the two centers that we're dealing with. We need help so we're reaching out to Rane Mixer to see if we can get a donation of some mixers, we're going to reach out to a couple of computer makers, so we can get 5 computers, 5 setups and that's pretty much about it. We need some equipment, we have so many kids to teach, we just need more equipment, and we need help.
GB: Also, with our program, we would like other DJ's to come and show their skills, so it's not just me and Pauly, if there's any DJ's out there mainly looking for some females, so the young females can see that it's not just an all men thing, so once they see more DJ’s looking like them, they can get more inspired like ‘OK well she's like me, look what she doing’. So, it will get them more involved.