Melding Gospel with the mainstream, DJ Dex aims to take his movement of inspirational music far beyond the borders of typical gospel music.
You may not have heard of DJ DEX, but his movement of inspirational music is on the forefront of what might be the turning point in the divide between old school gospel and new school praise.
I got to speak with this mild-mSannered DJ with a heart of gold on his inspirations, his family, and what he means when he says his music is a “movement”.
Salute: How does your family perceive what you do? Are they supportive? Do they get involved?
DJ DEX: They are very supportive! If I have an event locally in Atlanta, they will attend. I travel a lot so anything I’m doing they support me the best they can.
Salute:: Do you ever call on them for help or inspiration?
DJ DEX: My sister who is an author I call on her a lot because we have a strong relationship, my other sister is a stylist, and I call on her when I have a red carpet event, and even my dad he always pushes me to keep going and move forward.
Salute:: Your Father was the one who initially suggested that you play gospel music; do you remember what the first successful song that you mixed was?
DJ DEX: -LAUGHS- I would have to say Mary-Mary “Shackles” I mixed it with a dope mainstream instrumental that was out at the time. I not only did that but I mashed it up with a pastor preaching, so I blended his message to the song, nd everyone loved it. That is what made my mix so unique.
I felt that was a better way of ministering to the younger generation because I felt like an easier way to pick up the message through music. I was living in North Carolina at the time and I started sending my mix tapes to Atlanta, and that is when people really started to get into my music.
It’s funny because I actually started to bring that back to my music now. My mixtape “Relationships” is a lot like that. It is doing really well it actually got 15k downloads in one day.
Salute:: I was listening to your mixtape “For the Streets” this morning because I needed some energy; I have to say I was sleeping on it. I did not expect to turn up like that but the songs really had me hype. I listened to “Relationships” the other day and it was pretty mellow but For the streets was hitting.
I love that your music is so different, has so much energy and is so positive there isn’t much like it out there in the music industry. Because there is a lot of negativity out there.
DJ DEX: Wow, Thank you! That is what I like to do is be positive. I don’t even put myself in the gospel category, I like to think that my music is in the inspirational category. If you look at my music almost all the playlist has mainstream artists on it.
There is a message we are trying to send, and being right with God is one of those messages but that isn’t the only message. I think you can meld inspirational music with mainstream like Lecrae did with Ty Dolla $ign, and have a hit. A lot of people thought that formula wouldn’t work but they are killing it right now.
Salute:: Since you started playing larger venues and festivals, how do you feel the reception of your music has changed?
DJ Dex: I think it changes with each demographic that I DJ. For instance, I have an event coming up called “Joy Fest” with Kirk Franklin. I have to play something for everyone so I have to tap on the quartet, Christian contemporary, hip-hop inspirational, and I have to tap into traditional gospel music. What changes are the new people in gospel like Travis Greene, Jonathan McReynolds, Jordan Armstrong, and Keyondra Lockett. Those are people you don’t hear on the radio that I try to blend in with my set. I really feel that radio stations are behind on gospel in general. I love my job and I love catering to the people.
Salute:: I can agree with you there. I think radio, in general, is behind. The test of a good DJ is being able to feel out the crowd and adapt to what they want to hear. It seems like you are doing a good job with that.
Speaking of radio, you mentioned working with Kirk Franklin for Joy Fest. You also work with him on his Sirius XM Channel for your show called “The Well.” Tell me a little bit about that.
DJ DEX: “The Well” is doing great! I sat down with Kirk and my manager Ron Hill two years ago and talked about the show which was a syndicated show that I had originally. I asked Kirk if he would like the younger generation to put their music out there because there was not really an outlet for them on FM. There wasn’t anything out there that was “REAL” something they could really vibe to. I get an audience that comes from Live Nation, that comes to my show for an hour and goes back to Live Nation.
I think Sirius is a great fit for that. So Kirk and I sat down and came up with the name “The Well” everyone in the bible came to the well to get refreshed and pray so that is what we came up with. The show is an hour on Fridays and Saturdays at 10 PM EST and it’s nothing but just music on Sirius, so we are hitting everyone with new music. That’s what keeps things relevant.
I thank God for Kirk and opening up this opportunity to open up the well to become a job.
Salute:: Sirius and outlets like Sirius have changed the game for more specialized content.
You talk a lot about the movement, tell me a little bit about the impact you want the movement to have.
DJ DEX: The movement is inspirational. There are all these different genre’s Hip-Hop, Gospel, R&B for example. I want to be the founder of Inspirational DJ’ing. I want the movement to be inspirational to the level of DJ Khaled. I want to be able to crossover and be played on both gospel and mainstream channels. For example, Kanye West came out with “Jesus Walk” and it was on both mainstream and gospel channels.
That’s the movement, and that’s how I want to change lives. I thank God for Lecrae and what he is doing because with his mixtapes and what he is doing when I collaborate with others it won’t be a surprise, it won’t be strange If I were to work with DJ Khaled, it will make sense.
Salute:: That was actually my next question. Who would you love to collaborate with from mainstream music and rap?
DJ DEX: Hands down, DJ Khaled, We the Best Music. The reason for that being, his spiritual life is there. If you listen to his last album and listen to his music it is very inspirational. A lot of people don’t realize it but if you really listen to his music it’s really inspirational on a mainstream level. I want to do that but more on a ministering level. I would love to have Chris Brown and Erica Campbell on a track or have Monica on a track with Jonathan McReynolds. But I think that type of thing is waiting on me.
Salute:: What artists do you think will take this movement to the next level besides yourself?
DJ DEX: There are artists out there that will take it to the next level but they are independent. I would have to say Lecrae, NF, Keyondra Lockett. There are tons of artists out there but they are all independent.
Salute:: That is the way a lot of people are going now to keep their vision and their coins together.What are you working on and where can we see you next?
DJ DEX: I am working on an EP. I do not know when it will drop but it will be dropping later this year. I want to work with other inspirational artists like Keyondra Lockett and Jordan Armstrong and get them out there through my work as well because they are influential in inspirational mucic.
I will also continue doing events, and working with Sirius as well.