With June being African-American Music Month and National DJ Month, it’s only right that I highlight some amazing African-American DJs. It’s a plus that they’re females too!
Who is DJ Ally Bea?
This question is always hard for me because I never know what to say….
DJ Ally BEA is Alexandria. I am a lil red chick from the Seventh Ward boppin thru life jamin on the 1.
I am a woman who is just realizing her purpose while coming into her own. In the end, I am still the nerdy band head who sat in her room on the internet for hours researching all things hip hop, illegally downloading all the music so I can put my crew on the hot shit.
What influenced you to become a DJ?
I was always into music. I was in the marching band from 4th grade to 12th grade. Somewhere around the 5th or 6th grade, I saw my uncle DJing and that planted the seed. Then I realized that my music dreams were different I had no desire to be in anyone’s college band. My dreams were to be the female Dame Dash. ( which is probably why I’m an ass to some people lol ) But thru it all, I always keep music equipment books and would always pick my setup. I wish I still had those cut-outs ( thanks Katrina).
I also worked with Raj Smoove the summer after Katrina and that’s when the desire truly grew. I knew it was what I was put here to do. Just to hear how they could manipulate songs whether it be scratching or just mixing was mind-blowing to me and I knew I finally wanted IN!
What was your first DJ experience like?
Whew CHILE!! It was the year all my classmates were making 30. A very dear friend of mine Jovan hired me to DJ her 30th birthday BBQ which happened to also be Memorial Day weekend. I had just started learning how to DJ on this little bitty Spin 2. I wanna say I had only like 4 or 5 months practice. But Jovan believed in me so much that she was not taking no for an answer. I remember thinking “just think about what would you want to hear”. So the entire time I just played songs that I thought would be dope for the occasion and I immediately caught on to reading the crowd because if they vibe harder to one song more than the other then I would stay in that vibe for a bit. My classmates who came were like “OK! Alex is DJing now!” lol clearly this was NOT a shock for my H.S classmates. But in all it was a great intro to the DJ World it is def why I’m still here chasing that first high.
Do you break records or only spin what’s currently popular?
The humble me says both.
But there are people out there that will tell you she played Nicki, Drake, Wale, etc. first and truly pushed those artists before they blew up so I guess that means I break records.
But TBH I just like to bring the GROOVE ( s/o to Jams Davis). So whatever fits the GROOVE is what I play. I will say this if I can help push artist’s music forward I will as much as possible. I am def a DJ who READS her crowd so in some cases I can only spin what’s popular and in others, I can play all the jams that I know are straight fiya and my crowd will rock with me regardless.
So yea my final answer is BOTH.
If any, Who has been your biggest career influence?
Whew! Let’s just say it takes a village…
DJ Anon – I call him the silent killer. He is actually the person who gave me my one and only DJ Lesson. The person I sent all my mixes to and he would make me do them over if my timing was off. (now my timing is damn near flawless) He is also the reason why I fell in love with mixing as opposed to scratching.
Raj Smoove of course. For obvious reasons.
DJ Bigg Cheeese – He keeps his set FRESH at ALL times and the man is just a beast on the tables.
DJ Wop – He’s always been cool, open and willing to help me on the mental side of DJing.
E.F Cuttin – He breaks records and takes chances.
DJ Money Fresh – If you know you know. The man’s career is inspiring and legendary period. and it’s not up for debate
Shawty Slim – My first famous ( to me ) DJ friend. He pushes me to think outside the box at all times. He is the reason I started adding EDM into my set.
Vashtie – I love the fact that she is MORE than JUST a DJ which has always been my end goal.
Jams Davis – It’s always great to have somebody who influences you that’s on the same level as you. Just watching him take chances and grow pushes me to go harder when I feel like giving up.
DJ Rezy – she was more than a just a DJ partner she pushed me to always be myself and do what comes natural.
What’s the most fulfilling part of your job?
Playing your favorite song. For me, nothing beats that “oh shit ” moment. Ya know that moment when the DJ plays either a song you haven’t heard in a minute or that song that you thought would never hear at a party. That moment never gets old. like NEVER!
What are some of your biggest challenges as a DJ?
Being put in a box. I never want to be this DJ that only plays one type of music or is only know for this kinda crowd. I feel that being boxed in stifles my creativity and it makes what I do less fun. I am known for my song selection and that’s the fight I fight daily. You may have heard me run the most ignant Lil Wayne into some trap into some bounce music set one night. Then you may catch me at somewhere like the Ace Hotel on my EDM, Kaytranada, afrobeat, pop music vibes. Then buy a ticket to a random masquerade ball and I’m in playing punk rock, 70’s, & 80s music. So I constantly fight the challenge to not be labeled because I know what I’m capable of doing.
What has been your favorite gig so far?
It’s a tie :
My (now annual) Carter BEA birthday party & The Pussyfooters Blush Ball.
The Carter BEA party was one of my best birthday parties. For years I would say I want to have a Lil Wayne themed party and I would always do it on my radio show. So last year I decided hey I’ma do it! With the help of Jordan Bunch, I created this dope flyer based on the block is hot cover and the party was what I dreamed of and more. It was like this cult following of people who were so excited to hear Wayne (especially when I got to my Squad set). Just to look around people were happy rapping the lyrics that just made my night! I’m in talks to expand the idea this year and I can’t wait to tell everyone who’s coming to the party this year.
