What's good, Chuck T? I know most people probably know this info already, but here at RapWire.Net we always ask people to explain how they got their name. How did you get DJ Chuck T.
[Laughs] Yeah...most people should know this story by now but you'd be surprised by the amount of people who don't. They really think my name is Charles [laughs]. I got my name from when I first started DJing and I didn't have a name yet. I'd just stopped rapping and I didn't want to associate any of my rap career with my DJing career. The clubs I was DJing at would call me Chuck Town because I was from Charleston. So when I finally decided to take DJing serious I kept the name and just added "DJ" to the front and shortened the "Town" to the letter "T".
Speaking of "your" town, you're one of the few DJs from Charleston who's really been able to break out of the market and make a name for yourself on a national level. You've also helped a ton of artits from there get their music out to the masses. How difficult was that task?
It was very hard at first, but the pay off has been rewarding. There's no better feeling than getting love in your own home town and being supported by the city that made you. Charleston was a market that was on the rise for years and hit a big economic and social hurdle when the US Navy pulled out about 15 years ago. We lost a lot of money, our populuation, and a lot of diverse people that brought knowledge and businesses' to our city. That spilled over into the entertainment scene as well. When I was rapping there was money and a lot of fans to buy your music. When I started DJing there were only pennies left to get a lot of haters. Everyone from club promoters, to club owners, to studios, to record stores, rappers, DJs and producers were fighting over the same dollar and a "Dog Eat Dog" mentality developed. I stayed on top because I supported the local music community but I made sure the SERIOUS artists got most of my attention. Sure, it pissed off a lot of the other artists but you can't save everyone. I had a lot of artists turn against me, diss me and make slick remarks but I don't fault them. Everyone feels they're the hottest artist and they deserve the support of people like me and the other big DJs in the city. But there are approximately only 3 or 4 strong DJs in Charleston and about 300 rappers. Its impossible.
Ok, so who are those "certain" artists and what makes them special?
I go hard for Marly Mar, Fat Boy, Mista Taylor, Big Doe and now that my homie Lil' Buc is home we'll start goin' hard with his music again soon. All of these artists either knew me before rap or came through for me in hard times. I'm a loyal person and I never....and I repeat NEVER forget when people put their careers or financial stability on the line for me. Me and some of them have bumped heads at times but you'd never know it. I keep it to myself and they keep it to themselves cause we know eventually cooler heads will prevail and we'll be back kickin' it soon. I deal with a lot more artists in the city than just these 4 or 5 people and my tapes prove it, but those are the artists that I'll always go out my way for because they've held me down since day one when I was selling CDs out my '88 Pontiac Sunbird with the ripped up interior [laughs].
You didn't name Pachino Dino in that list and he's been seen as one of the top rappers to ever come out of Charleston. I heard thru the grap vine that you and Pachino Dino had some issues at one time. Is that true?
Pachino Dino is from Downtown and we never really knew each other. It's not that we haven't heard of each other, it's that I'm from North Charleston and if you're from Charleston you know the two sides don't really mix too well. We keep to our sides of the city and that's just how it's been since before we were born. Downtown mainly dealt with DJ Kub and North Charleston mainly dealt with me or DJ D-Nice. The situation you're referring to wasn't an issue at all. Pachino Dino had a song on his album that people thought was about Marly Mar and since Pachino was locked up at the time there wasn't really a way to squash it or find out if it was a real diss or not. The streets took it, ran with it and with Marly being my homie I had to choose sides. I didn't diss Dino or talk bad about him, I just didn't play his music. When he came home, Marly and Dino squashed the beef and from there it was all good. Pachino was upset I didn't name him as one of the top rappers in the city in an interview I did awhile back but when I talked to him and explained why I didn't he totally understood. Me and Dino have an interview together that will shut the city down if it ever hits the streets.We were working on some something MONSTROUS before he got locked up. I'm talking HUGE!
Thank for clearing that up for us. For someone who had such a successful rap career and was a pioneer for your city, why did you stop rapping?
Mainly because I hate lying. I was lying on records and misleading my fans. Rap is entertainment and most of what rappers talk about isn't their story but when you run around saying "IM A REAL NIGGA!" and your rhymes aren't about you and what YOU'VE done then you're not real. I was a corner boy talkin' about slangin' kilos. I was a worker talking about being a boss. I've shot at people in self-defense but I was talking about killing people when I knew I hadn't killed anyone. I wasn't trying to be a role model but when you're in the spotlight you assume that role. The wake up call for me was when I heard some little neighborhood kids tell my older brother they wanted a gun cause I said in one of my songs "I never sleep without my heat." That let me know I was leading people astray. I didn't sleep without my heat because of the negative lifestyle I was leading; not because it was cool.I damn sure didn't need some little kid killing himself or his friends over a song I made. I wouldn't be able to live with that.
So when you stopped rapping did you go straight into DJing or was there a period where you had to figure out what you wanted to do?
