Souls of Hip Hop

Christie Zee

October 20, 2020 Christie Zee Season 1 Episode 10
Souls of Hip Hop
Christie Zee
Chapters
0:58
How would your parents describe what you do?
2:11
Growing up in Western Pennsylvania
5:59
Life of an event promoter
8:02
Becoming the CEO of DMC USA
11:35
Technology in Turntablism
17:00
Organizing events during the pandemic
22:50
Being a female in Hip Hop
25:35
Tools of War Park Jams
31:05
Influence of NYC
34:15
Entrepreneurship
36:58
Cookie Business
42:30
DJ Battles
51:15
Navigating the industry as a female Muslim
59:50
What is Hip Hop to you?
Souls of Hip Hop
Christie Zee
Oct 20, 2020 Season 1 Episode 10
Christie Zee

In our 10th episode, we talk to Christie Zee, the CEO of DMC USA, the prestigious and longest running DJ championship, as well as the co-founder of Tools of War park jams, a publicist, and event coordinator.
 
We chat about her passion for turntablism, the challenges of navigating the industry as a white female Muslim, saying no to hip hop legends, baking cookies and the importance of showing up.
 
You can find Christie at:
www.instagram.com/dmcusadjbattles/
www.dmcdjchamps.com
www.youtube.com/theOfficialDMCUSA
www.facebook.com/ChristieZeee 

Support the show (https://www.buymeacoffee.com/soulsofhiphop)

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

In our 10th episode, we talk to Christie Zee, the CEO of DMC USA, the prestigious and longest running DJ championship, as well as the co-founder of Tools of War park jams, a publicist, and event coordinator.
 
We chat about her passion for turntablism, the challenges of navigating the industry as a white female Muslim, saying no to hip hop legends, baking cookies and the importance of showing up.
 
You can find Christie at:
www.instagram.com/dmcusadjbattles/
www.dmcdjchamps.com
www.youtube.com/theOfficialDMCUSA
www.facebook.com/ChristieZeee 

Support the show (https://www.buymeacoffee.com/soulsofhiphop)

Unknown:

