Even for someone with 15-plus years experience traveling the world, hanging with Saudi royalty, navigating through Rap beefs, and dealing with all kinds of assorted insanity, DJ Whoo Kid can still be thrown for a loop. Case-in-point: April, 25 he spoke to a group of students at Harvard University’s Hip Hop Archive in Cambridge, Massachusetts as part of a panel discussion on “the integral role of education within entrepreneurship, Hip Hop and creative culture.”
“It was kind of nerve wracking,” he iterated later, though he credits a surprise appearance by Saturday Night Live cast member Jay Pharaoh (alongside Harvard grad and rapper Mike Philson) for making the panel more comfortable. “I’m never doing that again.” Between the club gigs around the world, hosting Whoolywood Shuffle, G-Unit Saturdays on Sirius/XM satellite radio, regular appearances on The Opie & Anthony Show, and still finding time to drop mixtapes, Whoo Kid has a wealth of experience on which to draw when answering questions by nervous college students.
Whoo Kid took some time before his talk at Cambridge to reflect on the current state of G-Unit, building with Michael Jackson, inspiring a young Kanye West and how he became the Hip Hop guy every EDM DJ loves.
DJ Whoo Kid Details His Reluctance To Share Professional Advice
HipHopDX: How was the experience of speaking to students at a university like Harvard?
DJ Whoo Kid: It was cool. Thank God I was there with Jay Pharaoh, he made it mad comfortable for me. I heard a lot of big words and all this crazy ass shit. I was thinking, “I hope these guys don’t think I’m a fucking professional expert or anything.” But it turned out to be good and enlightening, because I learned from the other people too. It came out good.
DX: Had you done anything like that before?
DJ Whoo Kid: Nah, never. I’ve done stuff where I’m talking on a panel and all that, but that’s easy. They’re not discussing real life situations. They’re asking about, “How do I become a DJ,” [or] the business; those are easy. But when you gotta dig deep into life and society and education, it’s too much for me to handle—especially on the radio. That’s why I make it so easy on my show. I just interview stars, I got the whores, I got the music. I keep it very simple. It’s entertainment. But when you are dealing with people who want to learn from what you do to become successful, it kind of makes me nervous. I’d rather people just see what I do because my stuff is out there. It’s no secret. It’s no Da Vinci Code to what I do, and it’s very easy. But when you try to explain it, it’s hard to explain my life when everything comes from random and circumstantial situations. This thing happened, that thing happened, somebody got shot, I met this guy… You can’t teach anybody about that. Everything that’s happened to me is on some fate shit. It’s just like the Michael Jackson thing. I met him in Bahrain. I didn’t meet him in America where it would be most likely [to meet him]. I’m in the music industry, I’m supposed to meet him here. Not randomly.
How Whoo Kid Met Michael Jackson & Learned Of His Duet With 50 Cent
DX: He was tight with the Sultan during that time, right?
DJ Whoo Kid: He had a deal. The Sheik paid for his lawyer fees to get out of America after the [2003 molestation charge] trial crap. The Sheik made him a citizen of Bahrain, so they couldn’t bring him back to court again. He did his thing and then he bounced out of there too. He had beef with the Sheik, and then I don’t know what he did, but they gave him a palace and he was just chilling. But then he got pissed off, moved to London, and that’s when he did that other deal with the 100 shows and all that. That’s when my relationship with him was supposed to start, because I was supposed to hang out with him at a few of the shows and my boy had a private jet. We we’re gonna go meet him. Everything was mapped out, and then fucking everything came out when he died. It was kind of fucked up. He had leaked that he was going to do a record for 50 [Cent], but at that time 50’s management fucked it up because they thought it was going to be like a song. I just wanted MJ to do a hook—like a hard hook for 50. Then we were going to set all that up like “The Jacksons.” I don’t know what we were going to call it. But they fucked it up.
