Baltimore-native DJ Class may be new to the charts -- his latest single, "I'm the Ish," featuring Lil' Jon, sits at No. 32 on the Rhythmic Top 40 chart this week -- but he's anything but a rookie when it comes to music.
Class, born Daniel Woodis, has been conquering the Baltimore club scene since the mid-90s when he first signed to Unruly Records, an independent label based out of his native city. Now the DJ/producer, 37, is ready to take his regional sound worldwide with the release of his self-produced debut album, "Alameda & ColdSpring," slated for a fall release via Unruly/Classheat/Universal Republic.
"Other DJs do a star studded album full of people, but I am really the artist on my set -- I get down and I write, rap, and lightweight sing," says Class. "We took the loud hip-hop drums and did it at the speed of house music. We used LL Cool J drums, Run DMC drums and looped them -- made them sound like house but much harder. I do what I have to do. It's not a mix tape -- it's a real album."
Other tracks on the album include auto-tune friendly, club bangers like "Dance Like A Freak," "Get Up" and the raunchy "Like A Video."
When considering the song titles on "Alameda & ColdSprings," it's hard to believe that Class was once a reserved kid. In fact, he credits his shy demeanor for his artistic name -- his friends used to say he was a school nerd, which led to his stage name.
It was during his years as a well-mannered student that Class recalls first discovering hip-hop, and then eventually tapping into Baltimore club music. "It was just so infectious, but it's so bright and in your face that it makes you want to dance," he says.
Although growing up in a blue collar household prevented him from paying for studio sessions as often as he liked, Class' passion for making beats prompted him to teach himself how to spin on the 1s and 2s and use beat machines. He ultimately released his debut "Class is in Session," via a short-lived deal with Sub Base records when he was just 17-years-old.
At 19, Class signed with Unruly Productions, and almost two decades later, just three months after "I'm The Ish" got its first radio spin, he signed a distribution deal with Universal Republic via Unruly. "I'm The Ish," including an official remix with Kanye West, are now available on iTunes.
Now, Class is ready for all the fame and glory that comes with his newfound yet long-awaited mainstream music career. "I hope I see myself in the next three years winning 30 Grammys and making a billion dollars," he says. "I want to become and remain the face of my genre. I want people to think of me when they think of high energy music. I want to give back to those in the industry and to the lives of those I can be a big help in."