DJ Green Lantern Interview
|Artist:||DJ Green Lantern|
|Label:||Future Green Music|
|Next Project:||Grand Theft Auto IV Soundtrack (Out Now)|
|Twitter:||DJ Green Lantern on Twitter|
|Website:||DJ Green Lantern's Website|
Okay, so you’re a DJ. Well, what kind of DJ are you? Are you a club DJ who works gigs seven nights a week? Are you a tour DJ who backs an artist as they make their way from city to city? Are you a mixtape DJ who collects fresh new music and churns out product for the streets? Or maybe, just maybe, you are a disc jockey in its original form, working breaks and spinning records at a radio station.
Though it is rare to find a DJ who actually works all of the above angles, the Evil Genius, otherwise known as DJ Green Lantern, happily and impressively checks off each and every box. Currently finishing up work with Nas on the remaining Rock The Bells tour dates, the New York native will continue working with Mr. Escobar on his forthcoming fall tour, the Jones Music Experience.
As if that wasn’t enough, other endeavors include the recently-wrapped soundtrack for Grand Theft Auto IV, a forthcoming Pro-Obama mixtape with Russell Simmons, hosting duties on his Sirius Satellite radio show, and the executive production of rapper Uncle Murda’s Def Jam debut.
In an exclusive interview with DJBooth’s DJ “Z,” Green Lantern steps inside the booth to talk about touring with Nas and Jay-Z, the significance behind being asked to produce the soundtrack for Grand Theft Auto IV, why taking pictures with artists is frowned upon, and what five records he wouldn’t mind spinning for the rest of his life.
Listen to the Interview
DJ Green Lantern Interview Transcription
DJ Booth: What’s goin’ on, everybody? It’s your boy, ‘Z,’ doin’ it real big, and joinin’ me inside the DJ Booth is a man whose own work inside of a DJ booth has made his name renowned around the world. Please welcome the very talented DJ Green Lantern – how you doin’?
Green Lantern: I’m good, I’m good. How have you been?
DJ Booth: I’ve been pretty good, busy like yourself. You know, if I looked up the word “hustle” in a dictionary, which I haven’t done in many years, would I find your picture next to that word?
Green Lantern: Yes - in a blur, as I’m goin’ by.
DJ Booth: [laughs] Between touring and producing new mixtapes, hosting a satellite radio show, do you find time to sleep?
Green Lantern: Yeah, I sleep. I find time to do that. Like, today’s actually a day off, so I’m in Phoenix with my family, my kids and all that. I definitely find time; you’ve got to find time for yourself or else you’ll go crazy. But I love my job, I love what I do, it’s a blessing to do what I do.
DJ Booth: Well, when you aren’t in Phoenix, relaxing on a mini vacation with your family, when you’re working, on average, how many hours a night do you get of sleep?
Green Lantern: Good question… sometimes it’s three, sometimes it’s four, sometimes it’s five. It rarely goes past five.
DJ Booth: With all the projects that you have your hands on, how do you go about prioritizing which one needs to get done and when? Is it strictly deadline-based, or do you flip a coin? What do you do?
Green Lantern: Good question, man, very good question. Deadlines, what can wait, what needs to come first. You kind of weigh it out, see what works, see what you can do and see what you might push back a little bit, and then jump in and make it happen.
DJ Booth: At this point in your career you’ve been juggling so many things for so long. Do you feel like you’ve mastered the art of prioritizing, or is it still a work in progress?
Green Lantern: [laughs] It’s definitely still a work in progress! Oh, man… But I think I’m getting better, you know?
DJ Booth: That’s what you gotta do: just gotta get better at it. I agree. While DJing for Nas at the Rock the Bells tour, you’ve been around arguably the world’s best living hip hop talent. At this point in your career, do you still have to hold back the fan inside you from jumping out?
Green Lantern: No, I think I got over the whole fan thing a while ago. Bein’ around various artists, [you start] to see people as regular people, ‘cause that’s really what they are. I can’t diminish that fan type of stuff; there’s definitely moments when you realize, “Wow! I’m sittin’ at a room backstage at Rock the Bells at Jones Beach, and me and Nas and Jay-Z are goin’ over the show – ‘cause Jay’s the surprise guest – and Beyonce’s sittin’ right there, and we’re kickin’ it, and Busta Rhymes walks in, and everybody’s kickin’ it with him for a couple seconds, and everybody just chills for a second. I don’t know, for whatever reason it’s kinda just like, “Hold on – this is a cool moment right here.” Normally, I just get caught up in [what we’re actually doing], but you don’t normally see all these people in the same room together.
DJ Booth: Exactly – take a mental Polaroid.
Green Lantern: Yeah, that’s the other thing: soon as you take that camera out, it’s like, “Boo! Get outta here!” [laughs] It’s gotta be super cool, like, this is cool, but I’m not gonna take a flick.
DJ Booth: You stole my thunder for the next question, which was a lead-in to Jay, who joined Nas on stage at the New York stop for the Rock the Bells. You’re spinning behind them, they’re performing Black Republicans, the crowd is going insane – do you find it hard to concentrate on making sure you spin the record, making sure your jaw doesn’t drop in awe of what’s going on in front of you?
