DJ Benzi has been deejaying at clubs long before he was technically old enough to have a drink or two on the job. He caught the bug in ninth grade when he scrimped, saved, and ultimately stole some money from his parents to order his first deejay kit. “You could buy a starter kit; it was $299 then I realized I needed speakers and it kind of blew up into this whole thing,” Benzi explained. By the time he got to high school he wasn’t just going to prom he was deejaying prom, and instead of dancing the night away his dates would be posted in the booth with him all night.
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DOWNLOAD & Listen to DJ Benzi’s latest mixtape, Sunscreen, below.
After high school, Benzi, who gets his name from the bright yellow Mercedes he used to drive, attended Western Michigan University. He still continued to pursue his deejay career even though he was majoring in business economics; “my first day I somehow had a lot of confidence and I went up to the fraternities and said ‘hey I’m the best deejay you’ve ever heard’ when I really wasn’t,” explained Benzi. His confidence must have worked because he went on to play all the frats and bars around campus.
When he graduated from college he interviewed for two real jobs to appease his parents, “after the interview I called them and said ‘listen, I’m not in the market for a job sorry to waste your time.’ I didn’t even go to the second round of interviews.”
As a DJ Benzi is known for bringing different types of music together into his mixes and introducing people to different genres, making hip-hop dance and club friendly is one of his signature moves. His latest mixtape, Sunscreen, which will be a free download dropping today (July 18), is aiming to do that as well; “Sunscreen is a summery hip-hop mix obviously I don’t do anything normal so it’s all these hip hop records with moombahton put into them and tons of classics as well.”
If you were to take a look at Benzi’s wrist you would probably find a rubber band. He started this quirky tradition when he was a teenager and it has carried on to the present day, “It started in high school, right now I’m wearing a white one, I’ve got a combination now because you can’t buy them I’ve looked everywhere so I have to collect them. It’s kind of my thing, I would always snap it if I ever got nervous or something.” Though the rubber bands may have brought him a little bit of luck in the past I wouldn’t credit them for any of his success; he has put in lots of work from day one.
In addition to all the mixes he regularly puts out Benzi has teamed up with Sirius and Mike Posner for a regular radio show. The show is best known among college students for their (slightly controversial) Power Hour series, “Mike and I know what each other likes so we can do it quickly, obviously there was a lot of tiptoeing around the Power Hour idea because you can’t really tell people on the radio to get drunk.”
It was through Benzi’s friendship with Big Sean that he first caught wind of Mike Posner. Benzi and Big Sean were brought together through their work on the Sky High mixtape (hosted by Benzi, Kanye and Plain Pat). “Sean said ‘I’ve got this friend who sings,’ and I was like ‘No, I’m good’ because people always say that. Somehow when I was online getting the rest of these Sean songs for the CD I heard ‘Smoke and Drive.’ After that Mike and I started talking and we decided to do a mixtape. We did it in, like, two days. He didn’t sleep, I didn’t sleep, we did it over AIM and then we got together in person. It was really intense.”
After putting out “A Matter of Time” with Posner Benzi became his deejay, “before he got the band he needed a deejay obviously so we would go around together. Then I started taking him with me. I took him to spring break in Panama City and as we were walking down the street I’d tell him to go sing to a random group of girls. He would sing ‘Cooler Than Me’ to that group of girls– nobody knew who he was, nobody knew his songs but by the end of it all he had made a lot of fans.”
Benzi doesn’t stop at deejaying, he also has his own label, Get Right Records, that he has started up. The first single to be released under his label will be by Silver Medallion and it will be dropping in August. “It’s by Silver Medallion and then there will be an ultimate version with Shwayze, it’s Shwayze doing this sexy rap thing, if I didn’t tell you it was Shwayze I don’t think anyone would know it was Shwayze if I didn’t tell them.” On top of everything else with his new label Benzi has been working on his own album, “hopefully it will all culminate in my album that I have been working on forever!”
Sunscreen Mixtape Player & Download (button on right of player)
Tracked Out Version (coming soon)Follow @RosaB213