Imagine you grow up in California a music-lover to your core. Imagine by the time you are twenty you're working as a Mixer at LA's premier hip-hop station. Imagine during a big station concert, you see a legend backstage, one you'd like to get a picture with. You approach the legend, but security a guy who looks like he could swallow bears makes an arm bar and says "no way!" The legend sees this and tells his arm-barring-bear-swallowing-security, "It's cool." Imagine the legend asks your name and when you tell it to him he says, "Wow, I listen to your show every day."
This is the stuff of a music lover's dream. This is the stuff of DJ Vice's life. The encounter happened with none other than Dr.-I-make-classics-Dre. As the story goes, the next week Vice and his boss at Power 106 visited Dre's house to preview tracks of his then upcoming album: Chronic 2001. The listening session didn't include any other music types, just Dre, his son, and his wife. Talk about memories! Although Vice didn't go straight to such grand times, he says it's been "music as far back as I can remember." A good place to start is when he was a record-collecting-music-loving-eleven-year old or maybe a better place is a couple years after, when he began shadowing a family friend who DJ'd. When Vice was thirteen, the friend bought him his first turn tables and told him he'd have to pay them off by being his assistant. "I'd have to carry his crates, set up the speakers and lights, run errands," says Vice. It was grunt work yes, but it led, two years later, to his first solo gig.
Soon the word spread about the kid who could mix and keep a party going like few others. Vice started DJ'ing weddings, house parties, anywhere he could make a name for himself. Around '95 he landed an internship with some big name radio veterans: The Baka Boyz. With the Baka Boyz Vice paid more dues, work that eventually landed him an on-air tryout for Power 106. Vice, already a confident mixer by then, wowed the Power execs so much they offered him a job on the spot.
Mixing and scratching aren't Vice's only assets. He's also a DJ who is comfortable crossing genres. "I've never been just a hip-hop head," he says. "I'm a big house head, dance music, rock." And oh yeah, there's another important asset: Vice's crew: SKAM artist. The it-isn't-a-party-unless-SKAM-is-spinning crew. The crew that amounts to a brotherhood of some of the best and hottest DJ's anywhere. "It's not just DJ Vice," he says. "It's DJ Vice the SKAM Artist." Mixing, spinning crossing genres, holding membership in a mean crew: Vice is a triple threat.
Vice is also a passport stamp collector: London, Paris, Australia, Germany, Japan, Hong Kong, Malaysia, the Philippines, Mexico, CanadaÉ these are just some of the stops on what is shaping up as the DJ Vice World Party Tour. Passport stamps notwithstanding Vice might be most at home in the city where they sleep less and party more. "After radio I really wanted to take this to another level," Vice explains. "I saw the whole Las Vegas club scene emerging, the multi million dollar venues."
Over the last five years Vice has held residences at Vegas' premier party spots: Body English (Hard Rock Hotel) Pure (Caesars Palace) and LAX (Luxor). These days he's the go to guy at Tao and Lavo, where on any given night you can catch him spinning while celebs like (as happened recently) Jay-Z, Usher, Diddy, and Young Jeezy emcee. Although the Vegas star power is nice, for Vice it isn't everything. "Vegas is a big accomplishment because it's an international spot," he says. "You can have someone from Nebraska, standing next to someone from London, standing next to someone from New York."
Chances are while those people are standing in enough light Vice is checking out their kicks. Vice is also a sneaker head extraordinaire, so much so that he partnered to open CRSVR (Crossover) the hottest sneaker store in Santa Barbara. Explains Vice, "Some people may think I named it that because of basketball. But I named the store after the EMPD song." He goes on, "I always associated shoes with hip hop from back when Run DMC was rhyming about their Adidas."
Whether it's collecting kicks, mixing on Power 106, lending artist like Timbaland, Kanye, or Pharrell creative input, whether it's spinning at the biggest world bashes, or spinning in the city where no one seems to sleep, whether it's working on his own music "I'm picky so I haven't put anything out yet." no matter what Vice is doing, you can bet it's definitely not considered work. "I've never had a job in my life," Vice says. "Music isn't a job, it's a hobby, which has become a source of income."