KillerHipHop Exclusive: Dj Skee Interview
Scott Keeney is much more than a disc jokey, like his name implies. Dj Skee is an entrepreneur, founder of Skee Music, Skee.TV, and now Skee Sports. He hosts the #1 radio show in the country on KIIS FM Los Angeles, and has been one of the most influential mixtape DJ’s in Hip-Hop. In addition, he’s a marketing wiz that has worked with Fortune 500 companies such as T-Mobile, and Daimler-Chrysler. Billboard wasn’t lying when they said Dj Skee was one of the 30 most influential figures in music. Did I say Skee.TV has more than 250 million views on YouTube? So saying that I appreciate him taking time out of his busy schedule to speak to KillerHipHop is an understatement, by a couple of marathons, hah. His hussle is evident okay.
So during our interview we spoke about everything from Jeremy Lin, and his partnership with Nipsey Hussle, to Maybach Music, Steve Rifkind, and independent labels. Full interview after the jump.
QuezKHH: Let’s start off by talking about sports, and then work our way into Skee Sports. You were born in New York; I read that you also spent your summers there. So what do you think about this Jeremy Lin kid?
Dj Skee: Dude Jeremy Lin is killin’ it. I know he’s gettin’ a lot of stuff. People are saying, oh it’s because of his race, and stuff, but that dude is straight ballin’. [He’s] such a good story, especially in the NBA. In the NBA it’s so tough to make it into the league because there’s so little roster spots compared to other things. There’s so many people who play basketball, [and only] 45-30 people make it into the league every year. For somebody unknown to come out and ball like he has is just incredible. It’s just a great story for everybody watching.
KHH: Which is your favorite NBA team?
Skee: Timberwolves. Minnesota Timberwolves.
KHH: Skee Sports is fairly new compared to your other companies. What’s Skee Sports all about for those who don’t know?
Skee: [We’re] creating a platform for athletes off the court and off the field. We’re not interested in competing with ESPN in terms of sports news just because that doesn’t make any sense. We’re never going to beat them in that. But we feel that there’s a void. You know we’re kind of doing what we do with music artists, [and] showcase what they do outside of their main skill. I think there’s a lot of branding that’s being missed by a lot of these athletes, and people want to see their lives. So we’re trying to bridge that gap between their lives off the field, and off the court to where it’s in the mainstream.
KHH: Now let’s talk about your other company, Skee Music. You recently partnered up with Nipsey Hussle, and will manage him and look over his brands. What else can we expect from the partnership?
Skee: With Nip’ it’s just a great situation. We’ve always worked together on the music side, and the opportunity presented itself for us to get down in a bigger scale on the business side. It’s just been great man. Nipsey is an incredible artist. I truly believe in not just his music which is amazing, but his overall vision, and his whole brand. Having the resources that we have from all the platforms we have like, Skee.TV, and multiple brand relationships, as well as just our thoughts on what the music industry is today, I think we’re really going to be able to make history, and do some stuff that [are] going to shock the market. I really look at him having a huge, long, long, long, long, long, long, career. So we’re very excited about what we can do.
KHH: Now rumor is that Nipsey will sign to Rick Ross’ Maybach Music Group. You have even tweeted a picture of him in the studio with Ross which just adds to the rumor. Can you inform us on the current situation?
Skee: Shout out to Rick Ross. I mean Nipsey right now is all his money, it’s “All Money In”. We have our partnership with Skee.TV. There’s definitely a lot of talk. There’s people exploring stuff. But there’s nothing officially [written] out. I can say that Nip’ and Ross are homies. We’ve sat down and chopped it up with Ross a few times. I voted for [Ross] as the #1 MC of mine when I was on the MTV Hottest MC list, when they [gave] me my questionnaire. So there’s no question the dude is killing it. I definitely look forward to working with him in whatever [fashion] that is. So stay tuned, but there’s nothing signed, sealed, and delivered right now. But, you never know what could happen.
KHH: But is Nipsey even looking to sign anywhere? Like not even Maybach Music. Or is he just trying to build his own brand? What are you guys thinking right now?
Skee: I mean with Nipsey its always been his own brand. He just said he was getting off the label. But, whatever comes along, and makes sense for him he’ll definitely do that. I mean he’s not going to [rule] anything out. There’s a lot of talk about the Maybach Music, and all that stuff, and there’s definitely interesting opportunities out there. At the end of the day it’s really up to Nip’. He wants to see where his career is going to go. I know he’s really proud of what he’s built with his brand. There was times were he had gotten off the label, and was on his own with his crew, and [it was] providing for them. So anything he can do to enhance that. Now or later whatever that is he’ll definitely do that. But, he definitely has the platform to accomplish that on his own.
