DJ RNB Talks Durham's Music Scene, Kingdem Karoke

Updated: Mar 25, 2020

DJ RNB is an International touring Disc Jockey, Radio Personality, and Actor based out of Durham NC. Infused with a rich knowledge of music, this creative innovator is known as The Most Diverse DJ in North Carolina. His super clean mixes as well as his signature lhight show transcends both cultural and generational boundaries. He is born and raised in New York, where he served as the DJ of many local events, performed in many dance and theatre shows, and served as the Emcee for several talent shows. I have a bachelor’s degree in political science, with a minor concentration in Music and Theatre Arts from Hartwick College in Central NY.

Pressed caught up with the International DJ to talk about Durham's music scene, Kingdem Karaoke, his start in radio and more.

PRESSED: You currently reside in Durham, a city not necessarily known nationally for hip-hop/R&B. What's the local hip-hop/R&B scene like there and what's part do you play in that scene?

DJRNB: I grew up in New York City, lived there until I was 13. Then lived in upstate NY until I relocated here 5 years ago. In terms of the local music scene Durham by far is superior from a talent stand point. I do an open mic with Mir-I-am from K97.5 and there’s times, that I am honestly confused as to how some of these people aren't not only mainstream, but multi Grammy winners by now. The talent in Durham is crazy. I make it my duty to play as many local songs during my gigs as I can fit in. I mix their songs just as I do any other songs, and it helps as I get requests for songs from people who don't even know that the song is from someone right here in Durham. That’s major. I am a member of the country wide "Nerve DJs". They are based in Cleveland Ohio, and I have 2 weekly radio shows on their station where I have freedom to break tracks. So many artists here in Durham are getting noticed in the Midwest due to this. I had several people tune in to my show and ask for details about the songs I played as they love it.

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?

DJRNB: Last year I DJ’d a concert for a major New Orleans bounce artist "Big Freedia" at "The Bar" in downtown Durham. It was about 2000 people there. I was the DJ before and after her set and had the entire crowd rocking with me from 9 pm - 3 am. Any DJ can tell you when you get into that mode, where the entire crowd is connected to you on an energy level, and you have the ability to take them wherever you want with the music that’s a dream come true. The host of that event was TS Madison from the TV show Love and Hip-hop. A couple months later I did another concert hosted by TS Madison, this time for R&B singer Lil Mo, and TS Madison not only remembered me, but was telling Lil Mo how dope the DJ was. Lil Mo said she heard about me and was nice to meet me. That was dope!

PRESSED: What do you think about digital DJ setups like Serato, Traktor, Ableton? Do you use them?

DJRNB: Digital is the future... End of story. I can spin on vinyl, and cdjs, but I prefer Serato. In 2018, it’s the industry standard.

PRESSED: You are currently spinning on the mix show for K97.5, Choice FM 92.1, WKNC 88.1FM and WNRV 108.1. Tell us how you got started in radio.

DJRNB: I originally started in radio back in college (Hartwick College in Oneonta NY) at their on campus station WRHO. This was before my DJ days. I was the color commentator for the football women and men basketball games. Fast forward 5 years, I happened to randomly meet K97.5 and WKNC radio personality Mir-I-Am at the 2015 Carolina Music Awards, and noticed her media pass. I introduced myself and exchanged information. She happened to randomly stumble upon one of my gigs and remembered me. She said, she was looking for a mix show DJ for her WKNC radio show "Real RNB Radio" on Saturday nights and of course I said yes.

PRESSED: For our readers who have never heard of DJ RnB, tell us who is DJ RnB and who or what inspired you to chase the dream.

DJRNB: I'm known as the most diverse DJ in North Carolina. I served as the DJ for many local events, performed in many dance and theatre shows, and served as the emcee for several talent shows in NY. I always knew I wanted to do something in the entertainment field, but didn't know what. I can't sing and can only rap when intoxicated. (Laughs). Some of my early influencers were DJ TGIF and DJ Rookie both out of New York. I saw how they were much different than the average bar DJ, their personality truly shined through their DJ shows.

