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Building an Empire: Why DJ Mr. Rogers Deserves to Flex

“Coming from Dallas we was fans of Watts and Screw so tough. We had never heard nothing like that and we just always listened to it. Then I came to PV and I got to see the culture and how much that music meant to the people out here. At that time that’s all we listened to. I wasn’t a producer first, I wasn’t a club DJ first; I learned how to chop and screw before anything else. That was the first thing I learned how to record,” – DJ Mr. Rogers.

It’s an unbearably hot day in July, nothing new for Texas. Escaping the searing heat, on this day, Justin Rogers rolls through the streets of Houston for a stroll down memory lane, his silver Chevy Suburban eating up road space. As opposed to hearing his own commercials play on the radio, he opts for an auxiliary cord, playing songs from known and obscure artists via SoundCloud.

He remembers the late nights working on Drake’s So Far Gone to give it a Texas remix. He also remembers when he became an unofficial brand ambassador for D’usse and the multitude of Thursday nights spinning at 5th Amendment. His name precedes him, yet there are few that actually know the man behind the turntables. It’s easy to mistake his cool demeanor for nonchalance, but in reality he’s passionate about his craft and equally careful with his brand. In truth there was no secret or shortcut, he simply worked his ass off.

The Dallas native will forever be linked to Prairie View A&M University for all of the right reasons. It’s the campus that first embraced him, becoming the launching pad for a DJ that is arguably the best in the state, if not one of the best in the South. Rogers eventually rose from fledgling DJ shouting out Slim Thug on random DVDs to being the go-to DJ at Houston’s 93.7 The Beat. It began in 2000 when he enrolled at PVAMU for an engineering program. It was a natural progression for the kid that once spent every weekend combing through his father’s vinyl collection. For Rogers, music was and has always been a way of life. Once there he would become known for playing music out of his windows, drawing people over to chill and enjoy his large collection of music.

If his story was to be made into a movie, he could easily be portrayed as a Black Forrest Gump of sorts. He’s the guy that always seems to be at the right place at the right time. From stumbling across The Party Boyz to providing the beat to Dorrough’s “Walk That Walk.” Whether you know it or not, Rogers has been a consistent force behind the scenes. But even he had to start from somewhere.

After getting his hands on a CD burner he became the go-to guy on campus, delivering 60 minutes of whatever you wanted to hear for as little as $15 dollars per mixtape. This was before social media and the phenomenon of digital streaming, when file-sharing platforms such as Napster, KaZaA & Livewire still reigned supreme.

Following the departure of DJ B-Love from the campus, Rogers soon realized that instead of selling his mixes to other students and DJs, he could become one himself. By his junior year in 2002, he had purchased his own turntables and equipment; it was time to transition from practicing in his room to rocking live crowds.

“Where I came in, I was the guy that everybody got their CDs from. DJs used to buy their CDs from me to play when they needed a new hit song,” he says. “So I saved up, got some equipment and came back. Everybody knew me from selling CDs, so anybody that had a party they would hit me. I just started killing. Still to this day, I just try to do everything that I can at the brink of my capacity. No matter what. That’s why I like that seven nights a week shit. That’s how I built my name up.”

Despite his Dallas roots Rogers has often paid homage to Houston, putting his own spin on the now legendary musical style first introduced by the late DJ Screw. After learning how to properly slow certain records down to a pitch before bringing them back, demand for his Rogers screwed CDs skyrocketed across campus. Featuring his voice perfectly slowed down to the perfect tempo, it would be his official introduction as “DJ Mr. Rogers,” a name he initially hated due to obvious comparisons to the beloved television show, Mr. Rogers Neighborhood.

Read the full story at Houston Trend Magazine - October 2015

#CoverStories #Interviews #MusicWriting

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