Without them, Hip hop wouldn’t exist. Their ability to fuse genres and seamlessly scratch through a set to create beautiful music is remarkable and necessary for innovation and evolution. Their acute ear for the multifaceted musical abyss makes Haley Joel Osment in the Sixth Sense look pedestrian. I’m talking about the face behind the face. I’m talking about DJs.
ZeusWolf took a break from shootin’ the shit with rappers and pivoted to explore the other side of the music coin. We had the distinct pleasure of speaking with one of Chicago’s preeminent DJs, Boi Jeanius, over the phone to gain insight through his experienced perspective. I for one am ecstatic and grateful that we had the opportunity to chop it up with the turntable specialist because, admittedly, I’m not very well versed with the art of DJing. Boi Jeanius did more than educate me—he opened my eyes to the craft’s importance and value in the music world that I love so much.
Boi Jeanius is a genuine student of music. The 27-year old’s DJing journey—one that started when he was 13—is deeply rooted in experience and appreciation for iconic musical figures. He loves Biggie; he loves Michael Jackson; he is not pigeonholed to any genre. His mother’s eclectic vinyl collection was a massive inspiration for his boundary-less music approach and provided the framework for his current diverse pallet of songs. “I didn’t know what genres were—I just knew music”. Boi Jeanius never lost sight of this genre-bending mindset and has injected it into every one of his sets. It’s become his staple; it’s what his fans expect.
“Performing is the ultimate high,” Boi Jeanius said with a palpable passion. He loves every part of it: The curation process; strategizing where to mix-in certain verses; watching the crowd react to his work. Performing is his pure bliss. Just like one must prep for their public speaking class’ final speech, Boi Jeanius spends hours prepping for his shows. He meticulously crafts his sets to ensure a flawless execution in order to best represent himself and DJs at large—he deeply cares about the art. Listening to a Boi Jeanius set is a journey—he will start with a Simon and Garfunkel song and before you know it you’re bobbing your head to Pete Rock and CL Smooth’s “They Reminisce Over You” and you’re left wondering, “Wait, how did I get here again?” Boi Jeanius is just that good. Yes, the Jeanius loves DJing shows and parties, but his fiery passion is best manifested through competition.
When describing DJ battles, he snarled, “It’s just the B-Boy in me…the goal is to be the best…if we DJ, I’m going to make sure I’m the coldest; I don’t give a fuck about you.” Don’t get it twisted, Boi Jeanius is an incredibly nice guy, but when you step toe-to-toe with him, you better bring you best. He sure will. One of his biggest DJ battle victories happened at the 2015 RedBull Thre3style Chicago Regional competition—a high-energy set marked by a funky collection of jams and flawless mixing. He is competing again this year in the national competition and it is a massive honor: It’s the largest DJ battle in the country where the nation’s top-six DJs—all previous regional winners—go head-to-head to see who the coldest mixer is. I assume Michael Jackson will make an appearance in Boi Jeanius’ set. I also assume he will go for every DJ’s jugular. It’s funny though: Through honing his craft and striving for his DJ potential, he discovered a new passion along the way.
Jam Master Jay started the Scratch DJ Academy in New York for one main reason: Teach people how to DJ outside of a manual’s instruction; the free-flowing way that it should be taught. They stress the importance of not adhering to cookie-cutter methods of mixing and encourage maximum creativity. Boi Jeanius identifies with this mentality. He’s been teaching at Chicago’s DJ Academy (their main locations are in Miami, LA, New York, Philly, Chicago and Atlanta) for the past three-years and it has been the most rewarding experience for him. I was smiling listening to him speak with such passion about educating these kids in the craft that he’s devoted his life to. It just makes sense: He cares so much about the advancement of DJing and propelling it forward that he wants to be responsible for molding its future. Jeanius takes a special shine to the kids who display the same qualities as he did when he was beginning: Eagerness, curiosity and an unquenchable thirst to learn. These are similar qualities that Boi Jeanius’ mentor saw in him.
Timbuck2 was revered as one of Chicago’s best DJs (and quite possibly in general). He’s worked with some of the game’s brightest stars including, but not limited to: Common, Lupe and Kanye West. He left us way too young—he passed away in 2015 at 34 after a bout with cancer. Kanye showed the DJ love on “Facts” off The Life of Pablo with the bar, “So let’s celebrate the life of Tumbuck2, Timbuck2, Timbuck2”. Boi Jeanius wasn’t only lucky enough to have known Tim, he was fortunate enough to be mentored by him. When they first met, Timbuck2 saw that unteachable quality in Boi Jeanius: Passion. He also quickly realized Jeanius’ immaculate skills and wanted to guide him towards his potential. And as any great teacher does, Tim challenged Jeanius and pushed him to become a better DJ, to become a better person. He also introduced Boi Jeanius to Mano, which eventually lead to Jeanius’ acceptance into Treated Crew—an incredible honor for any rapper, let alone DJ. When describing Timbuck2, Boi Jeanius laughed and simply said, “Ultimately, he was just a B-Boy.”
The future of DJing looks bright with guys like Boi Jeanius at the helm. It’s pretty amazing: For something that I knew very little about, I now have a sincere appreciation for. It’s inspiring to speak with someone who is so passionate about their discipline and who is willing to dedicate themselves completely. Regardless of what you’re pursuing in life, listen to our conversation with Boi Jeanius and I guarantee you’ll feel motivated to hunt that dream; to make that dream tangible.
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