When you think of old school hip hop, only a few DJs come to mind. One of which had a name so classic that even hearing his name made you jump out your seat and move. When anyone heard “What my DJ’s name? Cut Creator” yell out of radios and boom boxes, everyone within a few feet of one another knew exactly what time it was. It was time to dance.
Fast forward 43 years later and DJ Cut Creator is still spinning and making people jump onto the dance floor. But is that all? This legend and icon still has a lot going on and his story is so fascinating. Sitting to talk with him about his past, his present, and his future will shock you, motivate you, inspire you, and you will understand why he is indeed a living legend and icon in hip hop. It was certainly that way with me and I happy to share this interview experience with each of you readers.
Dr. G: Nearly everyone knows who you are since you are a living legend in an icon in the hip-hop community. I have first ask, how did you get the name Cut Creator?
DJ Cut Creator: It’s a long story, but it started out when I met LL. A lot of people didn’t know my name was Cool J. My first name is Jay [J-a-y] so, they called me Cool J. Now, I’m also not the original Cut Creator. This happened in 1984. It was another DJ by the name of Cut Creator that was with us. He did one show with us and long story short, it didn’t work out. I stuck on and took on the Cut Creator because of the conflict of Cool J.
Dr. G: Oh, so you couldn’t be called Cool J.
DJ Cut Creator: Yes, because LL Cool J was solo artist.
Dr. G: Okay, that’s so that’s so interesting that you assumed the previous DJ’s name.
DJ Cut Creator: I mean it has happened before. You had two Spinderellas; you had a bunch of people.
Dr. G: I didn’t think about that. You’re right, Spinderella went from one person to another and stayed Spinderella, right? Okay, well, that’s an interesting story. Now I have to ask, if you weren’t a DJ, what do you think your career path would have been?
DJ Cut Creator: I had a bunch believe it or not. I was in school at Syracuse University on a wrestling scholarship. That didn’t work out, so I went to City College. I don’t know…probably teaching or in law enforcement.
Dr. G: Oh, okay that this has two different realms and very interesting. So, everybody knows you as this huge, music icon. Tell us something somebody does not know about Cut Creator.
DJ Cut Creator: That my father was a famous band leader. My father is where I got my musical traits from. My father was a band leader for Wilson Pickett, Sam and Dave…he worked with the Isley Brothers. A lot of people don’t know that.
DR. G: Oh wow, that is so interesting. So, you came up with a music background anyway.
DJ Cut Creator: Yes, Yes.
Dr. G: So, were you always into DJing and rapping?
DJ Cut Creator: No. Drums and trombone.
Dr. G: So, how in the world did you go from drums and trombones to turntables?
DJ Cut Creator: Well, it’s actually funny because your drums are easy to me. Trombone was the technical. You had to read music. My father played horns and all the people around me. Back then, this was the key thing. I was a funkster. I loved funk. I loved the Ohio Players, Earth Wind & Fire. I loved funk. George Clinton and all of those guys had horns, but as the time grew late 70s early 80s trombone wasn’t cool. It wasn’t like… I’m walking on the bus with a big case and it wasn’t like the cool instrument. So, then the transition from funk went from Funk to Disco to hip-hop so the live instruments kind of just whittled its way out.
Dr. G: Oh, okay. Do you still play any of them now?
DJ Cut Creator: I play a little bit. A little bit of keyboards and stuff like that in my home studio but not like crazy, no.
Dr. G: You have been in the industry for a long time, what are your thoughts on the transition from using vinyl and turntables to now using computers for everything?
DJ Cut Creator: Well, well technically It made my life easier, especially when you travel around the world. You have to carry enough music…five to ten crates of records. In this day and time, that can be very costly on the airline’s (thirty, forty, or fifty dollars a pop) just for that. So, you’re talking about $500 just to carry the music and then you have to have people to help you carry that stuff. It is convenient due to computers.
Dr. G: Did it change the quality though?
DJ Cut Creator: It depends. It really depends where you get your music from. Because remember years ago, I don’t know if you remember, it was a thing called Live Wire or Hot Wire or something like that where you can download music. And if you downloaded it, sometimes you would get viruses. If you download it, you hear the worst of the worst. So, it depends where you get it. I get mine from legitimate sources or I just buy it.
Dr. G: Do you still DJ now?
DJ Cut Creator: Oh, Yeah!
Dr. G: Still at it!
DJ Cut Creator: Yeah, don’t let the gray hair.
Dr. G: Rightfully, so. You don’t get as many (personally speaking) quality DJ’s now who really understand mixing. So many people want to constantly put out what’s the latest and greatest and it doesn’t have to transition very well at all. And sometimes the transition just comes out of nowhere. It’s like, oh wow, did they really change the song like that.