They were excited that we were going to do it, but 50’s management was like, “This song is not coming out. We’re not going to do it.” Because at that time, 50 had his album coming out, and they didn’t want the molestation thing to be around it. And not to mention, Mike didn’t have no hits, so they thought maybe he would fuck 50 up with a wack song. But they didn’t know that it was a hook! It was supposed to be secretive, but how am I supposed to know that Michael Jackson’s people are going to put it out there? That’s why they called me like, “Whoo Kid what are you doing?” I’m like, “I called 50, 50 said it’s cool. I’m not here to call every manager and cover every aspect. I’d rather call you when it’s done, and we come to the decision of whether it comes out or not. But you don’t dead it.” They put a press release out that said Michael Jackson and 50 Cent are not doing a song.
Why Whoo Kid Orchestrated 50 Cent & Tupac’s “Realest Killaz”
DX: It seems like based on the way you make moves, things may come together faster than management or label people have time to make decisions...
DJ Whoo Kid: Usually the songs get done quicker. I hate going through middlemen and management because shit never gets done, and at the end of the day, fuck it. I get in trouble. I get a cease and desist order. When I did “Realest Niggaz,” the Biggie song, I got a cease and desist. I got in trouble, and 50 had to do songs for Biggie’s mom. That’s why there were so many G-Unit records with Biggie. But that was a historical song. I’d rather do stuff like that, that hits the population in the right way, because if we went through proper channels that shit would have never come out. And if I didn’t steal the song, it never would have happened. And then, just like I said with the fate bullshit again, it led me to link up with Snoop, and we did the “P.I.M.P.” remix and that became a video. Snoop beefing with Suge Knight, that’s how I got the “Realist Killaz” with Tupac. It just had to happen. I did that secretly and I got caught by—God bless the dead—Chris Lighty. Chris was like, “We already got the cease and desist for what you did with Biggie.” Biggie’s mother called Tupac’s mother, saying there’s a rumor that this Whoo Kid guy is doing a song with Tupac. But they didn’t know what I was doing. And that became a classic hit!
DX: That song was eventually on the Tupac: Resurrection Soundtrack…
DJ Whoo Kid: Yeah, it was. We did songs for Tupac’s mom too.
DX: Those songs were meant as reciprocation for that track?
DJ Whoo Kid: Yeah. At the end of the day, I always call 50 and ask, “Do you want to do this?” I’m not doing this just for me. I’m like, “Do you want to put this out?” He said, “Fuck it, let’s put it out.” I knew it was crazy when we were in Africa and in front of 30,000 motherfuckers and we did “Realist Killaz.” Tupac is Jesus Christ all over Africa; fuck everybody else. When I saw 30,000 hands going along to “Realist Killaz,” I was like, “Shit, we caused some trouble here.” I’d rather do stuff like that. But there aren’t any records like that no more. And I hate the recycled Tupac and Biggie songs...using the same verses. I just was the luckiest DJ in the world to find two verses that had never been out, and we did hit records with them. All those recycled songs are just stressing. If Biggie or Tupac were alive, they would do a song with 50, and that’s why it made sense for me to do those kind of songs.
Even when I got the song with Eazy-E, I called Game to do it because Game was Eazy-E’s boy. I only do things that make sense. I’m not going to put Trey Songz together with Eazy-E. I don’t think they would work with each other, depending on how I saw who they were. I just do stuff that makes sense.
DX: Are you ever surprised by the people who want to work with 50, like a Michael Jackson?
DJ Whoo Kid: I was super shocked, but that’s everybody’s idol. He was happy for 50’s career. I even made him call 50 when he was on set. 50 was in Morocco at that time shooting an army movie, so we were already on that side of the world. So I called 50 while he was on set and said, “Here is your brother, I’m talking to your brother right now.” I put them both on the line, they chopped it up, and that made it more crazy for him to really do the record, because they personally spoke with each other. And I made 50 finally talk to Michael Jackson, but it’s like… I hate it when the label or the management come and fuck shit up, because I think a lot of the hit records and incredible stuff happens on some indirect and no permission shit. The “FU (Fuck You)” record I did with Yo Gotti, he thought it was a throw-off. I was like, “What? This is a hit!” But that’s the power of being a DJ because you can tell what’s a hit with the environment and what’s out there. He has a full album that he’s about to put out, but this is an extra joint for a mixtape. He thought it was just any joint, but I’m like, “This is a big record!” This is a club anthem, but it can relate to everybody out there. Everybody know they got haters. Say, “Fuck you” to the haters, and put a middle finger up.” The words were so easy, and once I got Meek Mill on the remix, it was a super smash. People got to just respect us and let us do our thing. Don’t get in the way.