Welcome to Souls of Hip Hop, a podcast for hip hop heads that aims to bring inspiring people together to share their wisdom, passion, and unique stories. My name is Candy. And I am DJ Razor Cut. And together we are Soulidarity, connecting souls organically. On today's show, we welcome Christie Zee. She is the CEO of DMC USA, the most prestigious and longest running DJ championship, as well as the co-founder of Tools of War Park jams, a publicist and event coordinator. Welcome to Souls of hip hop. Thanks for inviting me, this really is my first Zoom interview ever and the first interview I've done during this pandemic, and it really is refreshing and you know, it's nice. I was happy that it was you that reached out. Of course, we're happy to have you join us. So let's get into it. How would your parents describe what you do? They're happy that I'm entrepreneurial. I don't know if they would be able to describe it besides Christie throws DJ battles and park jams. That's probably what they would say. Because who are they going to talk to that knows what they're talking about? My mom likes to use the word turntablism sometimes to her friends. It's hysterical. They don't know. When did you know that turntablism was your passion? I always liked the DJ element. And considering that the pioneers, the founding fathers of hip hop are the DJs you know, you basically start off, but sadly my first intro to hip hop was the Sugar Hill gang, which I really despise, because I wish it had been the Cold Crush brothers or somebody else. But they were the gateway drug that was necessary for me to learn more. And so as the music developed, you start hearing scratches and stuff. And I remember hearing UTFO's Mix Master Ice scratching and I was like, wow, this is some extra progressive stuff. And then I met DJ Swamp sometime in the mid 90s, early 90s. And he explained to me about DMC and turntablism and got me completely interested in that. And I've loved it ever since How was it growing up in western Pennsylvania? It was very country. So you know, and very divided racially. So it wasn't, nobody was really excited about me and my best friend Rhonda being into hip hop, like we were the only two white girls we knew that were into it. We just didn't know that other girls didn't go to national record Mart to buy records. We didn't know that other girls didn't beg their moms to drive them to the mall to see B-boys. We just were in our own little world. And you know, we put ourselves in a lot of awkward situations. But at the same time, we immersed ourselves in the culture and learned about other people and met a whole lot of different people. So it was good. It You know, sometimes some bumps in the road and some hurt feelings, but in general like it's just what we loved. We had to do it. You had to go out and look for it. Did you have any mentors? Actually, no, that's the crazy part - outside of DJ Swamp way later in the game getting me into what battle DJ was. Rhonda and I really just had like friends that maybe they had a mixtape that we would beg them for to copy. We listened to the one hip hop show on the radio with sly jock late at night and try to tape it. You actually had to work to get hip hop then it's not like that now where it's so easy and we had to actually like work hard and find it and it was like kind of cool if you had knowledge or you had a mixtape no one else had or you know, we just didn't know any other way. So it's just strange that you know, other people do have mentors and stuff I wish I had. I have friends that did stuff like what I do now they did before me like Rosie from Tommy Boy. She is the president of Tommy Boy right now. And she ran DMC DJ battles in the USA before me, or cool lady blue, who is one of the early hip hop promoters downtown who brought down Bambaataa, Jazzy J and other top DJs to clubs downtown. Those are women I look up to as well as Martha Cooper, the photographer who just put herself in, regardless of whether people wondered, or they're not either, I guess. But she was accepted. Like she contributed to the culture. And I think that's what's important. If you contribute, then that's everything. You're into photography as well ... I try. Most of the time it's out of necessity because if no one else is documenting your event, you have to. Otherwise it just looks like you're lazy. Like if you do an event, you have no proof that it happened. You have no proof that you put banners up. no proof that it even happened. That's so tragic, especially in the culture. But yeah, I want to be like Martha when I grow up seriously. She is definitely a legend, an inspiration for sure. What inspired you or how did you get the courage to throw your first events? Oh man, I was inspired. Actually, I believe it was 95. And I went to New York for the first time with DJ Swamp and his friends. And we went to the Rock Steady Anniversary. And it was so inspiring in a lot of ways. And then I think I watched Wildstyle the movie. And so when I got back to Pittsburgh, I threw some parties in little places. And one of my friends said, it reminded him of parties from the Lower East Side. So I was flattered, but I really was trying to replicate kind of a Wildstyle party without having any mentors. Just going by what you were playing, you were like, this feels like what I felt. Yeah, I would ask DJ Swamp to drive in from Cleveland to DJ for me. So I thought I had that covered for who was my favorite DJ and then you know, invite B-boys and different other people graff writers. Pittsburgh has a really kind of a small scene. Everybody knows each other. Both of us are small time event promoters, but we know how stressful that job is. Did your background in psychology and your work in mental health help you in your career as an event promoter? I don't think so. I you know, I think about the money and time I spent towards a master's degree in psychology, but I don't want to be forced to use psychology. like it feels like manipulative. You know what I mean? With people that don't know you're using psychology on them, so I don't think that's good. So I pretty much just, you know, just try to use common sense and be patient. But I learned restraints with juvenile delinquents. I never had to restrain anybody at my Park jams or DJ battles, you know, like, really don't, but yeah, it's wild to have that degree and then Excel is something that you didn't go to school for. I feel that, I feel that hard. I feel like you shouldn't be allowed to decide at 17 or 18, what you think you're going to do for the rest of your life as a career? Like, that's crazy. We're not even allowed to drink yet. And we're deciding what our life career is going to be. That's crazy. I don't think they should do that. I mean, they're asking them at five years old, what do you want to be? Yeah. Well, the good thing is you can change what you want to be. But no one ever tells you that early. Did you see America's Funniest Home Videos where they asked kids what they wanted to be when they grew up. And one kid started crying, and another kid said he wanted to be a vampire bat. And I just thought he was so awesome. Yeah, I agree with that. I don't think that the option of changing your mind was something that was taught or that you think is possible in younger years. I was very discouraged in psychology. Like, I decided I was going to be a sex therapist. And my mentor told me to not jump to decisions and all this blah, blah, just shut me down. Not let me be great. Well, you found your avenue to be great in. without having to be a sex therapist. One of those avenues is the DMC - the legendary DJ battle. Can you give us a bit of the history of how you got into it and what led you to become the CEO for the USA. I was in New York. I was working as a mental health counselor in the Bronx with my so called degree. And my friend DJ Swamp, he said he wanted to introduce me to the owner of DMC Tony Prince, who was in from London. So Tony, and I met for dinner. And we talked about whatever, whatever I thought I could do with the DJ battles. And he hired me part time mostly to sell. To call stores and just sell merchandise. And so I secretly suspect that I was put on as a salesperson, and they threw the DJ battle at me as a bonus, like, Oh, you could do this, but we really want you to sell. And so I out-did myself selling in the first three years I was at DMC as an employee. And then I had disagreements with management, shall we say? And so I left in 2000, after DJ Craze won his third world title, you know, it was kind of like not feeling anything about DMC for the time off. And then a sponsor, a needle company named Ortofon, said, Hey, we want to throw your name into DMC, USA, we want you to take it over. By that time, I was like a little, you know, I was like, Okay, I'm over whatever I was angry about. And then it was understood that if I came in, the deal was, I basically owned DMC USA, whereas I never thought that would happen before, because it's a family owned business out of London, so I didn't think I would ever have a part of it. So basically, I'm the branch manager of DMC, USA since 2008. And, you know, I have more control in the battles and what happens and it's really nice. I do miss having a salary sometimes, but it's very nice to have the control and, you know, be able to take the battle where I want to in the US. and where's that? Where do you want to take it to in the future? What is your vision? Well, it's wild, because when I took it over in the late 90s, it was like, basically the height of turntablism. And it was a time where our DMC World Finals in New York was on MTV and BET, like we were covered by majors, we were covered by the New York Times, paper magazine. Now you come back in 2008, a lot of record stores are gone. All the stores I had accounts with are gone. Except for some of the corporate ones. There's no so called hip hop publications, or really rap magazines that aren't interested in any of the other elements. So whoever's anybody's DJ, you would know it. So it's really challenging, because you basically have to make your own press, you have to cover your own battles, because no one else is going to. And it's really rare to be featured in any kind of publicity. So it really is challenging to get turntablism back to the light that it used to have in the late 90s, early 2000s. So we're still trying to figure that out. And also, you know, in some cases, DJs are very, very, very technical. And in some cases, there's a lot of not funky sets happening. And I think if things were funkier maybe more