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DJ Infamous: Inside the DJ Booth

Hannibal Matthews

DJ Infamous didn’t even come up with a name for himself until he was setting up for his very first set. The Lansing, Mich., native was more excited to spin at a hired gig.

“I was supposed to change that name,” he tells The BoomBox. “I went with Infamous because at the time I had a lot of Mobb Deep records and I had my first booking with no name, just my government name. My homeboy looked at the records and said, “Go with ‘Infamous, ’cause you ain’t going with ‘Mobb’ or ‘Deep,’ and we’ll change it later.”

Back then, the 12-year-old Infamous was so shy that all he would do on the mic that night was shout his new alias. When he got to school the following Monday, his classmates greeted him with shouts of “Yo, Infamous. You killed it,” making his temporary name, an official one.

Infamous made $30 that night and fell in love with the idea of deejaying as a career. He committed to dominating the scene in Lansing, and other locations he ended up in during the coming years. He realized that the DJ circle in Michigan was a small one and he was determined to do everything he could to stand out.

“Mentally I was like, ‘If I’ma be deejaying then I have to be the youngest and the baddest and I have to deejay everything,” he recalls. “Every prom, every dance, every pep rally, house party.”

By the end of his sophomore year of high school, he’d accomplished that goal. The next year, the local radio station took note of his grind and gave him a Saturday mix spot from 10PM to midnight. A then-16-year-old Infamous already had his first job on the radio and the opportunities started rolling in. As he left school one day, he was approached by a party promoter who was looking for talent to spin at a new teen club in Lansing.

“The club was this abandoned building downtown,” he adds with a smile. “They rented lights, sound and equipment. Then they used glow-in-the-dark spray paint to decorate it. It was mad ghetto and hood. But to have a teen club in my city was a big thing because there weren’t any and I helped start that.”

Two years later, he was enrolled at Alabama A&M University, where he continued spinning at every party and event. In the summer before his senior year, he interned for Atlanta radio station V103. “I’d pretty much done all I could do in Huntsville where my college was,” he admits. “I just told myself I needed more of a challenge.”

After graduation, Infamous moved to Atlanta for good, but he held on to his shift at the local station in Huntsville. He took the three hour drive between the two cities every week determined to be busier than his peers. After about a year of pushing, doing demos and mixing for free, Infamous was finally hired at V103.

For many DJs, radio would be where the story ends but not for Infamous. “I’ve had a relationship with [Ludacris] since 2004,” he reveals. “When I interned at V103, I interned at Disturbing Tha Peace at the same time. They took me to New York and I was on ‘Rap City’ with Luda. They kinda always got at me for certain things.”

Last September, the Atlanta rapper brought Infamous on as his official DJ. He says that the energy with Ludacris is better than he’s experienced with any other artist. In less than a year, Infamous has had his passport stamped in places like Singapore, Korea, India, China and Germany.

His life today is a far cry from what it was a few years ago when an unprecedented storm hit Atlanta in 2009, flooding half of the city and leaving it paralyzed for weeks. Infamous lost everything.

“I’d just gotten my house, had my son the week before and I still had to go DJ and give the people what they needed,” he says. “I couldn’t stop. I had my son and my daughter who was born the previous year. I had to take care of my family.”

Thankfully, he got to see just how tight his circle was. Ludacris and DTP rented out a room for Infamous at Atlanta’s Four Seasons. He received care packages from brands like Adidas and Jordan. Artists including Rick Ross, Jim Jones and Fabolous also helped provide support and Infamous paid it forward, donating money and goods to other families affected by the storm.

Nowadays, Infamous is moving full speed ahead. The anticipation of rocking parties has only heightened since age 12. He just loves playing music but the ladies love to watch him do it — maybe a little too much.

“All day these chicks! They come to the booth to request a song,” he says. “Then it’s the birthday shoutout and then they try and holler at me. I’m not saying it’s every chick but the majority, like, I get it a lot.”

Today Infamous travels the world, hosting the hottest parties in Atlanta and making a name for himself as a radio personality. He’s also readying his first album for the hip-hop masses. The first single, “Itchin’,” featuring Future, has taken Atlanta radio by storm. It shouldn’t be long before the world discovers that Infamous has an innate sense of what works — a skill he shares with his longtime friend DJ Khaled, leading to his heavy affiliation with the We The Best crew.

As he prepares his LP, he’s taken on a few more projects, including an endorsement deal with skate brand Neff. He’s also Atlanta’s most recent addition to the Ciroc Boy team, making him the third DJ in the city under the liquor campaign. Although his alias wasn’t his first choice, it’s befitting, as he paves the way to becoming infamous indeed.

Top Five Songs of the Moment
1. “Itchin’,” DJ Infamous feat. Future
2. “Bands a Make Her Dance,” Juicy J feat. Lil Wayne
3. “Jingalin’,” Ludacris
4. “Turn On the Lights,” Future
5. “No Lie,” 2 Chainz feat. Drake

Top Five Songs to Rock a Party
1. “Itchin’,” DJ Infamous feat. Future
2. “Get Money,” Junior Mafia
3. “Down For My Hittaz,” C-Murder feat. Snoop Dogg & Magic
4. “All I Do Is Win,” DJ Khaled feat. Lil Wayne
5. “Move Bitch,” Ludacris feat. Mystikal and I-20


See Hip-Hop’s Most Expensive Album Covers Valued by a Jeweler

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