How DJ Whoo Kid Survived As The Mixtape Era Evolved
DX: How has your approach to putting together mix tapes changed from the bootleg era to now?
DJ Whoo Kid: Nowadays, it’s all free. But back then our name was popular, so people didn’t care. As long as we had new joints, people were just on some curiosity shit. They loved the unfinished records. They loved the adrenaline rush of, “he stole this, he stole that, this is not on the album.” That’s what the Queens DJs were known for. We were literally robbing the industry. But you can’t do that forever and have people trying to kill you all the time. I had to find an artist. I had to deal with somebody that could help me by doing their own mixtapes, and I wouldn’t have to worry about doing all of that shit no more. That’s why 50 Cent came in. The first times I dealt with him, I wasn’t in charge of picking songs or whatever. They just said, “This is the shit, this is hot, put it out.” But then 20, 30 mixtapes in, they started respecting my judgement. That’s where I started coming and learning from 50 where he would switch the songs and do his own music. Then everybody started copying, and everybody started rapping over beats [from other songs]. It got kind of ridiculous, but it still helped people with their marketing. So then we went to the next level of doing original music, and that’s when my A&R skills came in, getting beats and having people respect me choosing shit. And then me making other people successful also made people really trust my judgement. Even the order of songs—people would just send me the songs and I would say, “This should be first, or this should be last,” and I created a vibe off those mixtapes.
DX: When you saw 50 Cent go from really hot in the streets to working with Dre and Eminem to doing more pop collaborations with people like Justin Timberlake, did you talk with 50 about the direction he was going?
DJ Whoo Kid: When he became super successful, those Justin Timberlake songs and such came with his success. But I was the guy who in the beginning would search out all the hot people, and they would never say no because 50 was hot. He didn’t have time to figure out if Sean Paul should be on a song. We did a Sean Paul record...the Snoop thing. I taught Snoop the mixtape thing. He never understood why he had to do free songs and give it out. He was like, “What the fuck is this, cuz?” Then like 40 mixtapes later, Snoop is a mixtape addict. It was easy: I had a hot artist, and nobody said no. I called everybody, and that gave me an edge on getting incredible songs done, and it came to a point where 50 had like 10 to 12 songs on radio getting spins. He had his two singles the label was pushing, but he had all these other mixtape hits. There was no way Get Rich or Die Tryin’ was not selling 10 million albums because it was just 50 Cent all day on the radio.
DX: Ten-plus years after that huge breakthrough, it seems like you are the last person from the original G-Unit crew still standing with 50…
DJ Whoo Kid: Yeah, everybody’s beefing… [Laughs]. I figured it out when I was on stage at South by Southwest. I was like, “Oh, shit. It’s just me and Fif.” [Laughs] I just couldn’t believe it. I was in Europe, and I see Yayo arguing with Fif on Instagram, I’m like “What is going on?”
DX: Without getting too caught up in the gossip, I imagine this break-up was something that took a while, did you see it coming?
DJ Whoo Kid: I mean, whatever they were going through, I never thought it would be public. We’ve had arguments and issues before, and we handled it privately. But I never thought that it would go social media style. Why would [Tony] Yayo do that? I don’t know, and I think it was wack that he did that. But I can’t control these dudes anymore. Like c’mon, I’m 15 years in. I’m hanging with Tiesto, Steve Aoki and all those guys, and I’m trying to branch out into other shit. I can’t really come back and force four adults to get back together. I’m older than all these dudes. I could be their dad. But I’m not here to take care of grown man business. They’ll figure it out.They’ve figured it out before, because we’ve had really crazy arguments before—serious shit. It was supposed to be kept secret and kept internal and handled internally, and then it’s fixed internally. The business model has to be intact. You can’t just argue and fuck up the business.