people would listen to turntable lists, and bap DJ battles. So it's a struggle, because I can't make the sets, I can only encourage whatever. So there's only so much I could do, but to set up a platform for others to be great. And hope a super funky technical DJ comes along, that blows everybody out of the water. How has technology affected turntablism? It shouldn't have hurt. Like it should only progress and make easier what DJs found more difficult back in the days. So if you use the right, it should only let you go farther yet. Like right now DJs have access through digital vinyl systems like Serato, they can have any discs from anything to use in a battle. And I find like the disses are just not that funny or interesting anymore, like but they have so much at their hands like you don't have to go looking for that record and buy several of them in case one gets scratched. And that's in your set. You know, like it's so much easier. And I don't understand why DJs aren't taking advantage of it. It's fascinating. I will say this though the DJs is talked about before there was battle videos are before anybody could really see what each other was doing. A lot of things were innovated. So a DJ from the Bay Area said that he heard the DJs from the Miami based DJs. And it sounded like they were scratching really fast. But they couldn't see what they were doing. So the Bay Area DJ scratched really fast. But they didn't know that the Miami DJs were speeding that up in production. So like, there's a lot of innovations that happen just from not being able to see. So I think like it would be nice to be able to have DJ sets that you could actually listen to that were musical. Like, if you ever see the album, return to the DJs Volume One through whatever, their turntablists songs. And they're just so great. You could listen to them. We even sang along with them at DMC in the 90s. It would be nice if we could get back to that again with like, clever, clever samples and so much extra stuff and all those guys did it without the new technology. Go figure. What are your thoughts on major corporations coming in? And specifically, I'm thinking of RedBull 3Style. RedBull 3Style, what's that? The only danger of corporate DJ battles, you know, because I'm happy for anybody who wins. I'm happy for anybody who advances on it's a very different battle. It's a it's a party rocking competition is what that one is exactly. It's not even close to what DMC is. But the thing is the DMC is not owned by any corporations like we have sponsors, but they don't own us. So the danger for any battle that's run by a corporation is that when the corporation decides that they're no longer interested in throwing that battle, the battles gone. Like look at the Guitar Center battles, look at master the mix that was just on TV, and it was sponsored by Smirnoff. But that's not there anymore. Three style has existed and it's really great because Redbull has its own money to sponsor itself. Like that's amazing. I can't even imagine having to battle where the sponsorship was like that. The budget was that great. You know, that would be awesome, but I'm happy for whoever succeeds DJ wise within the battle. I'm just not real crazy. Honestly, I'm not real crazy about that battle, saying that it's the biggest in the world when it just came around in the 2000s. Like, I feel that it negates the history of all the battles. It doesn't even have to be DMC; new music seminar was there There's other there's Zulu Nation, DJ battles is just something I know it's probably corporate marketing. But I just don't think that that's authentic to say you're the biggest battle in the world when you basically came around rather recently, or at least they may, okay, they could say, if anything, I would be happy. And I'll just say this publicly, if they said they were the biggest party rocking competition in the world, that would sit well with me, the biggest DJ battle in the world I don't agree with, I'll say this for Red Bull, though. One year, Herb magazine contacted me, and I'm not one of their journalist, I wasn't even a journalist. They contacted me to go to South Africa on Red Bulls tab, basically, to cover the BC One for herbs. So basically, I got a free trip to South Africa, flight, hotel, whatever, and met a ton of great people in Johannesburg and Soweto. Like, sometimes that money, you know, can be put towards good and to bring people together. And you know, I wrote for herb, I don't know if it came out in print, it definitely came out on their blog or whatever. I know, it was interesting, you know, I got to meet Lilou, and all kinds of great people, it was dope. But it was really different for me to be flown to South Africa to cover B-boy events, as that's not my specialty. You have been known as a publisher for quite a while, can you maybe tell us about how you came up with the newsletter and how that took form. Or if there were earlier times that you got into writing? The person who gave me the opportunity said it was because I actually put the newsletter out in a timely fashion, they How has the covid 19 pandemic impacted your ability to knew that I would get back like, because I was like, you know, there was dancers that I said, you know, fly them to South Africa. And they just weren't sure about anybody producing the article on time besides me. So that's why I got to go. And then of course, my ex helped me with wording and terminology. So God knows best. organize events? It's crazy, because I had eight battles scheduled out of 10. For the regional battles that I do. And this this weekend would be DMC Denver. For whatever reason, I held back on announcing any dates publicly. And I'm really glad I did. Maybe I was waiting for a sponsor to sign on. I'm not even sure what I was up to. But you know, you want your major sponsors like Rane and Technics in before you start branding. And so I was waiting a little bit, and then this happened. And so I don't have any events to cancel, because nobody knows that they were happening. So that's easy. And now I'm just waiting to see DMC headquarters in London is going to make some announcements who about what their plans are in light of the COVID situation, but we're definitely going to have battles. The question is, you know, will they be in person or online, and we have the capabilities to do each, it's just, I just think it might be irresponsible to have live battles. if everybody's going to get sick. You know, I can't be the ringleader of that. So that's been challenging, very challenging, and kind of a bummer, because at this time, I should be traveling and seeing all my old friends in, you know, Tampa in LA and Phoenix and wherever. So it's kind of disappointing, but God knows best. I mean, better safe than, you know, sick. Yeah. How have you been managing personally during this time? I've been extra healthy and peaceful because I'm in Denver, and not in New York right now. But one thing that I noticed, like this weekend last week is there's so much infighting right now. And I guess it's just because people have been locked down and they're getting antsy and they have all kinds of feelings. And then First we have the pandemic. And then we have widespread police brutality that just hit the boiling point. There's so much going on and a psych This is where the psychology comes in, or even just my practice of is long. The one thing and I was just going to write about this today on Recently, because I have an organization called Child of Facebook was you don't really know what's in the hearts of anybody, only God does. And you you don't know what anybody's intentions are. So the fact that people are jumping down each other's throats, assuming they know what that person has in their hearts. That's hard for me to watch. Because there's a lot of good people getting trolled, and I've been trolled before. It's hard. And I mean, I guess that's a test from God and itself. When you get trolled. I'm trying to be patient, and I'm trying to educate people, if I have the patience on, you know, Black Lives Matter and police brutality and issues that go down. Because it's like, you know, I'm white. There's a lot of fellow white people that will say something to another white person. And maybe they're seeking some kind of answers. And if I have it in me to give it I will is Wow. It's so sad though that so many people do need to learn and so many people haven't had like immerse themselves in the culture. And also I think this is interesting to imagine is that I came up like from Sugar Hill gang, I got to hear all the music that actually made it on commercial rap radio like brand new being and Public Enemy. Even the lynch mob, which is one of my favorite groups, Ice Cube, poor righteous teachers, you know, like militant or conscious groups. And you got to learn about, you know, even though I'm not down with the nation, I got to learn about the Nation of Islam, the five percenters black and African American issues, like so much stuff, conspiracy theories, like all of that is in the rap. And now I don't even know like, unless you really go underground and look for like, Immortal Technique and some other people, you might not get any of those messages. And that's heavy. Like it's dumbed down, the corporate radio has dumbed down commercial hip hop radio, to the point where people don't know the issues that they should know. So yeah, so I was just listening Public Enemy and the lynch mob before you guys call me and then ice cube, others certainly conflicting lyrics as a woman, but the beats are so hard, and some of the words are just so militant and hardcore. That's what I miss. I miss hardcore, militant hype rap with beats, younger people, like even people like a little bit below 40, just they, they have no experience of the activist side of hip hop, that's wild to think of, and it's so ingrained, like just goes with it. And somehow corporations and commercial radio have removed the activism element to some stupid stuff. Like, no one speaking out, is more dangerous than our president. He's dangerous. He has powers over us. No hip hop artists I know have any powers over me, you know. So there's a bigger danger of our lawmakers and our president and our leaders, and of course, our police who are supposed to serve and protect. So there's so many bigger issues that and then we're just in fighting on some petty stuff. And it's hard when we could be educating. We need to have those educational discussions if we can, and patiently and respectfully. this Culture foundation. And internally, we did something