Jam Master Jay's Son TJ Mizell Talks 'Growing Up Hip Hop' Season 2 & Being A$AP Ferg's DJ
WeTV's Growing Up Hip Hop was a smash hit for the AMC-owned network. The show -- which depicts the lives of hip-hop heavyweight offspring including Angela Simmons (daughter of Run-D.M.C.'s Rev Run), Romeo Miller (Master P's son), Egypt Criss (daughter of Pepa from Salt-N-Pepa and Treach of Naughty by Nature), Damon "Boogie" Dash (Dame Dash's son) and Kristinia DeBarge (R&B singer James Debarge's daughter) -- delves into the hustle and drama that comes along with inheriting musical empires, and attempting to live up to the family name.
Season 2, debuting on Ocr. 13, brings about new revelations, and new cast members like André King (Swizz Beats brother and Angela Simmon’s friend) and Briana Latrise (the stepdaughter of Mary J. Blige, who recently filed for divorce from her husband and manager Kendu Issacs). Throw in a new engagement, helicopter parenting, and other surprises and the drama proves that even famous folks have problems just like us.
Below, Billboard recently spoke with one of the show's stars, TJ Mizell -- DJ and son of the late Jam Master Jay of Run D.M.C. -- about his current project, and what viewers can expect from this season.
What made you return for season 2?
To be honest with you, I was very skeptical of being a part of it the first season. I really only did it because Angela was the home girl, and I know she wouldn’t do anything super crazy. The first season went well, and way better than I actually expected it to go. We had different producers on the second season and I felt like this season would be a little more fun. I wasn’t around too much for the whole season, so it was fun catching up.
For this season, what side of you are people going to see that they didn’t see the first time around?
They definitely get a little more of my personal side. On the first season, I was blocked and had walls up. I wasn’t really letting people in too much. I was also really busy the first season as well. Second season, I feel like we focused more on giving people more of what’s going on inside of my head, and what I’ve gone through, and how it’s built me as a person as well. It kind of gets a little more in-depth on my personal life. I feel like people will relate to it and enjoy.
In the first season, there seemed to be a lot of back-and-forth in the relationship department. This season, are you getting more in the mix in terms of dating?
None of that. That’s my personal life and that’s something I’m going to always respect. There’s a great deal of respect for that situation. All of that stuff -- unfortunately and fortunately -- on my end, the world won’t be getting a part of that.
Are you single?
At the moment, I’m actually not.
You’re A$AP Ferg’s DJ. How did you guys link up?
We linked up around four years ago. It was around the time A$AP Mob was popping. I was on the come up in the DJ scene in New York so I would always be at the same parties they were. We ended up just being around each other all the time. I ended up doing a visual content piece where I used one of their songs to remix. They saw that, caught on to it and we built a closer relationship. At a Drake show on his Nothing Was the Same tour in Brooklyn, I ended up talking to Ferg backstage, and he asked me to be his DJ then. It was history from there.
What was it like going on tour? Also, are you going to parlay DJing into other ventures?
First of all, the experience is wild. We do these tours and play for tens of thousands people a show. That experience alone is well worth it. On top of that, I get to work with one of the top artists in the game right now, and I actually say that all the time. Ferg has made hit records that will go down in the hip-hop section of classics. "Work," "Work" remix, "Shabba" and "New Level" -- those records will always go off every time you play them, now or 20 years from now. Just being in the studio with Ferg on the production tip -- because I produce as well -- has been a great experience.
Who have you worked with production-wise?
I have an EP that’s coming out. I have people like Sebastian Mikael, a super dope singer. He had some records back in the day with Wale and he’s killing it right now. Another guy, Jonathan Stein, who is an incredible producer, is someone I’ve been working with on this EP too. Another friend of mine is a dope producer. Just a bunch of guys we have been meeting on the road and coming across them in their town. Just being able to work with these guys is fun.
Do you have a release date or title for your EP?
Probably in the middle of this tour, so around November or December, but there’s actually no date on it. I actually made the track list today and it’s going to be three records. I haven’t come up with a name yet. I’m waiting to get all of the music done fully before I come up with that.
What other ventures do you have going on?
I’ve always been into clothing, style and fashion, but that’s something I’ll probably keep in-house with Dope Roots, a record label we started for DJs and producers in January of this year. I won’t be doing too much fashion, as I want to stay focused on music. We also got the Jam Master Jay Foundation for Music that we’ve been pushing. It’s a foundation my mom started about a year after my father passed. We started raising money for inner city schools for their music education programs. We’ve been working with different schools, businesses and brands to raise awareness.
We recently did these fun hip-hop lip sync battles where we got CEOs of Fortune 500 companies to come lip sync their favorite songs for a group of people. Watching those people with an immense amount of power let loose and have fun was incredible, and we raised a lot of money.
Which up-and-coming artists do you feel got next?
I definitely feel like there are a lot of people that are on the come-up. Jay IDK is one of them, and is actually an artist I work close with. He creates his albums where they’re all themed to stuff that’s happening in society. Of course, I love the ignorant stuff as well. There’s this other kid, LiL Peep, that I think is popping. He’s actually on the brink of something new. He incorporates that emo rock of the late '90s and early 2000s.
How do you see yourself making an impact in the music industry in the next 10 years?
I want my company and crew to set a demeanor and vibe with producing music and within the DJ culture. Personally, I’m strongly connected to the culture and where it goes as an art form. I stand for making sure this art form stays alive, and [for] doing it in a cool, relevant way.