DJ Wiz Hoffa: How the Vibe is Made
Written by Liam Sweeny on December 28, 2020
Music is the distillation of performance of experience. In as many cases as it is elaborate and complex, dare even say cryptic, it is always personal. Before it makes you feel, it make the creator(s) feel, and if they don’t, you never hear it.
DJ Wiz Hoffa has been making people feel him since the dawning years of the 1990s, maybe earlier. He’s refined his craft over the past thirty years, and his words and sounds have been personal throughout the profession he’s built up.
I sit with DJ Wiz Hoffa and we talk the future of mix-tapes.
RRX: In Xperience, we’ve covered rap and hip hop artists before, but, and maybe I should say this more for myself, it’s new territory for me. So let me have you as an ambassador to this part of the local scene. And that is a tall order; I get that. So can you take me on a tour of the scene that you’re helping to make?
WH: Well that’s a humbling question. Over the years I would hope to think I’ve helped create a scene that tries to uphold integrity, skill and dedication on the music side and the business side as well. I wanna be the poster boy for showing people what can happen if you never give up your dreams or passions. Even more so I hope my mentality will rub off on my two daughters Amaya Amor & Semadia Rayne. At this point it’s important for me to leave a legacy behind!
RRX: I remember in high school, in lunch specifically, you had tapes. You were putting music together at 15-16, and you’re still doing it. They say if you do ten-thousand hours of something, you’re an expert, and I’d say you qualify. What have you accomplished that you thought you would back then, and what’s still on the to-do list?
WH: At that age I think one of my biggest goals was to be heard on the radio. I actually accomplished that at 15 years old. (Shoutout to DJ Money Mike & Slammin Shan from 88.3 WVCR for the opportunity). I think every artist wants to create a dope album or body of work that can be recognized and respected which I’m still working on til this day. I just dropped my first single as a producer titled “I.D.K.Y” available on major digital platforms such as ITunes, Spotify, Apple Music, Google Play etc.
RRX: Music means reinvention if you do it enough. You write, practice perform, and then you gotta do something new, something different, or people will just slap a label on you. Sharks got to swim or they drown. So almost thirty years of performing for you – have there been any meaningful reinventions in your style or approach?
WH: Hell yeah! When you’ve been in the game as long as I’ve been re-invention is almost a must. The styles and trends in music change pretty often. I try to keep my musical foundation with little alterations to make things sound fresh and relevant. It really depends on the artist I’m producing for but I’d like to say I’m great at catering to artists of all generations. Nowadays beats are way more bass heavy so that is definitely one of the things I’ve tried to perfect.
RRX: You have a new podcast, called ‘Faces of 518.’ I’m looking forward to this, because I’m expecting you to showcase a lot of local talent. So I’ll ask you this, because I can relate. The 518 is pretty big, but it does have a limit. Is there enough talent in rap and hip hop and other genres that you’ll cover to fill the guest list for a while?
WH: A lot of people would probably expect my podcast to be strictly music/entertainment based. However, I really feel a need to provide different types of content as well. I could literally go for years just focusing on music related guests…that’s just how much talent we have in the 518. One of my goals is to also have business owners, politicians, activists etc. I wanna have a good balance to appeal to different interests. You may even see a stripper or two. lol
RRX: You’re a DJ, and some people know the skill that goes into what you do, but some people, when they think ‘DJ,’ they recall their wedding DJ who basically had a big mp3 collection and a repertoire of friendly patter. But that’s really not what you do. Can you give us a ‘day in the life’ of a particularly ass-busting set?
WH: A great set is a memorable one. Our job as DJ’s is to create and set different moods. We can make people smile, we can make people cry too. Ultimately we want people dancing and having a great experience non-stop. There’s nothing better than taking a crowd on a journey being in full control of people’s moods, memories and emotions to the degree where they never forget the great time that they had!
RRX: Freestyle. I’m envious of anybody who can do it. Big green monster jealousy. I mean, at some point, all writers are freestyling, but to do it in front of people, so fast, so ‘right there.’ Was there any one or more things that you learned along the way that helped you be able to freestyle? Is it all confidence, or are there hacks?
WH: You know what? I’ve never really considered myself a great freestyler. Freestyling is an amazing skill to have but I’ve always excelled more putting the pen to paper. I do think every emcee should at least know how…. it can get you out of some sticky situations if done right.
RRX: Here is where you answer the questions I didn’t ask. Turntables or software? Best headphones under fifty bucks? Educate, enlighten, emote – the floor is yours.
WH: I came up on turntables. I scratch way better on turntables. You can use turntables and software at the same time though. It allows you access to all your music without having to lug vinyl around, software has changed the game…. it allows you to do many of the same things just faster. Headphones under $50? lol I wish…..