about checking our biases, it was just like a meet up with just internal people about learning how to check your biases. And even though we're all part of a hip hop organization and education, ut some of the members were n t understanding the movement, y u know, towards the end, it w s like, Oh, I didn't think a out it like that, or, you k ow, just even that little part w ere they're able to change or g ow just within the dialog. And b cause it was a safe space for i , but not everyone shows up. I was thinking about what you said that I was thinking about women and hip hop events and how guys don't usually go to them. Yeah, and it's so disappointing because I'm like, you guys say you want a woman that's down that likes what you do, supports you, if you're a practitioner, you want a girlfriend that supports what you're doing. And then there's a women in hip hop event and no dudes go. And that's exactly where they need to go to meet women, but they won't, and they don't they don't think it's going to be interesting and think it's gonna be boring. And I'm always happy because I could see other women, you know, but but I always think wow, you know, guys should be here for this, these these MCs are dope, these B-girls are dope, you know, like, It's weird. So it's a, it's an interesting project to try to get people to go to an event, this women centered, without having to fall back on, we have a man on the panel that will make you count, like Immortal Technique will be there, you shouldn't have to do that. You know what I mean? If it is a women in hip hop event, but then on the other side, it's weird, because I'm not crazy about all women panels, or all women this or that. I do think men need to hear what we're saying. And I think if we could get supportive men on panels with us, that would be helpful as well. You know, even if that is the Lord to get guys to come and listen, or whatever, but there's just some weird stuff. Like there's been times that I've been invited to be on panels, and I'm pretty sure it was only because I had a vagina, like I'm quite positive, that that was the only reason they needed to balance the panel out. And I didn't feel right about it, because it wasn't on topics that I'm even well spoken on. You know, whoever's on your panel and whoever's on your lineup should be who you want and they should be the best at it. You know, I got that all the time with the park gyms for the Crotona Park gems. It's only pioneers and legends DJs. And honestly, there's very few hip hop, female pioneer DJs that are still DJing. So that's problematic to put them on. Then there was other ones that were legendary that said, I'll play but I'm only playing holy hip hop. And that's not what my party was about. Like I wasn't pushing Islam, so I'm definitely not pushing any Other religion. So that was like weird challenges. So it ended up that like DJ Jazzy Joyce would be the one woman that I could put on that still party rock that stayed active that lived in New York because other people live other places. There's baby D, who's the DJ for the Mercedes ladies in her and a DJ named Pam Bada, which is the dopest name ever, are considered to be the first hip hop, female DJs. But I never found Pam bata. I never met her and baby D is down in the south, so I couldn't even put them on my Park jams. I've heard that you asked the DJs not to play music with profanity at your park jams, is this true? You could leave the jam, not realizing that you didn't hear all kinds of curse words and bitches and stuff. There's been events that I've gone to where I didn't feel comfortable, as either a woman or as a white person or anything. And I never wanted anybody else to feel like that. Because the true spirit of the culture is everybody's invited. Of course, you should show up and be respectful. But everybody should be there to be united and get down together and meet each other and join universally. So that was my that was our intention. So faible an eye for tools award, grassroots hip hop, which is like that we're co founders, we decided that we were going to have certain rules to the park gym, with each gym had its own theme. But one of the running things was no profanity, no sexually explicit lyrics, keep it clean, keep it clean was throughout. And a lot of times the music was from the 70s or even early 80s. So it was a little safer than it is you know, and I certainly love some some controversial lyrics, I just didn't want them played at our jam, I don't want to be the one who expose little kids to it. Maybe that wasn't the way the culture went down back in the days. But I also felt like because of commercial rap, hip hop was becoming a 21 and up event again, with alcohol sponsors and all kinds of other things. So how could we get it back to the roots like B-boy B-girl battles are always all ages. Rarely Is there a bar serving alcohol. And I like that energy and I like the energy of youth being around. So that's kind of what I wanted. And then you know, Fable and I fought people trying to sell alcohol at our jams constantly. Like it was like a money making cottage industry. And it was like fighting drug dealers really, people were dead set on making money at our jams even though we didn't make any money off of them. And we would go broke trying to throw jabs while other people were walking away with a big stack of money from secretly selling alcohol. It was heartbreaking. And also people are drunk and people getting drunk or a liability, and they're more likely to fight. So when we stopped throwing the park jam recently, maybe within the last year or two, we feel like maybe we got out before anything crazy happened. Because God forbid, that would be terrible. You know, even if just someone fell and got hurt from being drunk. There's so many things, but we definitely didn't want fights or anything crazy happening at our jams and, and they were getting big, especially in the Bronx and more than we could handle. It was why it was getting wild. After you've done so many different events in all the boroughs. What is a piece of advice you would give your younger self? I don't even know I know. It was all trial and error. So I can't even think of what I would tell myself because I probably be just as crazy, you know going up to people and tell them they can't sell alcohol and Okay, maybe not to be a people pleaser like I learned from Hip Hop, especially in the Bronx to say no and be really firm about it. That wasn't something that came easy to me. People get very confrontational when they want to perform at your parties. And you don't want them to a lot of MCs were really mad at me because we didn't put MCs on the lineup. And if they did, they had to be invited by the DJ. So the DJ was always the front man or woman at our jams. And you couldn't get on you couldn't just walk on because you think you're the star of the show. We put the DJ back in the forefront like it was the very beginning of hip hop. And that really made a lot of MCs very unhappy. And and then the times that we did trust an MC to get on legend. These are legends. One legend got on and even though we got along with that police precinct and they were really cool and supportive, he got on the mic and yelled fuck the police and had no idea how that could mess us up. There was a lot of community affairs cops that were super supportive and went to bat for rjm still exists and knew the value they had in the community. You know, despite whatever else happens in the rest of the force of the precincts. A lot of the community affairs cops were exactly right for the job and they did their job. They gave us permits they, you know made sure we followed the rules and everything. So like, it was hurtful, another emcee got on. And when I went to the bathroom, and somehow another legendary emcee got on, and dissed Grandmaster Flash. And so then flash shows up the next week saying, When can I get on? And I'm like, well, you got to wait till next year because my lineup is booked. So flash came the next year, and we had a plan where no one would know he was showing up except for fable me and the sound man. And so that way MCs couldn't plot to jump on a set. They tried, though, it got crazy towards the end, because it was flash, but um, it was interesting, like, and I would have never agreed to let anybody display flash on my lineup. Like, that's the guy I'm cool with. So it's hard when people get on the mic and say wild stuff, you don't have any control over. And that's why Grandmaster Caz was our host, because he basically is an alpha MC. And if you're not better than him, how are you going to take the mic off him? So it worked out where he held that down, and you couldn't just overcome him? And take his mic. So worked out. That's the perfect host - the forever park jam host is Caz. How has New York influenced you as a person? Man, it's, it's good and bad. Like now I'm in Denver. And I'm like, super watchful of everybody. And they're like, really nice. Like, if someone comes into my boyfriend's storm and my Oh, hi, DJ, supply this the logo. And they say, Oh, I'm here to pick up gear. And I'm like, What do you Oh, they say it and it's true. And one time a guy took gear, and then he came back. And he's like, Oh, I forgot to pay you. So it's really beautiful how honest people are, you know what I mean? Whereas in New York, there's a lot of hustling going on. And so you have to watch yourself, and you're just more watchful in New York, because there's so many more people with so many different agendas. And it also messed me up for events. Because New York, it's so hard to do events in New York, and you're fighting off MCs, and you're fighting off just dudes that want to run on stage and stand there and look important. And then you get to other parts of the country where people don't do that. And it's so it's so refreshing. You know, it's so nice not to fight at your events with dudes that need to feel important. Very rarely will a woman do that. But a guy almost always needs to look important by trying to get on your stage. And that's not how I run things. So I've kicked a lot of legendary people, and a lot of people that nobody knows off my stage is so new york made me more militant about that. Also, if someone gets on your stage that you don't know, or maybe maybe you do know them, and they still do it. Suddenly, the prizes for the DJ is might be missing. I remember one time in LA at a DMC, stuff was disappearing, like a ghost stole it, the sound man's laptop got stolen, it was like right by him. We had these Serato, rain, USB watches as