Atlanta legend DJ Jaycee ‘always gravitated towards the record player’

ATLANTA – When it comes to the Mount Rushmore of DJs in Atlanta, Greg Street, DJ Nabs, DJ Jelly, DJ Toomp, DJ Drama, and DJ Jaycee are among the names often mentioned as among the best and who paved the way for future generations.

WSB Radio spoke to DJ Jaycee during Black Music Month about his life, career and the art of DJing.

DJ Jaycee, whose real name is Jayson Reid, said his undying love for music came from his family growing up in Detroit.

“I have had a love for records since I was a baby in the crib,” DJ Jaycee told WSB Radio. “There are pictures of me in the crib sleeping with records. There are pictures of me in a highchair holding records. I was always fascinated with records and that is where it started.”

Music is truly in his blood, he says.

My great grandmother had a record store in Detroit called C & J Records on Intervale & Northlawn until it closed in 1974-75.

“My mother said that before I started walking, I’d always gravitate towards the record player with the biggest grin on my face while watching her put records on,” DJ Jaycee said. “One day, she was in the bathroom and she thought someone broke in the house because music started playing out of nowhere but she came out and saw it was just me.”

To help keep a watchful eye on him, family members would generally put a young Jayson in charge of the music at gatherings & picnics. The passion and his dedication he showed to this early on would pay dividends years later.

“Moving to Clarkston, Georgia was a huge culture shock because I remember leaving Detroit in a U-Haul on a freezing cold snowy Christmas night and upon arrival here, it was 75 degrees outside and there were Confederate flags all over our apartment complex,” he continued.

“My father used to jog multiple laps daily around DeKalb Memorial Stadium’s track and one day while out, he found a clarinet that he gave to me. After figuring out how to play a few things on it by ear, I was encouraged to join the band at Indian Creek which is where I really learned to read music notes, measures and how songs were structured. I was learning this in the fifth grade with no idea that what I was learning was going to serve me in the future,” he said.

“I went back to Detroit to live with my Aunt Joyce while my parents were going through divorce and there was a guy at my school who would DJ the school dances in the gym. I’d compile a decent list of the songs in my notebook and then I would go to either Record Bar at Northland Mall or a neighborhood spot off 7 Mile and Heyden called Professionals Records & Tapes to locate some of these joints,” he said.

He started accumulating records, but says he didn’t have equipment like the guy at school.

“All I had was my aunt’s Detroit Public Schools record player and a General Electric boom box that had a very good pause button on it and that’s how I first started trying to emulate what I saw the DJ at my school doing.”

When he returned to Atlanta, he lived in Decatur where he attended Columbia High School with fellow classmates Sol Messiah and Spearhead X. He said Spearhead X founded Coalition DJ’s. DJ Jaycee was first exposed to mixtapes by The J-Team, a popular DJ crew in the city which he later became a member of.

While working at The Athlete’s Foot inside of Rio Mall in Atlanta, he befriended a guy named Zearrious who told him of a Sunday night radio show called “Rhythm & Vibes” that played nothing but hip-hop,” said Jaycee. “One night I heard the hosts Randall & Talib say they were looking for DJs to contribute mixes to the show. I sent one in, they liked it, aired it and then more opportunities to spin on the radio started happening.

He had two turntables, speakers, a mixer plus multiple crates of records and everything he played that I took a personal liking to.

“He told me of a radio station called Georgia 88.5 Rhythm and Vibes that played nothing but hip-hop,” said DJ Jaycee. “I heard the host Randall Moore say they were looking for DJs and to send a 15-20 minute mix to the station. He liked it.”

Then, he began to earn more opportunities in his career.

“At one point I was regularly spinning on four different college & community radio stations. 88.5 (WRAS), 89.3 (WRFG), 90.5 (WUOG-Athens), and 91.1 (WREK),” he said. “I had that under my belt as well as rocking at clubs like The Warehouse, Velvet, Flava, and a few others before DJ Nabs invited me to do a live set on V-103.”

DJ Nabs was the So So Def DJ at the time. Whenever he was on the road with Xscape and Da Brat, he would let DJ Jaycee fill in for him.

“This is how I got my foot in the door. I would fill in on occasions,” DJ Jaycee said.

He once made a tape with a personality named Tasha Love that they submitted to Hot 97.5 [currently Hot 107.9]. The program director at the time said it was “wack.”

During the summer of 1996, Jaycee got a call from V-103′s Music Director Rajeeyah Shabazz who said she loved his mixing and wanted to hire him at V-103, but at the time station mixers weren’t being paid from radio at that time. Confident in his skillset, he accepted the job and it led to plenty of paid dates at some of the legendary Atlanta nightclubs throughout the city.

Greg Street took him under his wing and taught him how to properly format his “turntablist style for commercial radio consumption,” he said.

“I learned a variety of radio lessons from Greg and I always give him the utmost respect for teaching me the music programming that I still utilize to this very day,” Jaycee said.

In September 2000, he began touring the world with Ludacris as his official tour DJ for 11 years. The two were introduced when Ludacris was Chaka Zulu’s intern at Hot 97.5 before he was known as Chris Lova Lova.

“He said that he remembered hearing me on the radio at 88.5 and he quoted a specific mix I did which let me know he actually listened to what I did on the air,” Jaycee said.

Over the next few years, Jaycee frequently saw Chris hosting a few of the same spots he was spinning at in the city. “He saw firsthand that in addition to doing all kinds of “turntablist” routines I can actually rock parties,” Jaycee said.

DJ Jaycee recalled Ludacris celebrating his “Back for the First Time” album release party at Earwax Records in Atlanta.

“I remember him asking what I thought his follow up single to “What’s Your Fantasy” should be,” Jaycee said. “I told him “Southern Hospitality” because to me that Neptunes produced track sounded completely different from everything else that was out at the time. Once that hit, we began doing more shows in other regions of the country as well as shows overseas which was a great experience, especially with me being a music lover,” he said.

They used to perform at nightclubs in Atlanta and throughout the south before they started getting shows in other parts of the country.

“We did the Howard University Homecoming, shows in Philly, Buffalo, Boston, New York, Providence, and all over the place,” he said.

Jaycee still does radio and you can listen to him every Thursday on Majic 107.5 during “The 4th Quarter Mix” during the “Ryan Cameron Uncensored” show as well as twice every Saturday on Classix 102.9 at Noon and 9 p.m. rocking classics of all his favorite genres.

“It’s an honor and a privilege to be back on the air playing the music I truly love most. I started the year off rocking a party with D-Nice in Hollywood and events like Tom Joyner’s Fantastic Voyage Cruise and I’ll be doing more this year,” he said. ”For a while, I was kind of lost but now I do some of the clearest and most purposeful thinking I’ve ever done because I’m surrounded by people who want me to grow into who and what they know I’m capable of. Truly grateful for everyone who has helped me on this journey and all who continue to support.”

You can catch Jaycee at a few venues in the metro Atlanta are including Red Light Cafe, Bamboo, and Okay Anny’s inside of Politan Row in Sandy Springs as well as https://twitch.tv/djjayceeatl.

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