Miami’s bustling nightlife has had its fair share of DJ’s come through its doors to leave their mark on the Magic City. Pioneers like DJ Laz, DJ Uncle Al, and DJ Craze were the first to pave the way for modern-day disc jockeys to leave their own legacy. Today, DJ Don Hot is rapidly rising through the ranks as the next big Miami DJ.
There’s no questioning how lively Miami’s party scene is. The number of clubs that line Collins Avenue and Ocean Drive places Miami on the list of best party cities and Don Hot is one of the very few DJ’s in the city that is on top of their game. Don’s journey began when he was only 12 years old when his mother bought him his first pair of turntables. Hot’s uncle influenced him to hone his craft and by the time he was 17, he landed his first major gig.
Through hard work and persistence, Hot has become one of the most in-demand DJ’s in Miami. If he’s not tearing down the roof at Story he’s making his presence felt overseas. If you’re looking for a party look no further than one of Don Hot’s functions.
Social Blackbook sat with Don Hot to get his thoughts on DJing, his favorite spot to play in, what he learned from the greats before him and why the digital age isn’t hurting DJ’s. Check it out below!
What was your come-up like in the Miami DJ scene?
There was a promoter that I used to work with called Dream Team. As I was trying to grow, they were trying to grow as well so they started doing this party on Saturday’s at the old Club Ivy. One of their resident DJ’s couldn’t make it on one Saturday and I was given the opportunity to fill in. From me doing that is pretty much how I got to do more parties.
How did you develop your love for DJing?
I started at the age of 12. My mother got me turntables for my twelfth birthday. Prior to that though the influence came in with one of my uncles. He was a DJ and I was just fascinated by all of the equipment and all that.
What other DJ’s did you look up to or inspire you?
What did you take away from those DJ’s and applied to your own skills?
With DJ Khaled the energy that he brought when he was on the turntables was different from other hip hop DJ’s. His playing style was more of a Jamaican playing style. That style was talking on the mic heavy and using dubplates. Jam Pony Express and the timing of their talk was impeccable. A lot of people may not be familiar with these guys but what they would do is when music was playing they would fill in their own words to the music and it would just be right on time. Tony Matterhorn and his level of psychology is crazy. He can get people lit just off the things he would say. His ability to talk to the crowd is incredible. Uncle Al, he’s just a South Florida legend. I used to listen to him on the radio a lot.
What are some of the things you dislike about DJ’ing?
I don’t like a lot of people around me especially those I don’t know. Some might say I’m rude or mean but it’s not that I just don’t like strangers around me and talking to me too much while I’m working. Sometimes DJ’ing in South Beach you come across a lot of fake people. It’s a very superficial market. The number one thing I hate about DJ’ing, I guess, is just the times when people are stuck on their phones so they don’t get to be in the moment as much as they possibly can.
What does it take for a DJ to stand out in the scene in South Beach?
Everyone’s journey is different. My journey is different from other DJ’s. For me, what I can say, aligning yourself with the right promoters can definitely help. Not sub-promoters but the actual key people that build the events. A step better would be aligning yourself with club owners because they’ll really put you in a position to do something. There’s always playing your ass off but sometimes that works and sometimes it doesn’t.
What’s your favorite spot in Miami to DJ at?
My favorite spot to DJ would be Story (nightclub) and the reason is that it really highlights my capabilities. Not everyone can work that room especially the type of DJ that I am. You got guys that are good but what I do in Story I don’t really see other DJ’s do in Story. Sometimes when I’m working in there it looks like it’s the Ultra Music Festival [laughs]. I really bring the energy to that room and there are people that have been DJ’ing in that room for years but they don’t do what I do. I own that room when I go in it.
How do you view DJ’ing as it transitions into a more digital era?
It’s really this simple because it doesn’t matter what a person uses as long as they’re playing what the people want. That’s the bottom line, as long as they’re playing what the people want and what they need that’s the only thing that matters. You can use two Walkmans if you know how to make that work. The technology I think is a good thing because it pushes things forward. We all love technology and we all love convenience. I much rather a laptop than lugging around 20,000 records.
Back in the day DJ’s used to cut new records but these days DJ’s rarely do that. How do you feel about that?
Things are different now. Before the DJ would be the one getting access to brand new music. Now we live in a time where people in the crowd have the same access to new music that I do. So it’s a lot harder for a DJ to, per se, break a record. Me, if there’s a new song I like and it happens to just not be playing in the club and I really believe in the record I’ll go and play it. But I’m not telling my self that I’m going to break this record. I can give two shits about that. The main reason is that everyone has access to music these days.
Do you feel that makes it easier to be a DJ and how do you feel about that?
1000 percent. It’s fine because everybody needs a way to feed their family and there’s nothing wrong with that. At the end of the day, the strongest will survive. Yeah, there’s a million of DJ’s out there but one might say I’m popping or I’ve elevated and I’m going to attribute that to my talents and capabilities.
Do you feel the DJ scene is losing its touch because of that? People really needed skill back in the day to DJ but these days everything is done with the press of a button.
I won’t say it’s losing anything. Nowadays you got DJ’s and producers who’ll go to a venue, work and spin for two hours and make hundreds of thousands of dollars. I’m going to say hell no it’s actually grown.