gifts for judges, those were disappearing, like really quick. And that was from people that somehow got on the stage. So as soon as I made the rule about nobody, not even friends coming by to say hi and shake your hand on stage, all the thefts in missing things went away. So who knows what anybody's intentions are. Yeah. And I've gotten to some major bad fights over the stage. It's bad. Like, you couldn't even believe that a guy would put himself on the line and put himself out there. That has nothing to do with your DJ battle. And once the fight you to stand on stage, like it's wild. I can't imagine. And so when people invite me to the stage, I'm like, I'm good. Because I need to set an example. Like, I'm not going to go on anybody else's stage unless I'm doing something. And I'm not because I'm not an entertainer. I'm not a creative. So I stand back, I'll help you on the side if you want. But you're not going to see me like floating around and look at him trying to look important on stage. That's a weird thing about hip hop. It's the beauty of needing to be seen versus ruining a show because you need to be seen. The ego gets in the way. But mostly in New York. It's I really don't deal with that too many times in any other city like that. Maybe la occasionally, but everybody else is so nice and other cities, and maybe they just haven't picked up those bad habits. Where do you get your entrepreneurship quality from? I would say my dad because he had his own business, and always worked for himself. Promotion wise though. I had an old boyfriend, who was throwing parties and clubs in Boston. And I watched him promote and I learned a lot from him as well. Different weird things like never let anybody see your flyer laying on the ground. Just interesting things that he had like rules for himself as a young club promoter. And I never thought that I'd end up doing what that you know what I mean? So but I lived in Boston for a year and we had loft parties and all that other stuff. But I was around. I wasn't around hip hop. I was around a bunch of club kids and it was hard because no one would take me to the places where hip hop was happening. Which was Roxbury. And a lot of people felt that that was not where they were going to take me. The late 80s. Early 90s was very disappointing, but they thought it was safer for me not to go to Roxbury. But when I first moved to New York and I found out that there was a Zulu Nation anniversary, I wasn't going to miss that for the world. And I stomped all my all the way up to Harlem, wazzu streets and places I didn't know and I was just determined, that's where I needed to be. And I went and it was great. So you shouldn't let that fear keep you from going. You know, where you want to go to find hip hop. Even if you think you're not going to fit in or whatever, you know, you should go You should never never regret that fear of missing out. I would have killed me to not go to a zoo anniversary. Despite everything that happened. It's really a sad for the culture especially but um, Afrika Bambaataa was one of my biggest influences in hip hop from his albums and everything and my girlfriend, Rhonda that I spoke about earlier, we're like, yeah, we're gonna go to zoo, we're gonna, like, we're gonna go to Bronx, we're gonna be down with Zulu, we're like, we're just like, so sure that we'd be accepted. Because it's universal, and accepts everybody, we have really, really idealistic imaginations for ourselves being down in the Bronx, in the early days, we probably would have got ourselves in a lot of trouble. But that was our ideal. And I hate to say it, but that ideal is what drives drove me to the Bronx, and to insist on recreating Park jams with fable that I missed from the 70s and 80s. So I was just determined, and I was determined to make it like this happy, peaceful, loving place. There was no stick of kids. There was no one selling dust. Like all the stuff that you hear about from the early, late 70s, early 80s. wasn't happening it my family friendly jam, you know, so maybe it wasn't as authentic as it could have been. But it was it was safe for people to go to. Talking about your entrepreneurial ventures. I heard you're also quite well known for your cookie business. Yeah, that is an interesting ... I don't work on the cookie business 24/7, or anything. I bake when I get a chance. But in New York, I just like took some cookies, this of jams and just share them with people. And then people wanted to buy them. And then it got to the point where I was selling like $200 worth of cookies at a jam, like as many cookies as I could carry. I would sell like $10 bags of cookies. And I think it's because a lot of people don't bake that I had the market corner. They were fresh baked cookies. A lot of people can't bake themselves. I don't you know, I'm from Pennsylvania, where near Pittsburgh where there was actually cookie tables at weddings. Like, as a feature. The wedding is cookie tables, and everybody bakes cookies. So me making money in Pennsylvania off cookies would be a whole other thing. And then it happened that I would take pictures of like, legends with my cookies, like DJ cash money, or babauta or Kaz or whoever. And then it started getting to be like a weird status symbol, like cash money would hold up a $20 bag of my cookies like he's a baller. And then other people saw the pictures and they just was like, I have to try these. And even when I go to the DMC battles in London at the worlds they, you know, DJs asked me to bring cookies over so I like half of my bag is full of cookies. And I take them over and people buy cookies and other countries and even the DMC World Champion skills from France this year, made a comment that he didn't get cookies last year like it was a prize. So this year, I gave him cookies, but it's fascinating that people come up and ask you for the cookies and about them when you don't really think that they know. But so now there's so many legends and battle champions holding up cookie pictures and you know, Babu and Rhettmatic from the beat junkies are big fans and Q-Bert likes a gluten free cookies I make for him and he made a commercial about my cookies. He said they have dank in them. I think I would like to say that that's not true. I don't make special cookies. But uh, yeah, I've got it. Just people were just really excited about the cookies. So thank god, it's a nice little side hustle when I have time to bake. What's your go to flavor? Everybody likes the chocolate chip cookies, but lately when I'm eating my own cookies, which is weird, because I'll eat Oreos like it's nothing like I love Oreos. So if we're eating my own cookies lately, it's been that it's a cookie that has pretzels, chocolate chips, caramel pieces and butterscotch chips in it. All that in one cookie. So that's like sweet and salty and everything. That's one cookie I like and then we also like a peanut butter cookie with butterscotch chips in them. And then we salted there's a couple that I do eat. I always try to tell myself I don't eat them so we could sell them. But then there's some extra that don't fit in the bag or whatever we're just eating. But yeah, those are my latest two as well as that. banana bread with pecan and coconut in it. It's nuts. Like I ate two slices the other day like it is so unlike me to even eat that much of my own stuff is banging though. It's almost like a status symbol or like a baller kind of thing. That's weird. That's funny. Has COVID allowed you to try out some new recipes or experiment around? Oh, definitely. Yeah, that's what the the ones I just talked to you about, or the ones that are the latest ones, when you're throwing events, and you're the person who does all of the jobs within the event, you know, which is different from a corporate competition, because they have someone to do everything different people, I don't have an office, I have me and my friends helped me. So. So when you're doing DJ battles, it's so stressful, because you might be beefing with a DJ that didn't place and how now your battle is corrupt, and you're unfair, and your judges suck, and blah, blah. I'm not missing any of that. I'm not missing DJs that won't read the letter. I sent them and they show up unprepared for battles. Like there's a lot of stuff I don't miss. So it's really peaceful right now, since COVID. And then, you know, we're here at the store. The stores doors are always locked in. Like, since we started letting some people in, they can only come in with a mask. But while everybody was on severe lock down, everybody wanted to buy DJ gear, like a lot. Everything we were just busy, busy, busy. So we had an outside Drop, drop box contact free pickup, you know, you can meet us outside, you just couldn't come inside. Like we just we stayed hustling business wise too. So thank God for that. Like, it wasn't like we were out of jobs. And you know, the only thing that we look for was a stimulus check or something. So thank god like it's been good for business. Not that the virus has been good for business, but people being locked down, and anyone needing their gear and some people just wanted to pick up a new hobby. So they might have bought a portable, they might buy a controller they might buy, you know, big turntables, anything. I hope that a lot of DJs actually come out of this pandemic, you know, with fresh music and a new approach, God willing, and I don't really care what they DJ on. My big deal is, you know, I like rare music. I like good selection. I like funky stuff. So the rarer the better though for me. I'd rather hear what I don't know. Is there a particular battle that stands out to you? It's wild to say because the first year I ever did battles is the best year so 1998 DMC US finals has Craze and Shortcut and DJ Dummy and Cuttin' Candy and DJ Slice, Swift Rock -rest in peace- like so many people were in that battle and Lord Finesse is hosting and you know we inducted Grandmaster Flash and other people into the Hall of Fame. That in itself is comedy when you see like that, Bam, but he didn't show up to accept his award and the host thought (not Lord finesse) but the host thought that one of the guys on stage was Bambaataa and he tried to pull himself out of it. It's frustrating, but it's so funny now to watch. Like, you're just like, first you're like, oh my god. No. So anyway, there's a lot on that battle. So 98, DMC USA, you can find it on I think my YouTube is official DMC USA DJ battles, you can find all the work I've done and all the battles I produce there. And I'm still uploading more. But