DJ Whoo Kid Weighs In On The Disbanding Of G-Unit
DX: As someone who’s been down from the beginning, how do you feel when you see something like 50 releasing the conversation with Young Buck or when he says stuff like, “Some people have an expiration date.” Is that just 50 being 50?
DJ Whoo Kid: No, that’s not 50 being 50. These are like levels of them annoying 50 to where he’s like, “Fuck y’all.” Buck dissed 50 maybe like four or five times on stage. 50 should have been kinda went at him even the second time when he said, “Fuck G-Unit.” Buck has this thing where he has his neutrality—where Game is cool with him but he’s still hanging with 50. He’s the friend of everybody. But 50 is like, “Loyalty first...blah, blah, blah.” It’s OK to have your own choices and do what you want to do, but when he was high and drunk...we even understood when he was high and drunk the first two times. But then it started getting personal.
50 is right. A lot of them need help with taxes and stuff like that or money issues because they became spoiled. But at the end of the day, everybody made millions. That’s not 50’s responsibility, and he shouldn’t be giving a fuck. Everybody made millions, everybody got super rich and everybody did their thing. If you don’t know how to handle your shit, that’s your problem. But when it came to the third and fourth time, [and] Buck’s on stage cursing 50 out like really bad, that’s when 50’s like, “This is ridiculous.” That day when he was recording him, it’s not like 50 was recording him on purpose. Whenever he has a lawyer meeting—because the lawyer was on that meeting too, he put both of them together, and he’s recording the conversation for legal shit. They’re talking about future albums or whatever Buck had to do. And that’s when Buck kind of felt crazy because of what he did on stage. It just happened during the legal proceedings where the lawyer was recording, and he just cried at that time. So if you wanna fuck with 50, he’s just gonna put it out. He’s like, “Fuck it. This guy wants to make me look stupid publicly? Alright, here you go.” But even Buck admits that he fucked up. But with the Yayo thing, I was in shock because Yayo is kind of like the last man standing too. I was in Europe. I didn’t want to believe it. I thought it was bullshit, but…Even now, I haven’t even talked to Yayo yet about that shit. I’m really shocked, because Yayo was more close to 50 than everybody.
It’s problems that are too personal to talk about. It has nothing to do with business, and it’s really on some personal stuff where I don’t have time to be dealing with that shit. I have no problems with 50. Everybody knows I became my own man. I was always my own man when it came to the G-Unit stuff. It’s just that while they were robbing the bank, I was in the car. We’re successful. We’re all successful. If you wanna diss somebody, I’m in the car, and I didn’t know. But I’ve been getting this baggage over the years because 50 disses everybody, and then my relationships where I know these guys from before becomes either fucked up, or they are just weird relationships now because they’re saying, “Your man is killing me, but you’re cool with me.” I know the levels of the beef. It’s not like they are going to shoot each other, but it just makes me look weird sometimes. At the end of the day, I never gave a fuck because I had my loyalty to 50. Everything that happened to me is because of 50, so I’ll always put 50 first, and then they even understood that. They have to be secondary. What am I gonna do? If 50 kills you or disses you…yo, this is Hip Hop! Get your lyrics up! He’s a very competitive guy. Go in the studio and get back at him.
DX: We know that 50 is a very strategic and calculating person, but he also makes a point to be very authentic. How much of what we see is strategy versus sincerity when it comes to beef?
DJ Whoo Kid: Ninety percent of it is how he really feels. Even if you make up, it’s still not going to change his judgement on what he said. If he thinks your song was bullshit, that’s what he thinks. But it’s not going to change his relationship with whoever he’s talking to, because he’ll even let them know to their face. He is always going to be outspoken. He does not care. He’s always been like that. I’ve known him 15 years. That’s the difference between him and a lot of the rappers out there. All the top artists are not going to beef because it’s not good, number one, for their image or for their record sales. You are taking a big risk by going at somebody. A lot of them would rather kiss and make-up publicly so they can keep making money, and they’d rather hold hands. They lost that competitive edge from back in the days where there were historical battles like Jay Z versus Nas, KRS-One, Biggie and Tupac. Those days are kind of over, because this is not the Hip Hop that’s changing how I think or transforming me to who I am.