I'm glad you asked me that. When I stopped rapping I didn't know what I was going to do. I really wasn't interested in selling weed my whole life so I went and got a job. It was hard because everyone around me still wanted me to rap and sell drugs. I started working for Sprint selling cell phones and after that I started working at Underground Station selling shoes. Thats when I was introduced to mixtapes. The fellas I worked with were from NC and had roots in NY and they had all the DJ Clue, DJ Envy, DJ Kay Slay and Cutmaster C mixtapes. I heard those tapes and was amazed at how they got all the new music months before we heard it and how they were breaking artists and I knew that's what we needed in SC. I became a student of their work and started making my own tapes from there.
You've accomplished a lot over the years as a DJ. Do you think you would be as successful as you are now if you continued rapping?
No. I probably would've gotten arrested eventually. Everyone else around me did. Most of the people from my hood are either in jail, just getting out, or have one foot in the penitentiary. The life I was living wasn't productive at all while I was rapping. I would rap about something and then have to go do it in order to sleep at night. I know this sounds stupid as hell but me and homie would shoot up the parking lot of different nightclubs in Charleston just to be funny and watch everyone run. Then I'd go in the studio the next night and rap about it like an idiot. Just the thought of the stupid stuff I've done makes my stomach turn. But thank God I got thru that point in my life unscathed.
Speaking of God, you said in previous interviews that you were once deep in the Church and even was on your way to becoming a preacher. If you were hustling in the streets and rapping when did you find time for all the church stuff?
I led a double life. I remember getting text messages from people wanting weed while I was on the pulpit about to speak or in the choir loft and texting them back "I got you the minute I get out Church." I remember preaching in church during the day and then going to the club that night and poppin' bottles and tryin' take home every bad chick in the club. I come from a very religious family, most street niggas do also, so church wasn't something new to me. I'd been going my whole life. The church had me first, but the call of the streets is something serious. No matter how well you're raised there's no way a parent can prepare their child for the call of the streets. The fast life is appealing. The money is great and the women are tempting. Eventually the streets won. The church had a board meeting about me and before I could get kicked out of all of my positions I gave them up.
So what do you think would've happened if you gave up the street life to be a pastor?
I don't know. In all honesty, there's a lot of crazy stuff that goes on in my church that was turning me off. Fights in board meetings, husbands cheating on their wives with other church members, etc. All of that caused me to develop a mentality that had me about to give up on that lifestyle anyway. I felt like if I was going to be doing dirt I wasn't going to disrespect God and do it in his house and in his presence.
You're still in your 20's and you've already been thru a lot. You've accomplished a lot career wise too. You have awards and accolades that people who've been DJing 15 and 20 years haven't been able achieve. What do you attribute that too?
The time I spent with God. He blesses me because he always knew my heart and he knew I did my best to resist temptations. But I also feel that's why I go thru so many beefs and I have so many people taking shots at me. The devil is relentless too. He doesn't want to see me successful. He uses these local rappers and half ass media people to bait me into disagreements and petty arguments. I have escaped the grave and the penitentiary and the devil doesn't want to take that loss. He feels like he drove me out the church so he has the battle almost won. He knows I've shot at someone with the full intention of killing them so he knows what Im capable of. He knows if he can get someone to push the right button I wont mind pulling a trigger. I'm determined not to give him that pleasure. He'll never win. I refuse to go to jail and I refuse to die.
That leads me to my next question. You're a very controversial person and you often stay in a lot beefs and disagreements. I know you attribute that to the devil, but how do you handle those situation?
I try to squash it first. I was a very passive person at one point in time but then people start thinking you're a punching bag. If that doesn't work then I'll usually leave it alone and the person will get tired of being ignored and give up. Then you have some idiots who just won't quit and I have to show them I'm not to be played with. I'm a good person. I help a lot of people. I don't bother anyone or try to ruin anyone. So when people attack me and it's not for publicity purposes I take it very personal and will go out of my way to make them pay for it.
You were one of the first people to call yourself the "Carolina King". A lot of other people call themselves that too. How does that make you feel?
I don't sweat it at all. It's just a nickname. I have a bunch of nicknames. I can always switch up [laughs].
You moved to NC about 3 years ago. Do you get more love in SC or NC?
Definitely in SC. You have to remember that that's where Im from and where I'll probably die. I haven't bought a house here in NC yet because I still have a part of me that wants to move back to Charleston. NC has a lot of love for me but most of my relationships are business based. NC respects my business more than SC because Im not "friends" with a lot of NC artists. They dont feel like I owe them something. But as far as real love is concerned its SC hands down. I just have a hard time doing business with these SC niggas cause we've kicked it for so long they forget Im a business man too. So when I tell them a price for a mixtape they feel its too high. Even if its $300 they feel its too high. "Free" is the only price they'll be happy with [laughs].
You have a ton of awards. Have you ever counted how many awards you've won for DJing?