that is the best one is the hypest. So 98, 99, 2000 are some of my best battle years. And now since 2008. When I took it back. I started with east coast and West Coast and have got it back to 10 regionals a year. I don't know how to say it. I talked DMC into letting me make a scratch category, which is not a world category. It's just a national category you don't advance. But that's something I hope to make into a world world category category when one day once I can talk like the DMC headquarters family into it. And that's one thing I am actually really proud of is introducing a new category. And we add a new categories in my first year as a DMC two we had head to head battle a team battle. So you know, the more opportunities we could make for battle DJs, the better because they don't get that many. And a lot of them can win a battle, but they might not be good at party rocking, so they got to figure that out. But at least DMC is a good launch pad for oneself if you know how to work it. Like it's not like a instant success in a box where we put it all together for you and get you all the gigs and everything but we do whatever we can to help our champions and even people that don't when I look out for DJs that just entered the battle like if you just entered, you're on my radar, but if you don't enter I can't help you because I never saw you DJ. But I do know what DJs are in almost every city, if you said, I need a DJ in Indianapolis, I know one. So that's kind of cool to actually have like kind of a US wide network, but also like what, who I know in the world, but I'm really happy to be able to help DJs in whatever way I can. DMC is definitely been like a platform for a lot of DJs to get out there get the name known, you know, and some of them have risen to the highest elite status that you can imagine, you know, like Craze, like A-Trak. You know, there are a lot of DJs that started out and turntablism and DMC was that platform for them, was the catalyst. That's really great to have. And then even DJs, like there's some major DJs that battled but didn't even win a US title that are amazing. And then there's DJs, that just competed in by virtue of competing got recognized by someone else and got invited to tour. And so like, that's what I'm saying, like just showing up and doing a two minute set sometimes is, you know, an intro to so many other opportunities, and a lot of DJs, don't think about that, they just, oh, I'm not going to win. So I'm not going to enter. And it's just such a bad attitude to have. The also one of the things I'm really happy about more recently is that more children are entering the battle, because we never really had an age limit. And most clubs will let a kid into the venue, as long as they're battling and their parent is with them. So even though sometimes we do 21 and up battles, because we have no choice in a city, kids still get to compete. So um, over the last couple years, we've seen more children competing, and more women and girls competing, and that's really good. I'm all about that. And then you know, and I always warn the hosts, like don't make it a big deal that they're a girl, just treat them like a normal DJ, you know, like, let this be a normal situation. And don't you know, don't focus on that. Because that then it gets weird. Or kid, because you'll see that like, you know, kids get a lot of extra love and opportunities, because they're little and they're cute, and they're battling. My judges know, my judges wouldn't just vote a kid in because it's cute, or it would look good for the company or anything we never have this kind of talks about, oh, it'd be really looking good. If you would vote this guy in or anything, we're really careful about that. And like if a child wins, then that means you know that they actually got all the judges approval, and they weren't just cute, or, you know, whatever. And so that's really important to us, too, is that the integrity of the battle and the wisdom of the judges, and you know, and sometimes you get a judge the judges a little crazy, and, you know, you keep an eye out for that in the future. Yeah, you know, just like in a dance battle, like I mean, no adult B boys want to get beat by a kid that wasn't as good as though. And I'm usually happy when when someone wins. And everybody agrees upon it, like we do in fight for weeks to months after a DJ battle over the winners, the judges choices and all kinds of other stuff. But it really is nice when everybody agrees that that was the person who won and everybody's happy. And there are some really nasty kids out there, especially the stuff that I see popping up. Now these kids really have skills - It's not just the cuteness. Yeah, they're, they're killing it. In my case, though, like, if they don't battle - once again, I'm not looking out because you need to battle in person for me to see you. I'm not gonna watch, it probably happens. A lot of people probably cross one all the time, too. But people will try to post kid videos on your page. And they're not battling. And I don't agree with going up the passing lane. It might sound harsh, but battling is essential in hip hop. And I'm a strong believer in that. And so what is it going to look like? I'm DMC and I'm letting you get up the passing lane and promoting you. And you're never battled, you know. So I'm really big on that. I'm a woman running the battle. So there should be nothing like intimidating any girls from entering. I would think I'm the least intimidating of all the possible people that could be, you know, running a battle, you know, and really try to be friendly. The wild thing, though, and there is some really beautiful parents out there. But there's some really wild stage parents too. Yeah, we've been through it. Like, I feel like I need to write a guide for parents of children battling because you just need to let the kid do their thing and not you know, it's been wild. I've been trolled by parents. I was told by one kid's parents, even when she wasn't battling that year. There wasn't even anything to fight about. It's a way to get attention. And it's you know, online beef is it's almost like a reality show that I didn't know I was a part of. Yeah, so we're so we're really like we're really encouraging and even then we were really careful. Like we didn't want to hurt the child's name or reputation. If we talked about the parents, we had to find a clever way to get around it without saying the DJ, his name or anything like that. And it's difficult because you want to defend yourself because it looks like you're arguing with a child online. But it's the parents driving you crazy. When one child DJ told me, aren't you a woman? Why don't you be a woman? and I'm like, what the? what kind of child writes like that to anybody. So you knew it was the parents ... Yeah. And the child is probably super embarrassed. I don't know, I never get to talk to the child, but I'm hoping when the child is a teen, they could look back on their years of social media that they didn't know they had, maybe it's gonna be wild, like none of us are holding it against any child what their parents do, right? what the parents do is make it hard for you to recommend the child because you don't want to put anybody in touch with really pushy or aggressive parents like that. That doesn't look right. You know, you recommend good people to good people, no matter what age and whatever. So it's challenging. So you always want to be fair, and you always want to, like, you know, be helpful, but you can't get abused at it either. You know, you can't have people abusing you. Wow, Christie, you got to do a lot of a lot of stuff in the position that you're in, what armors you? I think, well, one, you know, my religion, my belief in God. And the rules that go along with the religion are righteous, you know what I mean? Like you just deal with each other righteously you try to write, you try to speak respectfully, you know, all this stuff, you know? Yeah. And then whatever I learned over the years since, um, since I learned to say no. Yeah, and just you always have to remember that you represent I represent DMC, so I can't be writing crazy. But I also represent as a Muslim, and, you know, there's so many other things you you're responsible for to represent correctly, that you just don't want to, you don't want to do anything wrong, you want to be extra, extra, extra 100%. And I remember when I first started, I thought, like, I saw my male counterparts, sometimes some male promoters would be like, sloppy, or let things go. And, and I felt like us as women had to be 100% or 1,000% more perfect, because people didn't really want us doing it. I've seen things over the years, like who made that white girl in charge of hip hop? DJs just mean things, you know, so I know that I have to represent because I have enough people that don't want me to succeed. You know what I mean? Not a lot. I just think there's some haters out there that don't like women don't like white people maybe don't like Muslims. I might it might be like a three part thing for me. I will say the beautiful thing about the battle. DJs in particular is you know, you're Muslim, but they're they want to take pictures with you. So you'll see a picture of me with a whole bunch of battle DJs. And some people might look at it from the outside. Like they don't know why there's a Muslim woman at the club. Why are they talking to her? So I hope that it opens minds towards the fact that like I said, we're not home making falafel, like we're just freakin we're out here. And there's so many of us doing stuff in hip hop, and doing it in a strong way. Like there's fellow power women, you know, of all religions, but there's like powerful women out here doing stuff. And I you know, and I get excited, and I'm happy for their success. And that's another thing we need to learn is to be happy for people and happy for people success and want send those vibes out there. Like I want you to succeed. I want this to be the greatest and you just like can't be just bitter and hating on everybody. You know, that doesn't get us anywhere. Yeah, I'm sure you've experienced the, you know, anti female sentiment at some point, Total or being made to feel like you're not welcome somewhere. One person said - was it a Q-Bert video that I had - and you'll always see me in the back of DMC like running. I'll be like running across the back of the video. And I really don't want to but it takes longer to go through the crowd. So someone said, Who's that woman? Why do they let her run on stage? It

