DJ Envy Comes To The 'Party'

Excerpted from the magazine for

Mix-tape DJs have long been considered to have the ear of the streets. Many of today's top artists made names for themselves on mix tapes. And DJs like Funkmaster Flex, DJ Clue, and Tony Touch have all parlayed early mix-tape success into lucrative recording careers with major labels. Next up to bat is DJ Envy. The Queens, N.Y., native makes his Desert Storm/Epic debut Feb. 11 with "The Desert Storm Mixtape: DJ Envy Blok Party Vol. 1."

For DJ Envy, it was a natural transition from independent mix-tape DJ to major-label recording artist. "With mix tapes, there's only so much you can do, because mix tapes are illegal. They're more of a promotional item to give away to boost your parties and to get a deal," he explains. "We wanted to get a deal so we could take it outside of the country and to places where my mix tapes don't reach."

Similarly, DJ Envy's concept for "Blok Party Vol. 1" was about expansion. "I wanted to go into every 'hood and take a piece of that life," he notes. "I called it Blok Party because every neighborhood has block parties. You might have a block party in New York, New Orleans, or North Carolina. I wanted to take a piece of everybody's life and have the album be this huge block party."

A mix tape in the truest sense, the album features unreleased tracks from Jay-Z, Busta Rhymes, and the St. Lunatics, among others.

"It was all through relationships," DJ Envy says of how he recruited artists for the set. "I've been in this industry for a while, and most of the artists and I have mutual respect for each other. So it wasn't that hard to get the artist. The hard part came with the politics at the labels and getting the artists cleared."

In addition to DJ Envy being a well-known mix-tape DJ, the two-time TDK Just-O Mix Tape Award winner is also an on-air personality for WQHT (Hot 97) New York and operates his own talent, management, and production company, BLOK Entertainment. DJ Envy, who serves as BLOK's president/CEO, has produced tracks for Foxy Brown, Def Squad, Fabolous, and DMX, among others.

Given his many ventures, some might speculate that DJ Envy is spreading himself too thin. But he just sees it as giving the people what they want.

"I had a lot of people in the record industry hating on me. But as much as they would hate, my sales of the mix tapes and parties would keep moving up," says DJ Envy. "They weren't affecting that [momentum]. So I call myself 'the people's choice' -- I'm what the people want to hear."

Excerpted from the Feb. 1, 2003, issue of Billboard. The full original text of the article is available in the members section.

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