Updated: Mar 25, 2020
DJ Skaz Digga is a bonafide legend and a well-connected figure among today’s hip-hop world. He is a DJ, Producer, Engineer, Label Owner, and Mix Show DJ.. This man has seen it all, but still has the hunger of his 18-year-old counterparts. He's been rocking the globe with Big Daddy Kane, as his tour DJ for many years. He also produced and engineered for countless major and independent artist such as, Camp-Lo f Styles P & Pete Rock (Villa) On Smash, Mica Swain (Backwoodz Ent.) – Gimme Dat Ducee, Butta Team Pres…The Coolout Vol. 1 just to name a few.
In a recent interview with Pressed, Skaz Digga talks his start with Big Daddy Kane, artist wish list, World Famous Butta Team, digital DJ setups, Durham hip hop scene and amongst other things.
PRESSED: You currently reside in Durham, a city not necessarily known nationally for hip-hop. What's the local hip-hop scene like there and what's part do you play in that scene?
SKAZ: The local Hip Hop scene is actually promising…I’ve worked in the studio with plenty of the up and coming artists helping them develop their overall sound, delivery, song structure and such. A lot of them come to me for critique or some sort of consultation based on my expertise. I engineer or mix their music to make sure they have the quality sound to compete with the majors. Some just need the right exposure and platform to prove themselves as forces to make an impact on the culture.
PRESSED: Do you remember the first event you played at or put on when you realized that you were truly making a name for yourself?
SKAZ: I don’t necessarily remember the first event, but I was Hosting/DJing for all the major shows that came to the NC market. I also had a battle with Ron G who was a popular NYC mixtape DJ at a venue called The RITZ in Raleigh around ‘94-‘95 which brought me a lot of respect from him as well as NC as a whole. That set the tone for the DJ that I would become.
PRESSED: What do you think about digital DJ setups like Serato, Traktor, Ableton? Do you use them?
SKAZ: I think digital setups are brilliant! I prefer to use Serato, and I think it may have single handedly saved the Turntable DJ/Turntablist. Traktor DJ is the same concept. It saved the touring DJs from damaging our precious vinyl collections. I feel both platforms as well as Ableton, made it possible to produce and remix on the fly while DJing which helps the creative aspect of the art itself.
PRESSED: You are currently spinning on the mix show for WBLS 107.5 FM on the “The Show”. Tell us how you got started in radio.
SKAZ: I got started in radio being a part of The World Famous Butta Team Crew a well-respected collective of DJs and Producers heavy in the Hip Hop game in NC. We had radio shows on WXDU 88.7 at Duke and WNCU 90.7 at NCCU and WKNC 88.1 at NC State respectively for a total of 10 years strong. I got asked to submit a mix for Doug E. Fresh’s show by a good friend/Doug E. Fresh DJ, Chill Will. I sent a mix so he and Doug could check out and the rest is history. I started as a guest DJ and became a regular based on work ethic and skill.
PRESSED: How did Big Daddy Kane come into your life?
SKAZ: Kane had been hearing about my DJ ability from this singing group he was managing from NC in the 90s. I actually went to high school with the group and we did the talent shows and everything. While he was scouting me out coming to clubs to hear me rock and such…I had no idea he was paying that much attention. We had a mutual friend that linked us up and the first real meeting we had, he ask me to be his tour/road DJ. We are coming up on year 18…So I guess it worked out.
PRESSED: Walk me through the beat construct of “On Smash’.” That song is dope. What was it like working with Camp lo, Pete Rock & Styles P?
SKAZ: I didn’t actually produce the track for the song, I was the mix engineer. A producer friend by the name of Apple Juice Kid did the track but I helped bring the song to life! I met Camp Lo in the beginning of their career through a friend of mine, Ski Beatz. I had been working with Geechie Suede for years. When I mixed the song “On Smash” it only had Camp Lo and Styles P on it. They made a trip to NY and met up with Pete Rock in a studio there. He liked what he heard and asked to jump on the song. They came back to me in NC and asked me to mix Pete Rock’s vocals because they wanted to use him for the remix. After that song and it’s success, they asked if I could mix the whole album/project. I talked to Pete Rock last Winter in London while on tour and the song came up in random convo and I told him that I actually mixed the album and he was like…”Yo Dope that song lead me to do a project with them called 80s Blocks from Tiffany’s 2.” “Salute my dude!”
PRESSED: Besides the obvious Dr. Dre, DJ Premier, Just Blaze & Pharrell, in your opinion what other producers impacted the game?
SKAZ: Pete Rock, Timbaland, Nottz, Kanye West, Easy MoBee, The RZA, The Alchemist to name a few but it’s several…
PRESSED: How would you describe the music scene now compared to when you first started out?
SKAZ: Super saturated!!! Lol millions of rapper, DJs, and producers have surfaced because the art form has grown and expanded so much over the years. I feel that the outlets are more abundant currently due to the internet, which was not as accessible when I started out. You can do your music today and put it on the internet and get noticed almost instantly if you really know how to market and promote. When I started you had to travel to get notice outside of your on hood.
PRESSED: Let's fall all the way back to the beginning... For our readers who have never heard of DJ Skaz Digga, tell us who is DJ Skaz Digga and who or what inspired you to chase the dream?
SKAZ: DJ Skaz Digga is what you would call the DJ’s Dee Jay…Meaning all the DJs that I meet show a common DJ respect for my skill and craft. It was DJ’s like Grandmaster Flash, DJ Jazzy Jeff, DJ Cash Money, DJ Scratch, Kid Capri and DJ Premier that mainly were the inspiration for me wanting to actually pursue Djing but some of them made me want to be a producer as well. Hip Hop runs through my veins and I possess all the elements of the culture that we call HIP HOP. I do all elements, DJ, Rap, Breakdance, and write Graffiti completing the spectrum.
PRESSED: Talk about the World Famous Butta Team.
SKAZ: My brothers in the World Famous Butta Team are just THAT, Brothers. We’ve been a Hip Hop Collective for over 20 years and counting and we stay relevant in the game. We stay creating podcasts, songs and remixes to this day with that Butta Team flare and style! I salute DJs Bro-Rabb, Scotty Rock, Courtney C, Mike Nice, Lil Bee and Double J for all the history fellas.
PRESSED: You worked with countless artist from major to indie. Who’s on your wish list now?
SKAZ: I would love to work with M.O.P, Busta Rhymes. I do tracks with energy that I can really hear both sounding great on. Of course Jay-Z or J. Cole would be dope to work with also. I do Soul and R&B too and I would love to work with Raheem Devaughn, Ledsi. I’m really digging Anderson, Paak, Phonte and Rapsody they are real creative…I feel that they would all be dope collabs.
PRESSED: If you had the opportunity to go back, what would the new DJ Skaz Digga tell the old DJ Skaz Digga?
SKAZ: I would tell the old Skaz Digga to focus on one thing at a time…I think sometimes when I was younger, I tried to wear too many hats and it was to a fault. Also I would say be more aggressive with getting artist my tracks and music, some opportunities may have presented themselves earlier in the game had I made people more aware of all my talents. I get a lot of artist I’ve known for years say “I didn’t know you had beats like that!” “Why didn’t you tell me or let me hear your stuff” …