was on YouTube and I wrote:

I let myself on stage because I run this. But they just didn't know because I look different. I don't look like I don't quote dress hip hop. I don't know what dressing hip hop even is anymore. Right? What did dressing hip hop look like when you were just starting out? Well fortunately, I was already Muslim and covering by the time I had a professional job. But before that, and this is why I defend any woman's right to wear whatever they want. I always had like really short fly haircuts. I would have to say this it is it's crazy. But however the fly girls dress on and live in color. I would be happy to dress like that all day long. Like I don't care if it was short shorts, in a bikini top, whatever. Like in Pittsburgh, you could wear different things without getting like chased down the street. Like when you get to New York, you have to dress a little bit more conservatively. People are really, guys are really aggressive and fresh, like just, it's amazing like It's nuts. So piss where you could dress and have a little more freedom to dress how you want it. So like the outfit was bikini top, and some kind of baggy shorts shorts, like all summer long, maybe shell toes. I don't even know if that was hip hop. But we just thought the fly girls were just like the dopest. So I just send again. So then after I became Muslim, my ID still had me my driver's license had me in a bikini top. And so I'd have to show it to people to get into clubs and stuff. It was really crazy. But I but I seriously feel like we should have a right to dress however we want. We should be able to dress sexy, we should be able to cover ourselves completely. I don't think it's anybody's business, you know, what we're doing with our body and how we're covering it. And I think that's a big issue in the US as well as the world that everybody likes you if you're showing your ass, but if you cover your ass, that's not gonna be good. Like, that's, it's unAmerican. That's how I feel. But I'm happy. Maybe it's the way the whole look. But a lot of people either don't know what I am, or careful because they don't want to misstep with me. Maybe as a Muslim. They don't want to accidentally be disrespectful. And then some people really do believe I have cancer. There's something Ill about like there's a there's so many things. Some people think of Jewish instead of Muslim, some people refer to me as a nun. like yeah, it's been it's been an adventure. being Muslim and white in hip hop Is it a different experience as a Muslim that you experience outside of the US? Well in England, they're not super crazy. You know, the ruling party isn't super crazy about Muslims. So after the Brexit thing, I felt a little different when I got on planes and stuff. A long time ago I went to Paris and people were just strange like they just like looked at you right in your face like you couldn't see them and just stared hard England to they people will stare at you like you can't see them staring. And considering the stereotype is that they're very, very polite. It's the one of the strangest kookiest things on the train to experiences people staring at you like you're in an aquarium, but you can't see them. But in general, like I don't, I think maybe because people don't know what I am. They don't mess with me as much. I don't know, I can't figure it out. I mean, you know, in that way, there might be privileges involved in that. If I was a black or brown Muslim fully covered, would I get treated the same? If I had an accent from another country, would I get through TSA as easily, I hope for all of us that and I don't know how long it's going to take for people to drop their biases, or stop stereotyping us as terrorists or whatever else they think it's so it's so hard. Because you, you're out there with an open heart and you want to be friendly with everybody, I smile at everybody. And um, even my boyfriend said it like he, I've learned to avoid it. But you don't always realize how people are looking at you. And they're not happy a lot of time at the airports, especially in things. And in New York, I would get it from interestingly enough from like, certain people from other countries would grill on me hard like, like, if we were in that other country, they probably would do worse to me. And they treat me like I'm from another country, which is weird to be born in America and to be treated that like that. I refer to it as whenever you're, I became Muslim, and I gave up my Barbie privileges. You know what I mean? So you like so now you are from another country, your hair's covered. You're somebody different now and people react to you that way. And it's really interesting to see how people will treat you other white people to other white people that normally would have probably said hi to you on the street, and now you're covered. Nope. And anybody with me, like anybody who's with me is automatically a Muslim or an Arab now. So it's been it's been an adventure to say the least. I'm happy I'm going through it though. And it makes me more conscious of how people treat other people, you know, in the Muslim ban, and all the other things that are going on against Muslims and the misinformation about us and all that stuff. Tevye thank you for shedding some light on your experience with that, because I think it's a very interesting perspective. Is there anything else you want to talk about? Follow DMC DJ online or DMC USA or DMC world on social media? To find out about our upcoming plans once we announce them? If I could advise anybody during this covid pandemic protest time, I would say be patient with each other. Speak respectfully to each other. Try to educate, don't troll people. Don't be harsh, try to help people and if you can't help people don't say anything. And then to stay safe. We like to end out our interviews with the same