DJ Cut Creator: I’ve been DJing now for 43 years.
Dr. G: Oh my gosh, you started DJ and when I was 2 years old!
DJ Cut Creator: Yeah, 43 years now.
DR. G: 43 years in the game. So, let’s talk about the hip-hop music today in comparison to 25 or 30 years ago, or dare I even say 43 years ago. Share your thoughts on the difference in eras because you’ve been DJing for such a long time. What are your thoughts on the transition of hip-hop today?
DJ Cut Creator: Well, you know when it started out it was fun. It was really fun; you know, party, throw your hands in the air. A lot of it had had a concept in it, meaning in it. As years grew, it was still fun. You had to the 80s, which was our breaking out party (which was fun). And there were meaningful songs. And then you had the 90s, which is really our old school now. If I play right now, they want to hear pretty much 90s. All that Busta Rhymes and all that. But now, it’s a sense where I think that it’s just one style. It’s one style and if I said, hey Pam, come on, let’s dance. We can’t even really dance; you know what I mean? It’s a weird feeling because I can’t dance to it. You know, I like the dance with it a nice young lady. It’s one beat and it’s las though no one’s being really creative to me.
Dr. G: Oh, you know it’s true
DJ Cut Creator: And I know a lot of people on the flip side of that, are not accepting the creativity. You know what I mean? So those are some of the things I mean. I could play a hit… I’ll tell you example: I was playing a club here in Atlanta… as a matter-of-fact Frankie Beverly has a club out here. Him and his people. So, I was playing this club and its old school club. It is supposed to be 30 and over. So, I’m playing and I’m playing and I’m playing, people are dancing and having a good time. Then a lady came up to me and was like hey, how you doing? She said I got a question. You going to play this shit all night long. First of all, I thought It was rude and tacky. I said to her, “turn around for me.” Did you see the door? You know it’s 30 and over whatever, whatever. It was kind of rude, but that’s the mentality. I get it a lot.
Dr. G: So, what do you think it would take to bring back hip hop, because to me hip-hop is kind of faded? I’m 45, so hip hop to me is not really in existent now and what people call hip-hop or what I would have known as Hip Hop when I was growing up.
DJ Cut Creator: I think this excellent question. One of the things, I just think people need to open up. I think a lot of the music is being rushed to be made. You can get a program at Walmart and then make a beat. The Fruity Loops are all these different programs. I’m serious. It’s fruity loops and you can make beat; GarageBand and all that. So, it’s easy.
I remember doing albums with LL and we would do 8, 9, 10, 12, hours a day, every day like in the summer in the studio creating. Some nights will be there and can’t think of nothing. I think the creativity has to build. I think people’s willingness to be open and I think social media has a big part in it. We can love social media. We can hate it at the same time. So, I think that has a big part of it too.
So, to answer your question. I’m not exactly 100% sure but I think it starts with the creativity and just being more musical and stop being repetitive with the same beat (doom, doom, doom), because that’s what it pretty much it is to me.
Dr. G: So, here’s my take on it. I was in Alabama for the holidays and I was driving back and I’m changing stations because I can’t take the same beat and squeaky voice music anymore. I have Sirius so I put it on the Rock the Bells station. I’m listening and I’m in heaven that every song sounded different. The Men who were rapping sounded like men and were actually rapping. And so, then when I went back another radio station, I didn’t know who was who because everybody nearly sounds the same (from little baby, the baby, the mini baby, Mac baby…).
I don’t even know some of these people but all of the music [beats] sounds the same and you don’t really know what it is when it first comes on because all of the beats are the same. All of this didn’t really resonate with me until that trip of just how significantly different the old school rap was from 1988 until maybe 2000 or so.
DJ Cut Creator: Prime example, if you didn’t like LL, you liked Big Daddy Kane. If you didn’t like Big Daddy Kane, you like Tribe Called Quest. If you didn’t like them, you like Public Enemy. So, it was like a dinner. Everything is on the table. Well, some people don’t eat pork, some people don’t meat at all. Some people are just straight vegetarian. So, you pick what you want and pick what you like and that’s the way it was.
Dr. G: It’s definitely not that way now that bike that’s by
DJ Cut Creator: Not at all.
Dr. G: And as a DJs, how do you find that happy medium or is it just you play what’s easier to for a specific audience?