I have countless nominations. Close to 200 I think. But right here next to me I have 26 awards and plaques. I have 7 or 8 at my mama's house and I have about 4 I've won but never gotten the trophies for.
A lot of people feel like awards dont matter or that they're irrelevant in today music climate. How do you feel about that being that you have so many?
I dont care what anyone says....AWARDS ARE IMPORTANT. The people who say stuff like that are people who didn't win. The losers are always bitter. Every award I've won has built my stock up. Every award I've won has brought me some type of opportunity that I've been able to use to create revenue. A person will talk shit about an award and if they win it the next year its the best thing ever [laughs].
You recently started the United Carolina Record Pool. What made you want to venture off and take that on as your next business venture?
I travel a lot and people always ask me "Who's Hot In The Cak?". I'd respond with who I thought was hot but I didn't have any music to prove it. I'd also take a lot of Carolina artists out of town with me to award shows and music conferences and they wouldn't bring enough CDs or promo material to pass out. That would make me look bad because they were there with me and they're braggin to all these DJs about how hot they were and had no music to back it up. Eventually I started burning a bunch of hot records from Carolina artists onto one CD and taking it out of town with me to pass out. TJ Chapman recommended me doing something like what he does in Florida up here in SC/NC because I was damn near doing it anyway by passing out their music. I'm working on the record pool website and setting up the music clinics now. I'm going to help Carolina artists get their business right and learn industry basics. That's what we're missing.
So who are some of the artists you're working with right now?
I have projects on the way from Bettie Grind, King Carter, S. Dub and J-White as far as NC is concerned. In SC I'm working on a 2nd mixtape with Marly Mar and a 2nd mixtape with Mista Taylor. Me and Boss-G have been planning one for awhile and so have Lil' Brod and I. I think 2011 is going to be a good year for Carolina Music. I just want to play my part and help as many people as I can.
I heard you and Bettie Grind were having a hard time getting press, promo, and distribution for the project yall have coming out called "Thank God For Crack". With an album title like that you should've expected that right?
[laughs] We're not having any problems. Bettie has so much music we're going thru issues deciding on what makes it and what doesn't. Plus, a lot of labels are reaching out to him and every time a contract gets put in front of him we have to hold the project up cause a major deal will change a lot of things he's doing on his own. Also, the word "Crack" in the title is an acronym for "Creating Rap As An Alternative Against Crime & Killing". That's why the A is crack is squared. It's a marketing tool. So basically its "Thank God for Creating Rap As An Alternative Against Crime & Killing".
Have you ever thought about getting into artist management? You seem to have a lot of industry knowledge that can help Carolina artists.
I've been talking to a few artists about management but nothing has gone past that. That's next on my plate though. It's time to branch out. I've done everything I can do as far as mixtapes is concerned. Im doing a lot of parties now, CD duplication for local artists, and business set ups too. Artist management is in the near future.
You spoke awhile back about getting some SC and NC artists distribution deals for their mixtapes. What happened with that?
The deal was only going to work if EVERYONE signed the paperwork. I went to a distributor that already carries my mixtapes and sold the idea on the fact that we were going to drop everyone's mixtape/albums 2 weeks apart. Everyone was going to cross promote for each other and we were going to set up a tour, spend money on radio and all that. The distributor didn't want any of these artist individually they wanted all or none. I sent everyone a contract to review and everyone agreed to it but it ended up falling apart. Nobody signed the contracts. Only 3 out of 7 had talked to lawyers and were ready to make moves. Its was a p&d deal and everyone kept their publishing, rights to their music, and we would $5.15 per CD sold. I was going to take $2.00 per CD cause I set up the deal which would've left the artists profiting $3.15 off of a mixtape they were going to give away free anyway. I still have my deal and my CDs are still in stores so I guess I shouldn't care, but I do. That was going to be a big thing for the Carolinas as a whole.
What do you think is holding back the Carolinas from becoming a major force to be reckoned with in the music industry?
REVENUE! We have all of the necessary components to be a powerhouse but there's no for artists to create real revenue off their music . Most people have to either have a 9 to 5 or be doing some type of hustle on the side to be able to fund their music. That prevents them from being able to make their music a priority. Artists invest thousands into studio time, photoshoots, graphics, mixing and mastering, and CD duplication and have no place to sell it all. The internet is a good market place but soundscan proves that over 75% of all music is still sold in stores. Without that connection to the consumer nobody is able to sell their final product which means nobody gets paid. I'm back setting up a distribution situation that can solve all of that.
So what's next for DJ Chuck T? What do you have in the works?
Im re-launching my DVD company real soon. I secured the website, trademark, and necessary business paperwork for it a long time ago but I never really had the motivation to move forward with it until recently. I want to shed a positive light on the Carolinas with it and let people know we're more than just one big circus down here. I also have mixtapes coming with quite a few notable Carolina artists. Plus, the United Carolina Record pool is almost completely up and running and Im planning my first music clinic at the top of 2011.