DJ Finesse, also known as “The Crowd Favorite,” has an impressive career spanning three decades as a former DJ for Bad Boy Entertainment/Records. He is widely recognized as one of the most dedicated and diligent DJs in the industry, thanks to his exceptional collaboration skills and captivating personality. Throughout his career, Finesse has had the privilege of working with an impressive roster of A-list celebrities, including P Diddy, Jamie Foxx, 50 Cent, Kat Williams, Ice-T, Nelly, Cisco, Magic Johnson, Ludacris, A Boogie, Nick Cannon, and many more. His remarkable talent and professionalism have earned him the respect and admiration of industry giants.
How has the industry changed since you first started out? This is the digital age of technology, instant gratification, and access. Social media has replaced real human connections and in-person relationships. The grind is different. I’m not saying it’s all bad, it’s something I am still getting used to. I remember putting close to 40k miles on my SUV in one year because I had to be in the cities and states that were popping. I loved that grind! Now I can do it from the comfort of my DJ room in my house by going live on one of my social media platforms.
When I was coming up, it was all about skill and the need to be different. We embraced Hip-Hop culture. We studied it and lived it. We didn’t want to sound like the next person. Now I feel it’s a cookie-cutter approach to everything and needs to be accepted. There will always be dope artists in every era, but I do feel popularity has replaced talent in some regard.
What do you think is the key to longevity in the music industry? I will hang my hat on the word ‘Value”. The mantra to my lifestyle brand is, “Value is the true currency”. Everyone is so focused on chasing the bag. If you want longevity in this industry, chase and provide VALUE! I’m 54 and still relevant. Am I talented, I’d like to believe so. Do I work at my craft, yes I do. My longevity in this industry is my ability to continually think of ways to add value to the lives of others. As long as you add value, you will ALWAYS have opportunities. People will want to work with you because you have a vested interest in their careers and helping them solve their problems. Trust me, people will pay big money for that skill set. It sounds crazy putting the needs of others before your own especially if you’re not where you want to be in your life and career. All I can say is that, that approach and mindset are foolproof!
Can you tell us about a particularly memorable moment from your career? I mentioned earlier working with Nelly. Kid Capri to me is still the best club DJ I have ever heard! When it comes to rocking a party, I haven’t seen anyone better and I’ve seen a ton of DJs all over the world. I got to meet him when he came to spin at a club I was spinning at in Providence Rhode Island.
When I saw him live and witnessed him flipping through records and how he commanded the crowd with his mic play, I was like whoa! I made it a point to go to every Kid Capri event possible. Rhode Island, Boston, NY, Atlanta, you name it, I was there. He invited me onto his tour bus a few times and we chopped it up. He gave me some valuable nuggets I use to this day. I learned how to rock a party from Kid Capri.
Earlier I mentioned me spinning for Nelly at the Rum Jungle inside the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. That party was bananas! Everyone was there! What I failed to mention was Kid Capri was sitting in the booth watching me spin. I don’t know about you, but having someone you considered a mentor sitting in the booth watching you spin was a bit nerve-wracking. I’d watched Kid Capri destroy so many parties and now he was there watching me. As a DJ, that was the minute I knew I had come full circle, and definitely one of my proudest moments.
How do you stay up-to-date with current music trends? New music comes out so frequently nowadays it’s truly hard to keep up with. I definitely have a bunch of outlets that keep me in the know. My son JC is 24 and starting his career in the music industry. He has a really good ear on who’s hot or up and coming. We talk about music all the time at the kitchen table. My good friend Dj Halfpint is a DJ on Hot 106 FM here in RI and sends me joints as well. I definitely can’t go wrong listening to my man Dj Whoo Kid on Shade 45.
I’m also extremely blessed to be the DJ for the NCAA Division 1 Providence College Friars in the Big East Conference. I get to spin in front of 12,000 people every home game and to be honest, the players help keep me up to date with new music. I definitely have some solid sources to be up-to-date with current music.
What do you consider to be your most significant career accomplishment? I’ve been blessed up until this point. I feel I have so much more to offer, but I have done damn near everything I’ve wanted to accomplish. Having this opportunity is another blessing. I definitely have to say my most significant career accomplishment would be becoming an official DJ for Bad Boy Entertainment. Those 7 years from 2004-2011 were an incredible time in my career. I don’t think people truly understand the power of branding and what it means to be attached to a major record label like that.
I was repping one of the most iconic record labels in the history of music! We’re talking about Diddy! Think about all the artists that came from that label and here I was repping For the record, I was not Diddy’s DJ. I always make sure to make that point clear. I was an official DJ for the label. Rich Dollaz was, and still is my guy. We did so many parties together, broke records, artists, shows, concerts, NBA All-Star Weekends, NFL Super Bowl Weekends, Red Carpet events, you name it!
The crazy thing about it, it all comes back to relationships. If I don’t befriend Masta Ace in college, I don’t get a chance to meet Special Ed. I don’t meet Ed and become cool with him, I don’t go on BET. I don’t go on BET, the record labels don’t start calling. No record labels, no Rich Dollaz, Hen-Roc & Sean Prez. Without those guys, NO BAD BOY!
How does it feel to have gone viral on social media? I’m going to answer this as humbly and honestly as I can. Most of my accomplishments happened before social media so a lot has gone unnoticed. Going viral is one person’s perception or perspective. I don’t feel I’ve gone viral. I’ve seen what viral looks like and I humbly don’t believe I have.
What I will say is I have some people I work with who have done an incredible job helping me with social media, marketing, and branding. I have an amazing Publicist in Pilar Scratch who in just a short period of time has done an amazing job getting my story and accomplishments out to the public. My guy Baylor Coffman has really helped me understand the power of social media and how to maintain and maximize the relationships on those platforms. I don’t believe I’ve gone viral. I believe people are
finally getting to see who I am, what I’ve done, and what I stand for. I believe my integrity and transparency are attractive to some and worth following.
How has going viral impacted your career? I will simply say the more people who get to see what it is you do, and what you stand for the better. People want to know you’re real and authentic. They want to be able to connect with you on a personal level. I believe I did that with my book and I am intentional in doing that on my social media platforms. They can see and witness the value I try to bring firsthand. As long as I continue to add value, I believe I will continue to connect with new people from all over the world, from all walks of life.
What’s next for you in terms of your career goals? I really want to focus on a career in public speaking. I believe I have something worth saying that can help people break through whatever is holding them back from living the life of their dreams. I intend to give the Lifestyle Brand and the Finesse Your Lifestyle merch more attention. I have a dope graphic designer Luis Ramirez out of Miami who is putting together some dope tee-shirt designs.
And, as of late I’ve been entertaining writing another book but that would have to come off the heels of my first book From Personal to Purpose.
Can you give us a sneak peek into any upcoming projects you have in the works? I have a massive project I’m working on in the reality space. It’s a reality boxing show called The Call Out “Punching For Peace”. Without giving the plot away, just know we are doing something that has never been done in boxing and the reality space. Stay tuned! I’m also negotiating a potential partnership with Grieco BMW here in Rhode Island. I’ve got some really cool ideas for their brand.