Takin’ Over

by Adam Figman / @afigman

DJ Skee is living quite the life. A New York-born, Minnesota-raised DJ, Skee put together some of hip-hop’s most popular mixtapes over the past decade, and a simple camera purchase a few years back has since evolved into Skee.TV, one of the most popular video channels on the Net. Nowadays, aside from DJing celebrity-filled parties and creating a variety of online content, Skee is busy at work on Skee Sports—the sports division of his entertainment hub. He recently dropped a mixtape hosted by NBA Draft prospect Kemba Walker, and is currently documenting the former UConn star’s road to the pros. SLAM caught up with Skee and discussed the tape, the difference between athletes and artists, and what it’s like to work with people he once considered his heroes.

SLAM: Tell me about how you originally got started with Skee TV, then how that transitioned into Skee Sports.

DJ Skee: Skee.TV started like four and a half years ago, after YouTube started and I saw video content being the wave of the future. I literally just went to Best Buy and bought a little camera and was running around and started shooting stuff, just because I had access to cool things, whether it’s in the studio or on the road with major artists, or behind-the-scenes training with athletes—so it just started as a lifestyle channel. And along that four and a half years, we built an amazing production team. It’s kind of like a new-age music label, content creation company, entertainment hub, and that’s how we started Skee.TV.

And then with Skee Sports, growing up I thought I was gonna be a pro athlete. Sports have always been a huge part of my life. So through what I’ve done in the entertainment and music side of stuff I’ve been connected with a bunch of athletes. A lot of athletes wanted us to shoot Skee.TV for them, and at the same time I was looking at them and evaluating the market, and felt that—kind of like the same situation we were at with the music industry, where we really showcased the lifestyle of a lot of these artists—nobody was really doing that for athletes. You have the major sports networks that cover a lot of the things on the field, but there’s not really [a platform] for covering these guys off the field. And with my love for sports as well as the access that I had around all these athletes, from DJing their parties to all these things, the idea for launching a sports division just came together.

SLAM: You worked with artists for years before starting to work with athletes. How similar are the two?

Skee: I think there are a lot of the same qualities. It’s funny, it’s like every rapper wants to be a ballplayer, which is so true—every rapper from Snoop Dogg to Game, everybody thinks they’re a pro NBA player. Then you look at all these NBA players who are rappers and own entertainment companies and want to be involved in the music side. They have so much hand-in-hand from how music motivates people to how sports influence music. That’s why this Kemba Walker mixtape that we just dropped made so much sense to do.

SLAM: How’d the Kemba Walker mixtape come together?

Skee: I got connected with [an agent] at his agency, and we were just talking about Kemba, and I was like, “Dude, I’m a huge fan.” How he led that team, I was just like this dude is amazing, and then I got connected with him and sat down and met him. He’s just such a cool dude, humble, down to earth, and he’s from New York City, the Bronx—so he’s cool and credible, and has a good image, style, good musical taste, and we were just like, what can we do to expand his brand and blow it up and hype up his whole Draft week with him being one of the more high-profile players this week? So we decided to do a little campaign where we put together the mixtape; we documented him getting ready for the Draft; and then we’re gonna culminate it with a party at [New York City club] Greenhouse on Draft night after he’s been picked.

SLAM: Yeah, it seems like he’s perfect for this tape.

Skee: It’s funny. I remember I was talking to a lot of artists, and I always ask them sports questions on the radio and stuff, and a bunch of artists were like, “Yeah, I predict UConn to win—Kemba Walker is killin’ it!” And I was always like, “Yeah, I don’t know. I don’t know if UConn can do it.” And they just kept going. Getting connected with him, it just made so much sense.

SLAM: Did you grow up a big basketball fan?

Skee: Oh, absolutely. Timberwolves all day. Unfortunately.

SLAM: Well, there were some Playoff years, but overall that must’ve been rough.

Skee: Man, it was. We had JR Rider who won the Slam Dunk Contest a couple times. That was kinda the highlight. It was great because I used to go to all the games, and my dad knew the pastor for the Timberwolves, so he used to take us from the games and take us backstage. So I remember from the time we drafted Kevin Garnett and watching him grow up, and then we had a couple-year Playoff run, then we got struck by injuries and a couple things happened, but I think we’re turning it around right now. We’ve got the homie Kevin Love, who’s out in LA now and we connected with. And now we’ve got Ricky Rubio, who I’m super excited about. And the Draft pick, who we might be trading. I think we’ve got a brighter future than last year.

SLAM: How cool was it when you started getting access to athletes, hanging out with guys you grew up watching?

Skee: It’s like a dream. These are the guys that you grew up dreaming of wanting to be like, and they have the biggest influence in the world, and now they’re hitting you up to work with them, and DJ parties, or come out and hang out and do cool things. It’s literally a dream come true. These guys have jerseys hanging on walls of my house and now they’re coming to me asking for stuff. It’s a crazy feeling.