The Pussyfooter Ball was something unexpected. I had to play the largest range of music to date at their ball. I played music from 1970 – 2019. It was also the first time I didn’t make a plan I just downloaded the music I needed and let the crowd guide me. It was so fulfilling to see so many different walks of people being brought together because of music and ultimately my talent as a DJ.
What has been your “Mama, I made it moment”? If you don’t feel that you’ve had it, what do you feel will define that moment?
I’m not sure if I have had one of those. I have some auntie I’ve made it moments lol. I wanna say year 2 of me DJing I was JaSoRude’s DJ And we opened up for Mobb Deep and after their set, they requested to meet me. They gave me encouraging words and told me they really enjoyed my set. I’ve DJ’d under the bridge for Mardi Gras, a Zulu float, Superdome for Bayou Classic. But my Momma I made moment will be when I’m the tour DJ or opening DJ on Nicki Minaj’s U.S/ World tour ( gotta speak things into existence).
Do you feel that music transformed in the hands of a DJ? In which way are you actively trying to create an experience for the audience?
I feel like the DJ is less respected these days because artists are getting signed based on social media popularity and how many Streams they have. So it has become less about breaking an artist. To me because of it, it kinda gives the crowd a bit more power because they are more in the know these days.
I aim to create a more interactive experience kinda like how the EDM DJs are. I want people to feel comfortable asking me for a request but also know don’t come up to me every 5 mins neither. I want you to look up at the DJ booth and see me rapping/singing right along with you and in some cases, I’m twerking right witcha. To accomplish this I try to create that house party experiences where it’s just fun. I feel like we forgot the purpose of going out is to have FUN. So when you mention my name I want you to also mention that you had FUN!
In your opinion, is it harder for a woman to become a famous DJ than a man?
I don’t know if it’s harder to be famous but it’s harder to be taken seriously. A lot of times when I’m DJing alongside my male counterparts people will side-eye me until I start DJing then they’ll come up to me at the end and say “Momma you killed it”
What advice would you give to someone looking to become a DJ?
PRACTICE. I’m talking about like obsession level practice. When I started I would rush home from work just to practice. I didn’t even worry about gigs until almost 2 years later. I PRACTICED, I posted my practice sessions as mixes and the gigs started coming to me.
Start small. Don’t be afraid to take your friend’s house party or a hole in the wall gig because guess what? This is where you get more PRACTICE but this time with actual people.
BE YOURSELF! I listen to Nas, Lil Wayne, Jean Grae, 21 Savage, JID, Lil Uzi Vert, Green Day and Fall Out Boy. You can catch me dipped out at The Hangover on a Saturday Night and the Secondline and Kermits on a Sunday. I don’t alter myself just because I’m a DJ, I have gotten a lot of gigs just because I’m myself on my IG and people love it. What’s for you will always gravitate towards you. It’s ok to get inspo from other DJs but ultimately BE YOU!
Stand up for yourself. I don’t think this needs an explanation. If you see some F**K S**T: CALL THEM OUT ON IT! If you lose gigs guess what? That wasn’t the path God wanted you to walk down.
HAVE FUN! This is one of the most fun professions in the world. Don’t be a robot while DJing. Dance, smile, laugh, talk to the people standing by the booth. Drink ( but don’t get drunk ) JUST HAVE FUN!
GET IT OUT THE MUD. Don’t look for another DJ, promoter or club to put you on. Listen Raj Smoove is one of my mentors and I have NEVER asked him to put me on. I ask for advice but I worked for mine and I value it more because of that.
Name one song you can spin for any occasion.
Mannnn what kinda question is this?!?!? Let me think…… lol I’ma go with Bunny Hop for $500 Alex. It’s the one song that unties all ages & races.
Name 5 songs from your personal playlist.
*Disclaimer this changes by the hour*
1. Status Symbol 3 – Nipsey Hussle
2. Tha Mobb – Lil Wayne
3. Crash – ScHoolboy Q
4. Perfecto – Mac Miller
5. 4 in the Mornin – Nipsey Hussle / Objects In The Mirror – Mac Miller ( yes these go hand in hand lol)
If you weren’t a DJ, are there any hobbies you’d pursue fulltime?
I would be a writer. I went back to LSU to get my second degree in Creative Writing. My passion is short stories and screenplays. I’ve actually already been published. In a perfect world, I would have a few best-sellers under my belt while touring the world DJing.
What’s next for Ally Bea? What can we expect?
After the insanity of Essence, I plan to take a step back and focus more on throwing events that speak to me. I often feel like in the club/promoter world I’m not anyone’s favorite and that’s ok. Not being aligned to any one club or promoter allows me to kinda bounce around in different circles. However, the downside to that is I’m usually not the main DJ. I have a few things that I’m planning now that will help me create my own lane to ride in as well as also helping others up. I am also working on my non-profit, I want kids to know that there are other creatives avenues besides Art and Live music. I want to build up all my young BEAs out here. I’m also premiering Season 5 of my Podcast: the aYe YO Show in August while revamping my Radio Show: the BEAtle Juice Show. So I have plenty to keep me busy outside of being JUST DJ ally BEA.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?
I’ll leave you with my favorite Nipsey Hussle Quote/Lyrics:
“Life is what you make it, I hope you make a movement & I hope you find your passion because I found mine in this music.”
Click below to check out 2 of Ally’s latest mixes: