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“Let Me Clear My Throat” with The Legendary and Iconic DJ Kool

“Let Me Clear My Throat” with The Legendary and Iconic DJ Kool

There are a few iconic names when it comes to DJs, but one you will never forget is DJ Kool. Even if you do not know the name or know the face, one thing is for sure: you know his chart grabbing (and iconic song) “Let Me Clear My Throat.” It has been played by every DJ worldwide for nearly 25 years.

On New Year’s Day, I had the pleasure of discussing the 25th anniversary of this release; as well as his 42 years in the music industry. It was definitely a great way to kick off my new year and one that I will never forget. At 62 years young, his energy is that of someone half of his age and that said a lot about how he has remained relevant for over four decades. In this exclusive two-part interview, get to know the man behind the music and his four-decade journey to becoming the icon and legend he is now.

Dr. G: Happy New Year! It is such an honor to be starting my year with such an iconic legend and appreciate you taking the time to sit down with me.

DJ Kool: Thank you.

Dr. G: This song has lasted four decades and is still in heavy rotation by a lot of DJs and on the radio. When you first created this song, did you think this was going to be the outcome?

DJ Kool: Not at all. That particular idea came out of something that was, for lack of a better term, a gift from God. Just something that spontaneously happened one night that I just happened to wind up recording.

Dr. G: How do you feel now knowing what it has become?

DJ Kool: Once again, let’s bring God back in it. I guess he was like, you know what you do. I’m getting ready to give you something that is going to last well after you’re gone. This is
going to be your Magnus Opus. That is what this is going to be. And so, I just basically followed his lead and here we are. This year marks the 25-year anniversary of Let Me Clear My Throat. It came out in 1996.

Dr. G: Oh, wow! You know, I don’t know why I feel like I was rocking to that back in high school. I graduated in 1994 and it was like I was listening to that before ‘96. And here 25 years later and it’s still as relevant as when it came out. So, when did you start DJing since “Let Me Clear My Throat” became such a huge hit in 1996 and that you had so many other songs out before that?


DJ Kool: I actually started DJing in 1978. Yes. I’m 62 years old (I’m proud of that part). I was what they called a mobile DJ. Meaning, I was playing from place to place and moving around a lot. I started working at clubs in 1979 at a club here [in DC] called the Paragon that used to be on Wisconsin Avenue in Georgetown. I work there from 1979 until it closed in 1982.

The next Club was a place called The Room that used to be 12th and New York Avenue Northwest and was there from ‘82 to ‘86 and that close after that. I worked at several clubs (Classics, East Side, the IBEX, Hoodlums Nightclub, Legends Nightclub, Triples Nightclub…A LOT OF CLUBS). {laughing} I was playing seven nights a week. You can see me anywhere from Monday through Sunday everywhere between DC and Maryland. You know what I mean as far as the Urban music club circuit was concerned. My first recording came out in 1986. There’s a song called “The Music Ain’t Loud Enough: Pump Up the Volume”. So, that was my first big record that actually charted billboard. It was the first hip hop record to come out of this region that actually charted billboard in 1986 using the formula that I’ve always used, which is a Disco and Hip-Hop thing that I do. I’ve had a record on the Billboard charts every year consecutively somewhere on from 1986 all the way up to 1996, which was my biggest hit Clear My Throat. That was the one that actually reached gold status back in ‘97. We’re probably at Platinum Status well over Platinum Status right now, but I just haven’t gotten the award for that yet. So, I’m letting my management go through things with that situation.

Dr. G: So, were you signed to a label at the time, or were you independent?

DJ Kool: I went through some wild times when I was assigned to American records, which was run by Rick Rubin from Def Jam Fame when he was working with Russell Simmons. When Def Jam had their “split off” I got picked up by American in ’96. The record company didn’t really do a lot for me back then because they lost a distribution deal. I got set on the Shelf in 1998 (meaning that I wasn’t able to release any more recordings). I got out of that situation in 2003. The DJ’s were the ones that really kept the record going. I had nobody really taking care of the record from ’96 as far as the record company was concerned (from a marketing and promotional standpoint). So, we should have gone platinum a long time ago with that record,

Dr. G: But you know what, look at God. Just because the record label didn’t do anything God had a higher purpose for that song. You are still trending, and the DJs are still pushing it. So, you should feel like your label at the time was crazy because they could have made so much more money off of that one album instead of shelving you while you were hot.

DJ Kool: Exactly! But it was business at the time because they had lost their distribution deal with Warner Brothers so they couldn’t do anything. You know, they were just trying to fish around trying to find a new home for the label. And in the meantime, I’m just sitting at home twiddling my thumbs what a hot record, but at the same time, because I had a hot record, I was able to continuously work either as an artist by performing or in the clubs as a DJ.

Dr. G: Speaking of DJing, how did you get your name?

DJ Kool: From basketball, believe it or not, and the fact that I became a DJ. I was a four-sport athlete coming up but my primary sports (or the sports that I really favor for myself) were basketball and baseball. Magic Johnson was somebody that I’d patterned my game off of back in the day, so, I was a real fancy point-guard with all the tricks and everything. and so I was playing Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) at the time and these two guys Buzzo and Jody. I don’t know if they still here with us but God bless him wherever they are. They were on the team and they would always comment on the way that I play the game. They would say look at that cool ass MFer coming up. Look cool that cool this and cool that…you know and putting all type of explicit language (for lack of a better term). And so, when I became a DJ I was like okay, I need a handle. What am I going to be? They used to call me cool all the time so I’ll be DJ Cool. I’ll spell it with a K to make it a little different and there’s DJ Kool.

Dr. G: Oh, wow. It’s not really out of DJing at all. DJ always has these classic names that they get and I always ask how in the world did you get that name. And so, yours is very unique as well and it didn’t even come from DJing. It came from basketball.

DJ Kool: I tell people if it wasn’t for music, or let’s not even say if it wasn’t for music. Had I made the right decisions as far as my education was concerned and had I gone to college, my dream was to play in the NBA or at least play division one basketball. Or probably could have even played Major League Baseball if would have stuck with that.

But then here comes music, and in particular, here comes hip hop music. if it wasn’t for hip-hop, I would have been on the mothership with George Clinton, and then because my aspiration, as far as being an artist is concerned, I wanted to play keyboards for Parliament-Funkadelic because I’m a huge Bernie War fan. There’s no greater keyboardist in the world that ever played better than Bernie Worrell. If Herbie Hancock was here, I’m quite sure he would tell you the exact same thing. Now, you know I’m talking about the greats now! As a matter of fact, Parliament-Funkadelic is probably the greatest collective of musicians and vocalists in one band at one time ever.

Dr. G: So, let’s talk about the music industry because you have 40 plus years in the hip-hop/Go-Go era. What are your thoughts on the technology transition? Are you still using vinyl, or have you now also migrated to computer technology?

DJ Kool: I am of kind of half and half. It is all digital now or MP3s. But the setup that I have is actually kind of like the best of both worlds because the setup and the equipment I have I’m able to play music digitally and everything but still able to be able to manipulate or play the music with the type of equipment that I’m accustomed to using when everything was analogs, so I kind of split everything right down the middle and it’s perfect. Just like I say, if we going to stay in the game we had to conform we had to figure it out. You know what I mean? So that’s what I did. I say I’ll put my money into this. I’ll put my money into this. I’ll make sure I have everything I need to continue to be able to move forward.

Dr. G: Let’s talk about Gogo music. A lot of stuff back then was more a little bit more authentic. Now, they’re taking other music and just flipping it by just putting the Go-Go beat to it. I remember back when people [artist] were writing their own GoGo music. What are your thoughts on the new GoGo music because like you said, you stay within your realm?

DJ Kool: Well the new GoGo, so to speak, is this new sound that they called bounce beat and is basically a derivative of the four-four drum pattern. When I tell people is musically what makes gogo is the drum patterns and the rhythm or the percussion patterns as far as the time signatures are concerned. With the drums, you get the one-two, three, four. With percussions, there is a three-four rhythm pattern. You put these two together and then you get this it makes you give you that bounce feeling.