question which is:

What is hip hop to you? Hip hop is a culture. It's universal to everybody. should be able to be within hip hop focusing for me hip hop focusing on the elements of the dance, aerosol, our DJing, emceeing, Did I miss anything, I don't think so. And then out from there. And I do believe it's universal. And I do believe it has a message of peace. And I do believe it goes beyond color barriers and races and everything. Like we can all be a part of it, but you have to approach it with the right intentions and be respectful of where it came from. Try to learn the history as best as you can, in fact, check it because there's so much misinformation. But hip hop to me is the culture and the commercial, rap radio, and the corporation's don't represent it. Hip Hop is about battling hip hop is all those elements. And hip hop made a lot of things possible for me and to know a lot of different people of different colors and races and ethnicities, and learn about issues. It could be so much, or it could be just this commercial stuff that people were defining it as now, which is sad, but it is so much more and I hope people take time to look into that. And it has activism in it. All of that, all of it should be a part of it. Everything that's good should be a part of hip hop, and we should try to weed out the other stuff that misrepresents. Thank you so much to our guest Christie Zee, for taking the time and being so open while sharing your perspective with us. Some of the gems we took away from this interview were Opportunities are often given to a person who shows reliability and trustworthiness, over pure expertise. Dependability is a skill that everyone can cultivate. When you find a passion, you will find a way and take a risk to learn and immerse yourself. Showing up is essential to reaching any goal. There's always people searching for talent that they can support. So one must show up and be seen. Our theme music was beat boxed by Denis the Menace and produced by Zede. A big shout out to the brothers from Switzerland. Also a big shout out to Brian Lim aka Brian Pistols for his dedication to his community and the hip hop culture. We congratulate you on receiving the 2020 Teknyc B-boy B-girl scholarship. We would love to get your feedback, questions and any suggestions you might have. You can reach out to us on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook @SoulidarityLLC or via email soulidarityllc@gmail.com If you liked today's show, please tell a friend about our podcast. Or as Phife Dawg would say: Tell your mother, your father, send a telegram In our next episode, we welcome Rob Stull. Rob is a comic book industry veteran who has worked for every major publisher. He is also a teacher, a Museum of Fine Arts Boston artist-in-residence, and an Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum luminary. Thank you for listening to our podcast. No seriously though. Thank you. I am Candy. I'm DJ Razor Cut. And this is Souls of Hip Hop

How would your parents describe what you do?
Growing up in Western Pennsylvania
Life of an event promoter
Becoming the CEO of DMC USA
Technology in Turntablism
Organizing events during the pandemic
Being a female in Hip Hop
Tools of War Park Jams
Influence of NYC
Entrepreneurship
Cookie Business
DJ Battles
Navigating the industry as a female Muslim
What is Hip Hop to you?