PRESSED: Besides the obvious Grand Master Flash, DJ Kool Herc, & Jam Master Jay, in your opinion what other DJ’s impacted the game?

DJRNB: DJ Jazzy Jeff and Kid Capri set the standard for current DJs. They are two vets who use serato and other new technology to enhance the DJ game. Much respect to them. DJ Khaled is also major. He is setting ways for urban DJs to be paid just as much as artist do. It used to be the DJ breaks an artist, then the artist goes on to make millions while the DJ is still home struggling to pay bills. Khaled is changing that. Salute to him.

PRESSED: Speak briefly about "Kingdem Karaoke, what is its purpose and your contribution to it?

Kingdem Karaoke is something I created back in 2014. My wife is a karaoke addict (laughs), so we used to go a lot to different shows all around, and in my opinion all was dope but was "regular". So I created Kingdem Karaoke which is performance concert style karaoke. There’s a live DJ to open the show that gets the crowd hyped up, and he also DJs between singers. Not play 20 seconds of a song like at other shows, but actually does a DJ set which gets the crowd hyped. I include theatre lights which are customized for each singer. We have silhouette and strobe effects, smoke machines, laser lighting, wireless mics, and a state of the art sound system. Picture the Beyonce and Jay Z ”On The Run 2” tour in your local bar, that’s Kingdem Karaoke. Though it is very expensive to do (each karaoke song costs about $3 a piece, and we have about 15,000 and buy new ones every week) it is still a baby of a business,. being only 4 years old. In 10 years, Kingdem Karaoke will be a national brand in bars and clubs all around the country.

PRESSED: What do you think is considered a mistake that effect a DJ’S creativity and career that may hold him back? What advice would you give to aspiring DJs?

DJRNB: The main mistake is being afraid to fail. Not taking risks. When I quit my 9-5 job in 2014, I had zero DJ gigs lined up. I had zero connections of networks here. Only a dream... It was either I succeed or I wouldn't have money to pay bills and live. I had about $3000 in my savings, and spent nearly all of it on an engagement ring for my now lovely wife. Now I’m booked 20 plus days every month and I'm a well-known DJ name in the state, soon to be country. The time to live your dreams is always now.

PRESSED: Who are some DOPE up and coming artist in your area who are putting the hard work in and that you support?

DJRNB: Jooselord Magnus, 3am Sound, Imani Pressly, Sofree Wisdom, Danny Blaze, Shame, and Mballa. These are the ones I previously mentioned that, I’m not sure how they aren't already multi-times Grammy winning artists. Their time is definitely coming though, as their work ethic is incredible.

PRESSED: Talk about you being the tour dj for Carolina Waves. How did that come about?

DJRNB: Me and Mir-I-am from k97.5 was doing the WKNC radio show, and I hired her a few times to host some special episodes of Kingdem Karaoke. She and I have an incredible and natural chemistry running a show together. She is the biggest person for local music here. She asked me to be the DJ for her Carolina Waves open mics, tours, showcases, concerts and of course I said yes... Chemistry between the host and DJ is a must in order to have a smooth running show. Songs are always cued up in times, never any microphone feedback, etc.

PRESSED: If you had the chance to share the stage with a DJ legend, who would that be and why?

DJRNB: Without question Kid Capri. Similar to him I don't DJ parties, I DJ experiences. I tell stories through my set. Very active on the mic. DJ RNB and Kid Capri on the same bill would be amazing.


2016, 2017, 2018 CMAwards DJ of the Year Finalist

2017 WRAL DJ of the Year Finalist

2016, 2017, 2018 Indy week Best Karaoke Finalist

2018 Indy week Best Trivia Finalist

WKNC 88.1 Mixshow DJ

Nerve 108 Mixshow DJ

Nerve DJ's

iTeam DJ's Carolina Waves Kingdem Karaoke

Dope Trivia

Facebook/Twitter/Instagram/Mixcloud @TheDJRNB

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