KHH: As far as his brand and image go, you guys have talked about keeping his features selective. Why is that important?
Skee: I mean it’s all about flooding the market with quality and not quantity necessarily. I think we can have a lot of quantity coming out. But it’s tough; a lot of times you hear so much stuff that you can get overwhelmed by artists, and they’ll start to devalue. With branding you have to be very careful with the [people] you work with. Everything that you hear him on pretty much is going to be stuff that he really believes in. It’s not necessarily about getting checks. It really has to be product[ive]. You don’t hear Jay-Z on everything, you don’t hear a lot of these top caliber artists [on everything]. I think he kind of studied them. So for him, he’s really trying to work with people he really believes in.
KHH: What’s the difference in the approach, when you’re marketing someone like Nipsey Hussle, and marketing a Fortune 500 company like Chrysler?
Skee: It’s the same thing. It’s connecting brands with music in a way that makes sense. But what we want to showcase to these brands is what Nipsey is about, what his audience is, how they believe in him for authenticity, and things like that. See if there’s any opportunities that really align brands with artists. There’s certain things that people would see through, and would never work. We’re going to avoid those types of situations. But he has an incredible fanbase; his social network numbers are incredible. His mixtapes are reaching all corners of the world. He’s getting great money for every show. This is off a mixtape, without him even going hard on the marketing. He has such a cool loyal fanbase. He has very intelligent fans, that really respect, and love everything that he does. I think there are some great opportunities for brands to get involved, and enhance what needs to be stated.
KHH: What’s the most important thing you learned from Steve Rifkind while at SRC Marketing?
Skee: Oh man, Steve taught me so much stuff. Just being able to hang around him, and be a fly on the wall on a lot of those meetings. He was the first dude to take me on private jets, and bring me to the nice headquarters, and meet some of the heads of marketing for some of these companies, and really seeing how it works on the real world level. Getting that experience from the guy that invented street teams, and owned one of the most powerful street hip hop labels in the history of music with Loud Records in its run in the 90’s. I mean it was just an incredible experience. There’ so many things I couldn’t summarize it in 1 word.
KHH: Is Rifkind’s street team concept still as important today as it was back in the 90’s, or has the internet taken over that?
Skee: Absolutely, I think a lot of people depend too much on the internet sometimes. I mean the internet is obviously huge. You can literally record something and throw it up overnight, and get it out across everywhere else. But I think people are starting to do [the street team again]. On the internet there’s so much things going out there, that things are going back to the street things that really connect people on a 1-on-1 level, in person, like music. That’s how Nipsey is making his money. All off of touring, and connecting with people 1-on-1. I think there’s a huge market void there. Especially for people who just focus on the internet. Trust me, we’ve built our company based off of that too, but at the same time we’re definitely focusing a lot on the streets. There’s a lot of things going on that people are missing, because they’re so focused on one thing. I think they’re all key pieces to the puzzle.
KHH: Why do you think that independent labels are so successful right now?
Skee: Because they don’t have the same overhead that major labels have. Look, major labels were at a point were they could throw their discs out; they raised the price to 18 bucks. Money was coming in, but a lot of it wasn’t necessarily being split the right way. A lot of them are just so big. A lot of the figure heads that are their, and the ones that are there running these projects don’t get that. They don’t understand the internet. At the end of the day the music business is a digital business now. You still have a lot of people there that have had their jobs for forever, and don’t understand what this new generation is. Believe me, that’s why they’re starting to fail. It’s pretty much done for a lot of those majors in my eyes. The reason independent labels are successful is because they’re small and agile. They really know their audience. They know how to connect, and they’re doing something right. So I think independent labels are much more agile, and much more in sync with their audience.
KHH: You also have an impressive resume as far as interviews go. Who’s been your favorite person to interview?
Skee: Oh, it was dope interviewing Jennifer Lopez on my birthday. She wished me happy birthday. I’ll never forget that.
KHH: What’s your proudest moment in the music industry?
Skee: Hmm proudest moment. I don’t think its happened yet.
KHH: Let’s end the interview with you naming your most underrated rapper, in your opinion, and why people should listen to him?
Skee: I mean there’s so many underrated rappers. Hmm there’s so many. I mean I’d have to say Nipsey is an underrated rapper. He makes incredible music. But in terms of rappers that people don’t know about there’s this artist [that was on Live From L.A.], S-Mak. He just killed it. I saw his music, he came out and freestyled. I’ll be putting up more videos with him. I’d say he’s underrated because a lot of people don’t know about him yet. There’s definitely going to be crazy stuff with him.