DJ Cut Creator: It’s very hard. It’s very, very, very hard. I’m telling you hard where there’s been times where I want to just pack up and leave [literally]. I remember one party I did, the girl said all I want you play the grown and sexy and then next thing I know it was trap, trap, trap, trap, trap. I’m not a good person that plays trap. So, a guy gave me a list me about yay long, so I just YouTubed it. I’m sitting with a remote control in my hand and YouTubed it; and they were happy. I was like, I rather not take your money because I feel like I’m not qualified to do a whole night. You know, I play a few songs. I’m not qualified to do a whole night of that music. I don’t know; and then for me when I look at it, it’s like they don’t dance so you can hardly gauge if people are really having a good time and not. And that’s hard, too.
Dr. G: What do you mean?
DJ Cut Creator: Playing a lot of trap because they don’t dance. Remember what I said earlier about wanting to dance. You know, they don’t do that. They don’t do that. They just [bounding up and down movement]. Guys kind of dance with girls and girls are just kind of bop with themselves or twerk or whatever. I’m like, I don’t know. You’re kind of lost.
Dr. G: I’ve never thought about it that way, but I also don’t club or anything unless I’m out of town. Then I will go out. Which I will say, in Atlanta you all are still clubbing out there like there is no pandemic.
Dr. G: Oh my!
DJ Cut Creator: Yeah, and I got it from DJ friend of mine. I by check them out. I had a maks on everything, and I don’t know, he handed me a beer or something (or somebody handed me a beer or something). I don’t know what it was, but I contracted it and I was down for about three weeks.
Dr. G: Well, I’m glad you’re better. Oh my gosh. I have had a maybe a handful of people that was really close to me to get COVID and one of them she was down for like a month or so. Yeah, it was really, really bad. So yeah, I’m so glad that you are better you and you didn’t have to get hospitalized or anything?
DJ Cut Creator: Well, this is the thing, they don’t hospitalize you unless it’s really, really bad. I was very weak. I didn’t eat, didn’t taste nothing. What else? I out of breath. Like, I can walk to my car and I’ll be out of breath.
Dr. G: See, I’m asthmatic. That would have probably taken me under. I would have probably been one of those that ended up in the hospital. But I’m just glad you’re okay.
DJ Cut Creator: I appreciate that. Thank you.
Dr. G: So, let’s talk about COVID for a little bit because often the effects on small business, especially restaurants, but nightlife and entertainment and has not really been out there. They are not really having discussions about it. So, being a DJ would you say the pandemic has had a significant impact?
DJ Cut Creator: Yeah. Oh, yeah, especially for me. I play a lot of older places. I travel a lot. A lot of older people don’t come out. The younger ones will come out there partying. Like what’s today? Wednesday… Today and morning tomorrow it’s going to be packed. Right up here not too far from where I live in Atlanta. But older people are really wise and they’re not coming out. So, I normally play 30 and over clubs and stuff like that and travel. Of course, it hit me hard.
The last gig I had done out at state had to be in the March last year (when the pandemic hit). I was supposed to do a cruise just two weeks before COVID hit. I was supposed to be on the Tom Joyner cruise to play and I had a couple of other things I was supposed to do hit. It hit me hard. I mean the income I probably lost was around 85 percent of my income as far as DJing.
Dr. G: WOW! This is why I want it to really have this DJ series, because people think that restaurants are the only ones are affected or a nightlife is affected but DJs are the nightlife. Also, most DJ’s that I know are essentially business owners. They are their own businesses and some of them are so busy that DJing was there only source of income and it’s always paid very well, especially when they’re people like you. It’s just amazing that unless you have a secondary source of income it’s even harder.
During the pandemic. I know I don’t know if you did, but several DJ’s took to social media and gave the world some of the best music ever. And the turnout was amazing only for it to be shut down. Some DJs were even paid through cashapp for playing. So, what were your thoughts on that?
DJ Cut Creator: Well, I of course, was one of those guys online and but I donated my money to people; especially single women with kids. They needed lunch; a lot of people were out of work (especially in the club’s where a lot of those girls didn’t have the money). So, I was donating money to feeding some kids for lunch or something. It wasn’t much but it was something to do. But I know a lot of DJ’s that really needed that money on that cash app and everything and when they when they started shutting it down it was like, wow, that come on man. Not only for us [DJs], but for other people, a person like yourself, who might be home and want to hear some good music. And think D. Nice hit like, I don’t know how many numbers, but it was in like in the millions. Yeah. He was doing very well, very well.
But it was a form of relaxation for us. Even for me. I will go check out a D-Nice or Kid Capri or Butcher or DJ Kool or whoever it may been. I would go check him and just have a good time. Because I had quarantined myself in the beginning and it was one of those things, I was just enjoying it. I don’t think that, believe it or not and I know this sounds crazy, but I watch my computer and my tablet more than my TV. I don’t think I have had my TV on in my room for about two years (maybe a year and a half). I don’t watch TV that much. I watch my computer and my tablets so for me just to enjoy good music.
