Brooklyn-based rapper and DJ Jasmine Solano proves that talent blended with a hustler’s mentality and a positive spirit are the most necessary tools for success in a rapidly filling music industry. Many will publicly state that they’re “making moves” or “on their grind,” but few have Ms. Solano’s resume to prove the legitimacy of their claims. Her latest move may arguably be her biggest and best to date. 2012 found the top professional on the road as the tour DJ for pop rap superstar Wiz Khalifa. Adding those plaudits to credits including her “Electric Punany” residency at NYC night spot Sway, as well as work as an artist with progressive groundbreakers including punk rappers Ninjasonik and producer Melo-X, clearly shows someone on the trajectory for tremendous growth and increasing levels of success.
This Saturday night finds Solano in DC, where she’s spinning a set at H Street’s Little Miss Whiskey’s Golden Dollar. Today finds me asking her a few questions about her impressive level of dedication to her crafts, as well as thoughts on the rise of DJing and some of her personal favorites. Enjoy!
1. You’re noted and respected as a rapper and as a DJ. When and how did the decision come about for you to embrace expanding your career aspirations?
Both avenues cultivated simultaneously at a young age. By 16, I was performing spoken word, rapping and singing at open mics. By 17, I was DJing on the radio and by 18, I bought my first pair of Technics. As time went on both DJing and rapping evolved together, always intertwining. It makes sense that now you can find me DJing and rapping at the same time.
2. With the advent of technological advancements, there have been many who have attempted to make the jump between being a performer in another realm and becoming a disc jockey. To what do you attribute your success, and what advice would you give others attempting to make the move?
Luckily for me, I never had to make the jump. I was always doing both.
Nowadays, everyone expects you to do more than one thing. We all have 10 titles of expertise listed on our business cards, twitter profiles, etc. But with that has grown a loss in credibility. With everyone saying they can do everything, it’s hard to spot the professionals. I think my success has come from the fact that when I say I’m a DJ, I am. When I say I can rap, I can. When I say I’ve hosted a ton of radio shows and live concerts, I have. My advice would be to always be mindful of who you say you are. People will expect you to mean what you say. And you should be able to keep your word. So when deciding to jump from one lane in your career to the another, make sure you do the research, study your craft and take the time to be GOOD.
3. Many who are unaware of your rapping and singing background are very aware of your stint as Wiz Khalifa’s tour DJ. How did the opportunity come about, and how have you grown as both an artist and a person from the experience?
When Wiz’s album “Deal or No Deal” was dropping (2009), I happened to be running the radio station at Frank151. During CMJ of that year, Frank151 presented a concert with Wiz as the headliner. I opened up. After that show the powers that be felt it would be a great idea to send us on tour together. Wiz and I met in Colorado for the X-Games of 2010 shortly after. I DJ’d for him for the first time and we both decided the tour was on. We then embarked on a 60 city, sold out tour across the U.S. Which was a first time for the both of us.
That tour for me was like boot camp. If you can survive DJing AND rapping every night for 3 months in a tour bus filled with only guys, no one from your camp… you can do anything.
4. What has been your favorite performance as a rapper, and what has been your favorite night so far as a DJ? Were there any similar energies between the two nights, and overall, what makes for the perfect gig?
As a rapper, it would have to be while on tour with Ninjasonik. There’s nothing like watching people moshpit, climb on to the stage and go insane once you get on the mic. Ninjasonik has a pretty strict punk-rock crowd. We were combining punk-rock and hip hop in a way that was liberating and exciting.
As a DJ, I remember one “Electric Punanny” (www.electricpunanny.com) party in 2009 at Sway in NYC. I don’t think I can describe this night in words. But there was one set that I spun that had everyone standing on tables, seats, walls, the speakers, the bar or each other. Everyone was absolutely drenched in sweat. The wail of screams per every record I dropped was wild. Everyone had completely let go of all inhibitions, there were no judgements and we had collectively reached a high that made me feel like I was flying while I was spinning. My perfect gig would be that night all over again.
The similarities between the two experiences are that people are free. As a performer of any kind, when the crowd is open and ready to have a good time, you have a much better chance at the exchange in energy. They go nuts, you go nuts, everybody wins.
5. Who are the producers that you look up to as a DJ? As a former DJ myself, there are just certain folks whose records and particular production styles seem to always connect with a dance floor.
That’s a great question. It’s funny because I look back in time; Clement “Coxsone” Dodd who founded Studio One and is responsible for spreading the early hits of Jamaica to the world, Berry Gordy who created the Motown Sound, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis who produced most of Janet Jackson’s hits in the 80′s and 90′s, Dave Kelly who has been a renowned dancehall producer from Jamaica since the early 90′s, Peanut Butter Wolf for having the ear to combine hip hop, samples, jazz and funk for over two decades. These people to me defined a sound, a genre or a movement. That’s like creating a miracle. Ha.
6. As far as looking ahead into your career, what are three concrete goals that you have set insofar as your advancement as a DJ and performer?
- Through my art, people around the world will gain strength from my influence and inspiration in themselves.
- I will travel around the world to as many countries as possible, DJing and performing.
- I will have a Jazzy Jet with gold interior seats as well as a Jazzy Yacht that my friends in Miami will take care of until I visit again.
For more information on Jasmine Solano, visit www.jasminesolano.com. For more information on Little Miss Whiskey’s Golden Dollar, visit littlemisswhiskeys.com.