DJ Quicksilva: Inside the DJ Booth
Baltimore hip-hop is finally presenting on a national level and a lot of the credit goes to DJ Quicksilva, who hails from the rough east side of the city. Born Rico Silva, his career climb could be adapted to film, fitting, since it was a 1980s movie that inspired him to start spinning in the first place.
"I was watching 'Beat Street' and there was a DJ in the movie," he tells The BoomBox. "I was only 10 years old at the time and I didn't really know what a DJ was at the time, but I remember thinking the guy that was playing the records was the coolest guy in the movie. I remember telling my dad that I wanted to be that guy."
Later that year, young Quicksilva only requested two items for Christmas: a set of turntables and a mixer. His father obliged and he hasn't stopped deejaying since that day, which was more than 20 years ago.
Back in high school, Quicksilva was already deep in fulfilling his career aspirations -- he'd been making mixtapes and deejaying house parties since he was 11 years old. By the time he was 18, he'd started on Baltimore radio station V-103, then moved on to 92Q and X105.7. When 105.7 went off air in 2002, Quicksilva begun touring with hometown radio personality and songstress Lil' Mo.
He found himself in all the right circles, being introduced to the most influential people in his city and beyond. Touring for two years landed him a spot with Pepsi's DJ division, spinning at company-sponsored concerts nationwide.
When he finally returned home in 2004, D.C.'s WPGC 95.5 was looking to employ a new DJ and through Silva's past radio connects he secured a spot on the station. After four years, he received an offer to run an evening slot on WKYS 93.9.
"I've been in radio for 14 years," he shares. "When you've been doing anything for over 10 years, I guess people think that you're like, 40, 50 years old, but when I first started I was a teenager."
If Quicksilva ever has a free day, he indulges in watching reruns of "Good Times," preferably with his wife and their 4-year-old son. He says they try to spend as much time together as possible.
"We love to travel," he reveals. "Every now and then, I'll take a week off or a couple days off and we'll go somewhere -- to a beach or something -- so we can relax and just clear our minds and enjoy each other."
Still moments are rare though, as Silva has countless obligations. When he's not out of town, spinning at events like Miami's Radio One Fest, Silva still deejays every night at clubs in either D.C. or Baltimore. He starts his weekdays off deejaying for the nationally syndicated "The Russ Parr Morning Show." In the evenings, Quicksilva has his own slot on WKYS 93.9.
Two days out of every other week, he travels to New York City to tape BET's "106 & Park." He's also an occasional tour DJ for Wale, a brand ambassador for Ciroc vodka and the national DJ for the lifestyle store DTLR.
"My motto I always go by is hard work, dedication and consistency," Quicksilva states. "Being from East Baltimore -- not the 'rap hood' or the 'TV hood' -- it's the real hood, coming up the way I came up made me realize that I have to outwork everybody."
Silva's even found a way to incorporate family into his work schedule with the Silva Lining Foundation -- a passion project that he runs with his wife.
"My mom passed when I was 10 and my dad passed when I was 18, so I started this foundation for young people who've lost parents," he reveals. "My wife's mission statement is to help the youth in underprivileged neighborhoods in inner city neighborhoods. We just combined forces."
Quicksilva is a celebrity in his own right but counts an acknowledgement from Jay-Z as being one of his best moments while working.
"When I was deejaying for Lil' Mo on the Roc the Mic tour, we were at an afterparty," he recalls. "And Jay-Z came in the booth and spoke to me like, 'What up Quick?' I bugged out, like, I can't believe Jay-Z knows who I am. One thing I always tell everybody is that it's not who you know, it's who knows you that gets you further in the world. I had to play it cool of course, but afterwards? Man, I was a little kid."
He often reiterates that the Quicksilva spinning at the club, peppering his mixes with boasts, that's not Rico Silva.
"I still look at myself as that kid from East Baltimore," he says. "When people say certain things to me, I can't grasp it yet. I'm not famous. So when I go to the store and people say, 'Oh, that's Quicksilva, I just saw you on TV,' It freaks me out because I don't look at myself as being bigger than anybody else. My lifestyle has changed but my mindset hasn't changed."