I would tell you a little secret for me also. It was a learning experience. As a DJ you never too old to learn. Like, okay he played that wow that’s a good song. Let me write that down. And there’s nothing wrong with that because we all do it, but that was a learning experience. It was enjoyable experience and when you cut it down… Man, it was like somebody punched us in the stomach. It was like, wow, we can’t do this. I mean, there’s other sites that they’re trying to do it with and believe it or not and not to be political, the senator (I don’t want to mention his name); but the senator from Kentucky just wrote a bill last night, for the stimulus and also it has a social media law in there. Where platforms like Facebook cannot be liable for what I do. So, I don’t know if that might help. I don’t know but it’s interesting. In the next few days, we’ll find out. I really wish we could play music. I mean, online it’s satisfying. I’ve been in my house. I go to the grocery store or something like that, but for the most part I’m just in the house.
Dr. G: I got wind that you decided to write a book. Is this something that COVID led to this idea or was it always something you felt like you should do since you have been in this industry long enough, I have a lot of knowledge that I can share about my life and my experience in this industry, so, let me come out and write a book?
DJ Cut Creator: Actually, both. I’ve been wanting to write a book for a long while. I think starting professionally in 1984 to now, there’s a lot of stories. I can tell you a prime example: I did this show called Behind the Music from I think MTV and it was some young writer and he was telling a story and I’m like, that didn’t happen. I’m in the middle of the story and he’s telling a story and I’m like, that didn’t happen. So, I was said, you know what? Let me tell what really happened.
My life. How I started with a LL. How the break-up happened. It’s a bunch of stuff that needs to be told and that’s where I’m at. I need to tell my story, where I came from, and my history because believe it or not, even before the DJing and I had a good history.
A lot of people didn’t know I was a New York City wrestling champion, New York State runner-up, and wrestled the Olympic gold medalist. So, I have a good history even before that.
Dr. G: Yeah, I would not have saw that coming at all. The wrestling and even playing just the drums and the saxophone and all of these things I didn’t see coming, but I’m also I’m one of those people that I love talking to other people because I understand that people’s perspectives can be different. So, when I interview people, I like people to know who you are outside of this icon and outside of being a legend. Is it still kind of hard to believe that you are still a living legend?
DJ Cut Creator: It’s weird because I grew up on a lot of people, you know. I tell you the funniest story. I don’t really get Star struck, but two people I met got me Star struck and you would laugh. One was Sherman Hemsley, and one was John Amos from Good Times.
What I met them I was like, oh man because you think about its good times that was that in my head. That was one of the things that we all can relate to and the way that that the way John played James Evans. We all can relate to that man. And we all needed that man in our life; that strong black man, that didn’t back down and to do whatever he had to do for his family.
Dr. G: I look at you as such a legend that you had major marks to be in those places amongst other Legends.
DJ Cut Creator: Yeah, you know what? I put in work. I put in a lot of work, lot of traveling, and lot of frequent flyer miles.
Dr. G: So, how can people connect with DJ Cut Creator?
DJ Cut Creator: I can be found on:
Facebook: Jay Philpott
Everything is pretty much DJCutCreator.
It was an honor and a pleasure to be in the presence of a hip hop icon. His podcast, A DJs Life is set to release in February. If you are a true hip hop junky or love hip hop, you are not going to want to miss it. If you are a DJ, get ready to hear the gems drop and learn a few things from the greats.
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Professional Speaker, Media Journalist, and Author, Dr. Pamela Gurley is the founder and CEO of Clark and Hill Enterprise, LLC (www.clarkandhillenterprise.com) and IAmDrPGurley, LLC (www.iamdrpgurley.com); founder/creator of merchandise brand un@pologeticbyDrG, Author of "I Am Not a Stereotype: I Am H.E.R. Adjunct Graduate School Professor, Founder/Host of Herspiration Happy Hour podcast and Vlog Series Un@pologetic w/ Dr. G; Co-Host and Media Journalist for Urban.ish Digital, and Contributing Writer for Medium, empoWEr Magazine, & Hustle & Soul Magazine. Dr. Pam has been featured in Forbes and Hype Magazine; as well as, on Good Morning Washington (abcDC7), Good Day Atlanta (Fox5Atl), The Quiet Storm w/ Lenny Green, The Book of Sean (FoxSoul), Hot914 Radio, Urban.ish Radio, and many other media outlets. She is a retired United States Army Veteran and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Saint Leo University; a Master’s in Health Service Administration from Central Michigan University; and a Doctorate in Management with a concentration in Organizational Development and Change from Colorado Technical University.