Green Lantern: Nah, not at all, man – that’s the first priority, is watching what’s going on in front of you, which is the artist. ‘Cause you’re in control of the music, but they are always in control of the show. What I mean by that is that is, you get cues thrown to you, like, when to end Success, ‘cause Jay came out to Success, and he was like, “Play Success, I’ll rap until the first time I say, ‘Let this b*tch breathe.’” Boom, this happens, but what we didn’t discuss is where we was gonna cut off Black Republicans, which was very normal for Jay; he’ll just turn around and give you the hand signal like, “All right, cut the beat off.” If I’m sittin’ there lookin’ at the crowd or lookin’ at something else, I’m not gonna see that, so you always have to be focused. From my time DJing with Jay, he throws so many cues at you, like, “Cut the beat off,” or he’ll do this thing where he kind of winds his finger up like, “Keep it movin’, don’t cut off the sound,” so the crowd gets into it, ‘cause maybe the crowd is a little light that night or whatever. I’ve just kind of grown accustomed to keepin’ an eye on the main artist.
DJ Booth: So you’re completely in your element, you’re on, you don’t have to worry about anything distracting you…
Green Lantern: You can’t. People will be like, “Oh, did you see them people up top?” I’m like, “I didn’t see nobody! I saw like the first three rows, that’s it!”
DJ Booth: Well, your credentials speak for themselves, and you’ve parlayed them into a plethora of other entrepreneurial activities, including Rockstar Games reaching out to you and saying, “We want you to produce the soundtrack to Grand Theft Auto IV.” What was the first thing that ran through your head when you got offered that amazing opportunity?
Green Lantern: Man… I don’t know, maybe, “I made it. I’ve arrived, it’s paid off, I’m here.” Just, like… [sighs] It’s that for two seconds, but then it immediately goes into, “I need to make this as big as possible, I need to destroy this in a great way, and I need to make this crazy.” And at the same time, like you said, being an entrepreneur, promoting stuff that I’m involved with in that.
DJ Booth: When you talk to other DJs about all the accomplishments in your career, do they ever thank you? Because things like this are kind of landmark. Do you feel like you’ve gotten props for what you’ve been able to accomplish?
Green Lantern: Ah… I mean, you know-
DJ Booth: Is that a “no?”
Green Lantern: I get some cool, humble DJs, but, there’s a lot of big-head dudes out there, too, that don’t want to give you them props. But at the same time, as much as I’m doin’ what I’m doin’ right now, there’s people that came before me, that paved the way, so I’m never lookin’ at things like, “Oh, it’s just me!” and all of this. I recently just interviewed Kid Capri and DJ Scratch for Karmaloop TV when we were backstage at Rock the Bells in Boston. That’s on the Internet. They kinda chopped up the interview, but I think there’s a couple parts that didn’t make it in, where I was tellin’ them like, “Yo, y’all really paved the way for me, y’all grindin’ and goin’ over those certain hurdles that y’all had to go over, and breakin’ those doors down and them barriers down of everything that you guys did to pave the way for somebody like me.” Kid Capri, for example, just took the word “DJ” to a whole ‘nother level. I’ve never wanted to be like, “Yeah, I did this, I did that, I did this and I did that.” I just really lived up to the expectations there, after guys like them paved the way.
DJ Booth: Expectations and what the definition of a disc jockey is have definitely changed, so here in 2008, knowing the hard work, the dedication, and the loyalty that a DJ must always give, what do you think it has turned into?
Green Lantern: Man, it’s so many different things… just from the fact that there’s so many different kinds of DJs, from your mixtape DJ to your club DJ to a touring DJ to radio DJ. I just happen to be-
DJ Booth: All of the above!
Green Lantern: [laughs] All of those things. But there’s people that specify, like, one of those categories, you know what I’m sayin’? There’s a super club DJ that all he does every day is different clubs, and then there’s the show DJ, and all he does is [work] for a certain artist, and then there’s a mixtape guy, and that’s what he does all day. But they’re all DJs, know what I’m sayin’? So I think the loyalty comes down to just being the best that you can be in whatever you’re doing.
DJ Booth: Such a broad spectrum. It’s hard to pinpoint it – you’re absolutely right.
Green Lantern: I won’t get into that argument about who’s a real DJ, who’s a fake DJ, does Serrato make it easier for you; you’ve still got to be ill, you still gotta be nice. So there could be a million iPod DJs, but the cream is always gonna rise to the top.
DJ Booth: Having already accomplished so much at this point in your career, what are a few of your goals for the future? Do you think about, “Okay, what would I like to accomplish five years from now, since I’ve already done so much?”
Green Lantern: I do that lightly, because so much stuff just kinda falls off trees that you’ve got to have one hand free to catch that, and that’s gonna really guide what you’re gonna do in the next six months.
DJ Booth: Okay, we’re gonna have some fun here. Let’s get hypothetical; let’s say that you swapped places with Bill Murray’s character in Groundhog Day, which means you are forced to relive that same day of your life over and over again through eternity. If you just so happened to be spinning a five-record gig that day, what are the five songs you would not mind playing over and over in every set for the rest of your life, because your day would be the same, every day? Five songs – what’s in the mix?
Green Lantern: Notorious B.I.G., Hypnotize, Michael Jackson, Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough... I’m gonna keep it hip hop – let’s say Eric B for President, that’s three, then I’ll say Jay-Z, Jigga My N*gga, that’s four, then I’ll say 2pac and Dre, California Love. Those are super big reaction records; I wouldn’t mind playing them.
DJ Booth: Well, I’ll tell you what: I wouldn’t mind hearing those five over and over again, every day for the rest of my life. My man, I appreciate your time greatly. Give everyone a website, so they can find out more about the upcoming Nas tour and everything you got goin’ on.
Green Lantern: djgreenlantern.tv is where you can find me.
DJ Booth: Thank you so much for joinin’ me inside the DJ Booth. I wish you nothing but the best of luck on all of your upcoming endeavors, my man.
Green Lantern: Thanks, I appreciate you.