Here are a few excerpts:
Who is DJ Bonics?
Oooh I’m from Pennsylvania, born in Philly. I met [Wiz Khalifa] in Pittsburgh and I’m just a kid who is pushing passion through music. You know what I mean? I’m connecting people through that, man, and DJ-ing is the vehicle.
Honestly, I’m just a guy trying to impact the world and show people that — this sounds generic — but that they can do whatever they want. It’s really so true when you find that stride.
How did you land in the Twin Cities?
It was a time in my career where I had just accepted a radio job in Portland, Oregon. It wasn’t what it was supposed to be. I took a chance and I quit. I had been staying in-touch with Mr. Peter Parker [another Go 95.3 host] since I had met him. When I first came to Minnesota I didn’t know what it was about. I was holding onto Portland because it was a “cool” city — weed, Nike, it’s cool, Portland, aah. What [Go 95.3] represents is what brought me here, nothing about Minnesota did. But coming here and living here was the best decision of my life — I honestly can’t think of a better place to live at this moment.
Creatively, how are the Twin Cities and Pittsburgh similar?
You know, the similarity is that they both know they aren’t New York or L.A., but have swag of “We are Minneapolis,” “We are Pittsburgh.” There’s sort of an underdog setting.
But really, it’s hard to call it an underdog when you have Prince, Bob Dylan and Atmosphere. No one would pick [the Twin Cities or Pittsburgh] as the first place they’d live, but I guarantee you that if they knew they’d pick them as their last place to live.
What’s your take on the Minneapolis scene?
Well, because of Prince and because of Atmosphere, most local artists take it really seriously — way more so than I’ve seen in other cities. Here they’re really about “don’t rap over” and putting a show on. People still look for the DJ to do a little somethin’, and I think that was all built from that Atmosphere culture. And I love that about Minneapolis.
If we’re talking local talent, we have to talk Soundset. What’s special about it?
Man, this year was the first time I got to go [without performing there]. First of all, the thing that’s special is that you can’t have that many people in one place in other cities pushing hip-hop … and everyone is really polite. At all these other festivals around the countries it’s like a free-for-all. Here it’s about the people first. It’s a delight to be there. No one is an asshole.
And then you get the best of both worlds. You get the woke hip-hop and then like the Migos. I like that there’s that balance. On top of that, the mad looks they give people locally — I can’t say that enough. Atmosphere and Migos are on stage at the same time. What could be better than that? It’s a dope festival. I really think that Minnesota has European festival culture. People are there for the music and a good time.
You didn’t grow up here, but if someone asks for a place to visit what’s your recommendation?
You could say Paisley Park, but really I’d just say the lakes. Here I can see downtown from the lake. I can also, say, kayak and see downtown. You feel? That integration of this big city and all the natural shit in the midst of it all, I think that’s a beautiful thing.
So you knew Wiz when he was [15-years-old]. What’s it been like to see him go through his stages to stardom?
It’s awesome to see someone be comfortable in what they’re delivering. … It’s been really cool to see him develop albums, and some are better than others. But still, he keeps the same team on his current projects — from the very first until now, c’mon. That’s very very rare in hip-hop.
Pittsburgh brought up two artists that defined our generation: Wiz Khalifa and Mac Miller. How was the city able to cultivate that?
A lot of it is timing. The Kendricks and the Coles were just starting out. Wiz was almost before all of that. Even Drake. Like, Wiz was their favorite rapper — they don’t want to admit it because it was the same age. Wiz came out of the shitty part of rap era — when we were doing Soulja Boys and wearing huge white tees. There was this void, and Wiz and Mac filled the void of crunk era rap, [instead turning it into] an era of “I smoke weed and am expressive with good fashion.” Wiz and Mac were ahead of the curve.
You found your love for DJing in college. What can you say about making the most of your passion?
A couple things. First you have to enjoy it. People asked how I got into DJing … because I like it. People say they want to DJ to be famous or be a photographer to get backstage and that’s the problem. I like this shit, that’s the main ingredient. The rest falls from there — if you like it, everything is pure and authentic. Then, once you’re good at something, you have confidence. When you graduate, employers will dictate if you have a job or not. But you have a skill set no one can take away from you. That’s the second ingredient: to have a skill that no one can dictate or take away. When you’re good, you’re undeniable.
You need ego to get into it, and then once you’re in, lose that ego to survive it. You’re not gonna get your way, but how you react will determine your longevity. But — add this — no risk no reward. Wiz said this recently: “If you don’t take a risk, you’ll never be heard.”