Jasmine Solano: Inside the DJ Booth
Jasmine Solano has more than a couple tricks up her sleeve. It’s a quality that has come in handy during her ascension to hip-hop’s in-crowd. The Philadelphia native started off with poetry and spoken word in high school, which naturally led her to dabbling in the art of rap. She always loved mixing and scratching, but after touching a set of Technics turntables at age 18, she was all in.
“I was obsessed with turntablism as a teenager,” Solano tells The BoomBox. “You could have called me a backpacker, easily. I used to watch DJ Qbert videos, Mix Master Mike clips and DMC Championship battles. It all made sense to me. I was attracted to it all.”
One could say that Solano’s rap career played off of her DJ career or vice versa, but above all, her love for the culture itself is the driving force behind all of her talents. During her college years, Solano hosted her own radio show called The Secret Spot on Boston’s WERS 88.9 FM. She ended up winning an Urban Music Award for Best Female Radio Personality as a result. By 2006, when she moved to New York City, she found her groove in a few different arenas. Solano worked in video production, business management — while running a small company and label — and maintained a DJ career at night.
Although she defines herself as equal parts rapper and DJ, there were some periods where one talent overtook the other, like when her 2010 single “That’s Not It” made waves all the way to MTVU’s rotation or when her skillful deejaying had her opening up for the Rock the Bells concert and touring with Wiz Khalifa that same year.
Solano takes her craft seriously, however, sometimes she deals with club security who don’t. “The funniest experience is when I walk into the club and the security treats me like an every day club-goer…” she continues. “Until I walk out and they pull me aside to give me a speech about how talented they think I am and how they hope I come back.”
With so many other parts to her career, Solano is still well-versed in what it takes to rock a party. “The key to being a good DJ is knowing the crowd,” she says simply. “When you DJ in other states or in other countries, you gotta connect with the people, learn about the scene, get familiar with the local music superstars. You have to represent your personal expression while relating to the community. And I believe that to be a talent more so than a skill.”
This record spinner has traveled the globe showcasing her talents and conquered the club so what’s next for her rap career? “I just dropped my first single off my upcoming EP, Rap, this January. The song is called ‘One on One’ and it features Yelawolf,” Solano says proudly. “So aside from my DJ life, I also have my rapping life. My life is immersed in music everyday.”
Top Five Songs of the Moment
1. “Dickie Riddim,” Schlachthofbronx feat. Warrior Queen
2. “Only Man She Want,” Popcaan
3. “Sandungueo,” Munchi
4. “Ritual Union,” Little Dragon
5. “Wreck a Pum Pum,” Prince Buster
Top Five Songs to Rock a Party
1. “Poison,” Bell Biv DeVoe (Million $ Mano Remix)
2. “I Just Wanna Love You,” Jay-Z
3. “Erotic City,” Prince
4. “Show Me Love,” Robin S.
5. “Who Am I,” Beenie Man