That spark that makes it Hip Hop is gone. You can’t even tell me what it is anymore because its mutated into Trap or House… It’s not even consolidated into a sub-culture. You could be out here and some Arab guy in a turban is gonna go crazy over Rick Ross right now, or Young Jeezy. You couldn’t even play Young Jeezy 10 years ago in Paris. But now it’s just like everywhere. You can’t hone in on something to make it something special anymore, because it’s just, “Bam-bam-bam! Make it, sell it, put it on iTunes and see how much it sells. Throw some fake beef in there and then make up.”
The Rick Ross and Jeezy beef… I thought that was crazy. And then they make up? I’m confused, because I’ve seen some serious situations with those guys. I don’t mind seeing people get back together and making up, but there’s no competitiveness with lyrical skill anymore. They’re too busy having crews shooting at each other. The Biggie and Tupac shit was so crazy that they went all the way with the lyrics. Crazy far. Incredible historical records. And we were watching and waiting, and then it got so bad that it went to shooting. But it’s not even the rappers no more, it’s their cliques that are fighting. You see Chris Brown and Drake fighting; it’s not them. It’s their crews. It becomes more hypocritical bullshit. It’s all about who you hang with is than who is beefing. That’s not Hip Hop no more. I couldn’t tell you what was hot last year, and I don’t know any lyrics. Jay Z is probably the only one that I can’t believe that he’s still killing it. And lyrically I’ll remember his shit.
DJ Whoo Kid Calls Kendrick Lamar “Last Of The Mohicans”
DX: Do you feel like the younger fans are really invested in current artists that are hot right now? Or is it more gravitating towards whichever of the many options they have interests them right now?
DJ Whoo Kid: Nah, it’s definitely flavor of the month. The last of the Mohicans would probably be Kendrick Lamar. The only reason he’s incredibly impactful is because his songs woke up people like me. I haven’t heard anything like that in years, because you keep getting the same thing. It could be a hot record, but it just generically goes in my body, I enjoy it and then it just goes away. But Kendrick Lamar, he’ll smack you a couple times like, “You are gonna hear what I’m saying. This is what’s going on, F U to everybody else out there.” I think he’s the only one that made me remember that era, and after that everybody else is cool.
Everybody’s lyrically killing it, I respect them, but they’re just trying to integrate with what’s going on out here. Everybody’s switched up. Even the top dudes are dressing like the young kids now. Everybody used to laugh at these kids, now everybody’s a hipster. Look at me, I got skinny jeans on. I never even thought that I would do that. They’re skinny for me, anyway. When I DJ clubs in New York, I’m not playing New York stuff. It’s just Southern or bottle-popping stuff. The classics are still winning, and I still play a couple classics. But the South is basically all I play. And now the L.A. drama is taking over too, with YG, Problem and all that L.A. influence. They are all into that DJ Mustard rhythm where the girls love it, and they can kick hard shit...stripper shit. DJ Mustard gave L.A. life in New York and everywhere else because nobody would ever play West Coast stuff. It was either too hard or we’re just not used to that lifestyle. But that Bay Area-style type beat that Mustard does and everybody else does gave them life here. But I’m not rushing home thinking this is what I’m going to be doing because of them. Run-DMC tells me Lee’s is hot, so I went and got Lee’s. I went and got adidas. I went to school with an attitude because I thought I was Run-DMC. I wanted to be Big Daddy Kane, even when he had his jewelry. I didn’t care about the ropes and all that, but the fact that he looked iconic and on some king shit, like he was in a ring and kicking lyrics. Rakim was hard. “I came in the door, I said it before.” Shit like that is in my fucking head. But now? I don’t give a fuck about none of that shit. That shit is good for making money. I’m a DJ, and I just treat it like a business. That’s how everybody else is treating it. You got the ads, the sponsors, sneaker deals, that’s all it’s about now.
DX: There was a period when a lot of the major mixtape DJs, people like Clue or Kay Slay, were putting out their own albums. How come you never went that route?
