Next to James Brown, DJ Jubilee may be one of the hardest working men in show business. The local rapper, born and raised in the St. Thomas Housing Development, currently holds down more than five jobs, including bus attendant, teacher’s assistant, coach and deejay. And in his free time he’s recording albums and on the road performing. What keeps him going?
“I love what I’m doing,” says DJ Jubilee. He developed a love for music growing up in a family that was musically inclined. “My brother can play the drums, my baby brother can play the drums—he was in the high school band. My sister can sing. My mom can sing. My father also played the drums. It kinda brushed off on me.”
DJ Jubilee’s music career began in 1981 when he purchased his first stereo system. He started deejaying house parties using only one turntable and later joined a deejay group called The Fellas Deejay. The ten-member group purchased some state of the art equipment and collected pieces at Goodwill and wherever else they could find it.
“We started deejaying big gigs like block parties,” DJ recalls. “Back in the days there were four sets of deejays in the St. Thomas project. People would come from all over just to see what we were doing.”
DJ Jubilee and his crew threw parties at a gym in the St. Thomas attracting people from different parts of the city.
Says Jubilee, “We used to pay breakdancers to perform—different groups from different projects—and they would compete with the guys in our area. They would compete for a little cash or whatever.”
Striving to perfect his deejaying skills, DJ Jubilee followed other deejays around the city carefully studying their style and technique. His two favorites were Donald Ramsey and Slick Leo. ”The more I enjoyed watching them, the more I wanted to become a deejay. I would say to myself, ‘One day I’m gonna be like that. I just wanna rock a block party.’” DJ Jubilee graduated from house parties and parties at the gym to college fraternity and sorority parties. He traveled throughout the state working party after party, and his deejay business grew. DJ Jubilee took his first shot behind the mic thanks to the encouragement of his good friend, Rickey D.
“Rickey D. used to always say, ‘grab the mic, grab the mic.’” And so DJ Jubilee eventually grabbed the mic, but still had no intentions of becoming a rapper. He just had fun giving shout outs and chanting to the crowd and watching their reaction. Around that time he heard a demo tape of rapper T. Tucker whose hit record “Where They At” redefined the local rap scene with a new sound called bounce. DJ Jubilee was amazed at how fans responded to T. Tucker and his music.
“I followed him to see how he could take something just that simple [chants over beats] and get the whole crowd to react.”
DJ Jubilee began seeing that same kind of reaction when he chanted over music at dances at Walter L. Cohen Senior High School, and things just clicked. “When the people in the community started coming to me saying different things and wanting me to say it back to them (over the microphone), it was a catch for me. That’s when I knew it was a start for me.”
In 1992, DJ Jubilee, Rickey D and DJ Flava Flav made a demo tape that included chanting and the names of different dances like the Eddie Bauer, the Beanny Weanny and the Bogill. According to DJ Jubilee, DJ Flava Flav was selling bootleg copies, and people all around the city were playing it in their cars. DJ Jubilee realized he had to get into the studio and record the song before it lost its momentum. He ran into an old friend, Henry the Man (producer for Take Fo’ Records), and Earl Mackie, Jr. (President of Take Fo’ Records), and they eventually convinced DJ Jubilee to sign with their label. DJ Jubilee’s first release and big hit was “Do the Jubilee All.” His friend, Tyrone Jones, made up a dance, DJ Jubilee performed the dance, and his friend, Spot, came up with the saying “Do the Jubilee All.” Another friend, Legit (Anthony Garrison), created some of the lyrics to the song—”Trick, stop talking that it, and buy Jubilee his outfit…”
“We sold over 30,000 copies in one year,” says Jubilee. He followed that maxi-cassette with a full album called Do the Jubilee All and the Cartoon Krewe in 1995. The next year DJ Jubilee changed his style a little and released the EP 20 Years in the Jets. “It was a whole different scene from what I was used to. It was different because I started rapping (instead of chanting), and it wasn’t originally me. It made me think, ‘This is not me. Get back to doing what you were doing.’” So in the summer of 1996, DJ Jubilee did just that. He went back to his roots. He started deejaying again. That experience put him in touch with the streets and gave him the inspiration for his next release, a maxi-cassette called Gettin’ Ready, Gettin’ Ready Ready. The single of the same name was a big local hit. DJ Jubilee also appeared on Partners-N-Crime’s song “New Orleans Block Party” from their What’cha Wanna Do CD.
Throughout his career DJ Jubilee has managed to keep his music and his image clean. “I don’t use drugs. I don’t smoke weed. I don’t drink. I don’t gamble. I grew up around all that, I see it every day and I wouldn’t wanna live that life. It’s not me so that’s why I don’t rap about it.” As far as his image goes, DJ Jubilee takes his responsibility as a role model very seriously. “I’m out every day tellin’ kids who are on the streets sellin’ drugs—’You have a chance. You have a chance in life. Your chance is now. Go to school. Get your education.’”
Jubilee recently appeared at the 1998 Jazz Fest. It was his second time at the festival. His first appearance was in ’94, an experience he’ll never forget. “My first time performing at Jazz Fest I didn’t believe it ’til I saw it. Someone told me that they brought down 60 busloads of kids to come see me perform. When I stepped on stage it was amazing just to see the crowd. The crowd was huge. That’s when I knew my music was appreciated by people of all color, creed, race and sex. You could just see it on their faces. They were singing every word.”
Late last month, DJ Jubilee celebrated the release of his new CD Take It To The St. Thomas with a semi-formal affair at Bonaparte Place in the Quality Inn. It was a very classy event—DJ Jubilee and the rest of the Take Fo’ family were decked out in tuxedos. Music was provided by the Magnetic Band with a special guest performance by R&B singer Bobby Marchan. Family, friends and members of the local music industry were treated to delicious food by Simms Catering. Members of DaShaRa (Danielle Eugene and Rene Porche) gave the history of Take Fo’ Records, and a representative from City Councilman Oliver Thomas’ office presented DJ Jubilee and his crew with special proclamations. DJ Jubilee thanked everyone who supported him and was enthusiastic about the future of his career and Take Fo’ Records. Earl Mackie, Executive Director of Take Fo’ Records, and Henry Holden, Vice-President of Take Fo’ Records, are responsible for creating one of the city’s most successful rap labels and establishing careers for DJ Jubilee, Willie Puckett and others. DJ Jubilee’s Take It To The St. Thomas debuted at #61 on Billboard’s Top R&B albums chart for the week of May 9. At press time, it was at #80.