DJ Black Bill Gates: Inside the DJ Booth
DJ Black Bill Gates was content with deciphering computer codes for Fortune 500 companies up until a few years ago. Before he began spinning records, the East Atlanta native was prepared to dedicate his life to the IT world after college.
“I came home [to Atlanta] and I worked for Coca-Cola, Norfolk Southern and the International Hotel Group,” he tells The BoomBox. “I wasn’t gonna leave what I was doing until I was convinced that deejaying would support me, my family and everything I had going on.”
Maybach Music Group’s DJ Scream was the catalyst in getting Gates to make the switch. Scream was in the midst of creating his own company, HoodRich Entertainment, and hoped that he and his partner Marcus “RIP” Rippy could convince Black to become a part of the fledgling brand back in 2005. Since then, Black Bill Gates has become one of Atlanta’s most recognizable figures behind the turntables. While he’s still pretty good with a laptop, Black is far beyond where he thought he’d be when he started deejaying in college.
The concept of becoming a DJ was an abstract one when Gates was a teenager. He watched his uncle spin for years and music was always a major part of life as he grew up. He didn’t touch the tables himself until 1999, when he enrolled at Georgia Southern University, taking on a position at the school’s radio station.
“Really, the free format of college radio was new to me coming from Atlanta where the radio is pretty much the same programmed 20, 25 songs all day long,” he explains. “When I heard college radio, I felt like that was what radio was supposed to really be.”
As idealistic as the notion may sound, it’s one that Gates has carried with him up until this point in his career. The HoodRich member is all about diversifying his efforts while maintaining integrity in hip-hop.
Gates is endlessly considering the next aspiration to conquer — he’s been that way long before his DJ career. While he was at Georgia Southern, he excelled within the school’s baseball team until he broke his leg and was forced take a break for six months. It was during this period that he learned the technique behind spinning records from a close friend and he began to implement his skills on-air.
Years after graduation, he found himself going back to deejaying and experiencing some interesting nights while on the road. “I was 2 Chainz’s DJ for awhile when he started out with [DTP's] Playaz Circle,” Gates reveals, “We were in Pittsburgh one night and I’m deejaying when the whole fucking stage collapses. And 2 Chainz and Dolla [Boy] were the only ones left! They were still up there performing. That one experience was the best and the worst thing that’s ever happened to me on the road.”
His interests grew to include much more than rocking parties, breaking new artists and hosting mixtapes. He’s still a major part of Scream’s HoodRich collective, but he’s also a member of the Coalition DJs circle, a brand that’s become increasingly respected across the southern region.
The DJ is known to be more reserved than many of his counterparts in the city but he does cite some of his proudest moments as being televised. “Spinning onstage with [Lil] Wayne, Luda and 2 Chainz at the first BET Hip Hop Awards — that was a pretty big moment. Whether it be that or [BET's] ‘Rap City.’ Actually, anytime I’ve been on TV was the best time for me,” he admits, chuckling.
“Also, spinning on [Atlanta's] V103 for the first time. I don’t get excited about much — anybody’ll tell you that — but those are the three things I can remember being the most happy about.”
In addition to his work as a DJ, Gates has recently taken on a contributing position with the hip-hop-foodie site ATLBiteLife.com. He’s also been working on his management skills in helping push the careers of local up and comers such as Ra Ra, Scotty, Thomas Gilyard and Redcoat Da Poet. Gates has clocked hours with Nick Love — the manager of the Coalition DJs — assisting in the development of Atlanta’s next wave of young rappers and he claims to have found his niche, even creating his own branding company, Exit 65.
When asked about his future goals, Black Bill Gates answers simply. “If you asked me that a year or two ago, I would’ve said, ‘Spinning on the air and being an on-air personality,’” he continues. “But I’ve really fallen in love with working with these artists that are masters of their craft.
“They’re not out here fucking around or playing, chasing a single or trying get on the radio and blow up real quick. I was trying to do that earlier in my career but now working with Ra Ra, Mighty Network and a lot of the other artists that me and Nick touched, they’re doing some real music that I can believe in. They’re not just talking about the same bullshit everybody else is talking about, so I don’t know. It makes me feel a little bit better about doing my job.”
Although Black Bill Gates is still very much a large part of Atlanta’s DJ community — with more than a few mixtape releases lined up — he’s intrigued by the idea of moving closer towards management as his next official career goal.
“I like the management aspect of it,” he says with conviction. “I really do. I think I’m made for it. I think I’ll be doing that for the remainder of my career. More so than the deejaying. Yeah. You’ll see a switch from that.”
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