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You know the sound is just we’re not going to use it this way. It just gives you a different kind of energy, so to speak, from a musical standpoint. If you don’t understand that you could probably get lost in it, especially people that are of a particular age that didn’t grow up on that sound. We grew up on 1231, 1232 on the four-four rhythms.

Dr. G: Let’s talk about 2020 and the COVID pandemic. The media talks all the time about restaurants closing down and how it’s affecting other small businesses, but people really forget outside of the movies that their entertainment is tied to going out to parties or live bands. It’s really affecting a lot of the income of DJ’s because people think that DJ’s are just DJ’s, but the reality is that DJ’s are small businesses. So while they’re opening up their opening up restaurants, they are not opening up nightlife. I know that yes technology was great for them because some of them started live streaming and playing music and then they were shut down. I don’t know if it affected you being able to go out and do DJing or any events, but what has COVID been like for you?

DJ Kool: A little bit of hell. In fact, that you’re right. I’m not able to get out and be in front of the audience, entertaining the audience like I’m used to doing. Being an artist, I’m on the road a lot. (Shout out to my booking agent and management team). I’m on a roll just about every weekend. This is the first year that I’ve been sitting at home on New Year’s Eve. I don’t know anything about that part of life. Being at home on New Year’s, being a home Christmas, being at home on Thanksgiving…all of that. I’m gone on all of them. I tell people all the time if you want to find me, come to the airport.

Thank God for live streaming. I’m having a ball, and this still lets my fans know that “hey he’s still alive. He’s still out there.”. You know what I mean? And now, being the one that has the international audience, I have people checking me out from all over the world. I thank God for that. But would I love to go back out there. Yes! And prepping myself for that right now. I’m ready to go. I got a new record that was supposed to come out called Cha-cha-cha and this is more in the line dance genre. I’ve never done a line-dancing record before, so I said, let me do one. So anyway, this record was supposed to come out in February and COVID said NOPE, you’re not coming out with anything. We were supposed to shoot this video back in June. As a matter of fact, the [DC] mayor’s office picked up on the song and they want it to be a part of this. They said, “we want you to come down and shoot like a flash mob seeing down here on black lives matter plaza and you can use that for your video because we really like the record.” COVID stopped all of that.

There’s a video on YouTube because there is a dance that goes along with the song. A young lady from Macon Georgia is a line dance instructor and she got wind of the song and took the song and posted a video of her and her line dance class doing the dance that goes with the song. We got probably very close to if not more than by now 350.

Dr. G: Wow, nice, and with no promotions. Do you still do DJing now? Where can people find you and what you are doing?

DJ Kool: Yes. I do I broadcast every Monday on a platform called GoGo radio. Shout out to Niko Hopson. He is the CEO of GoGo radio. He’s been doing that for 10 years, but I was just asked to be a part of this last year (about six months ago now) and I play ‘80s and ‘90s GoGo. That is all I play. I don’t play any of this new stuff because…well, that’s not my crowd. My crowd is 40-plus and we know the 80s and the 90s. You know what I mean? We know Chuck, we know trouble Funk, we know Rare Essence, we know Junkyard and all the groups that came out in the 80s and 90s. So, I kind of stay in my lane and that’s been doing very well.

You can view us on Facebook and you can also view us on Instagram as well. As a matter of fact, we’re going to the TV realm, so you’ll be able to see us on Roku TV, Amazon TV, Apple TV, all your TV apps.

Dr. G: Cool, so now I’ll be able to listen to old school gogo and I have a place for them to go to for that.

DJ Kool: The show this incredible. I promise you. My show was from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. every Monday. I call it “DJ Kools Monday Night Live”.

Dr. G: I will definitely be tuning in.

Not many can say they have done what Dj Kool has and this is what makes him an icon. Stay tuned for part two of this exclusive interview. He gets more personal and also talks about what he has been up to during COVID (which you get to meet and hear about the creation of his puppet Socko). I will also include a little bit of video footage of the interview! Stay tuned and in their meantime, check out DJ Kool every Monday night on the GoGo Live Radio app available on IOS, Google, and Android devices.

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