DJ Whoo Kid: I never did it because I had tons of free music out there. People were approaching me about it, but politically, when 50 is dissing everybody, I can’t be like, “Yo, let’s do these records,” because this guy is killing all of y’all. So I didn’t want to deal with all the politics. I’d rather just deal with the relationships I had, and I kept putting out free music. I’m not transitioning to EDM or nothing like that, but I just want to find a spot there where I can just be comfortable because all the EDM DJs love me. So I just want to be the friend of the EDM world. I don’t want to be the Hip Hop guy trying to be EDM. And I found my techniques have been working lately. Radio, traveling, touring, I’ve just found a way to be accepted. Especially at my age, there’s no way you can be over 40 and people bugging out when they see you.
I treat the Hip Hop thing like a job. In my head, I have rules, and I put everything in place. It’s like a little puzzle, I put everything in place, and then I leave. As long as everything is in place, it just gets done quick. It’s not incredible or my passion, ‘cause I did it 20 years. When people see me and give me their demos, I’m like, “Ugh.” But I’m not like that because I don’t want the demo, it’s just I’d rather your music come to me indirectly. Everybody that’s popular that I work with is popular because their music hit me without me asking for it. I’d rather that happen where it’s organic.
If they succeed, then I succeed. In every story or every interview, they’ll mention Whoo Kid. You heard it on Game’s first album, or with Kendrick Lamar or Big Sean. Everybody out there has some kind of Whoo Kid story or mixtape, or it doesn’t even have to be music, it could be just an interaction. Kanye West flipped his car over. I told him he was wack, he got mad and flipped his car. You think he would have that tape with his face fucked up and he would have had the wire and all that? What if it he drove off regular and didn’t flip his shit.
How Kanye West & Whoo Kid Crossed Paths Prior To “Through The Wire”
DX: That happened after a conversation with you?
DJ Whoo Kid: Yeah. Then we found the video and put the video online. In the video, he’s telling everything he’s going to do 10 years later, and he’s doing everything he said 10 years later now. Remember how he said he’s going to be fucking with Jay, how everybody is going to be on his dick because of his clothing? He said that 10 years ago, and I filmed the whole shit. All because I told him, “Yo, I don’t like the way you’re rapping right now,” because he was desperate.
I’m in the studio with Ludacris, and he’s like, “Who the hell is this guy in the booth?” I said, “He’s the guy who’s giving me beats,” and I didn’t even know him that well. I went in the booth where Kanye was rapping, and I just yelled, “Give some beats to this nigga. He’s about to go to the fucking airport...hurry up!” And he got mad when he went out there, and Luda picked another beat and not his, that’s why I filmed him. All those interactions… That’s why I believe in fate. It’s not like you can plan all this shit.
Even “God’s Plan” and all the mixtapes we did...all those things are about shit happening. 50 rhymes for like 15 million years. He gets shot the fuck up, and now there’s a story. People love people who come back. If somebody shot me a million times, I’m not coming back. I’m gonna get a job. I’m gonna be a garbage man, pick up trash for a living and make 100 Gs a year. I don’t give a fuck. Fuck Hip Hop. But he said, “Fuck y’all.” He still came back and still did diss records. He wore bulletproof vests, had guns and had 30 dudes with him. I had a vest. I’m a DJ. What the fuck I have a helmet and vest for?
But people love stories like that, and I learned by watching his life and everything happening to me. All that shit connects. Even with Jay Pharaoh coming out of nowhere like how he just did the Harvard shit with me. I didn’t know he was here, but stuff like that is a cool thing, and now it may lead to something else. He didn’t know that he was in the courses here. Some teacher had him as part of the comedic connection with whatever. We had the teacher’s photo, and he was like, “What? They talk about me at Harvard?” But he would have never known that if he didn’t come. He would have just come up, did his show and gone back to New York. But he came here and found out he was in a course. I’d rather let life choose what is gonna happen. All this shit is not planned. Who knows, maybe next week I’m fucking Halle Berry? That’s what I want. If that happened, that would be the best thing in my life.