In this BFW exclusive, mixtape legend DJCHILLWILL from the Eastside talks growing ups in Harlem, the mixtape game, Hector ‘Macho’ Camacho and more.
The Hip Hop culture and music as a whole have always been involved with the sport of boxing in some way, shape, or form, as far back as anyone can remember. As the matchup or fighter grows within the popular culture, the sport attracts those famous for their contributions as an artist. As Big Fight Weekend continues to do these features that shine a light on those artists like Papoose, this one will focus on someone right in the thick of it during the early ’80s and into the ’90s, which many consider the golden era of boxing. I can only be speaking of the legendary DJCHILLWILL from the EastSide also known DJCHILLWILL FTE.
Although many may look at his name being displayed as grammatically incorrect, he has to do this because there are others with similar names. He needed to separate himself not only by name but also by style. DJCHILLWILL from the Eastside grew up in the Bronx during the 70s, where things were pretty crazy in the streets. Drugs, building fires, police brutality and corruption were part of the NYC culture, and Hip Hop was introduced for all to consume, which would change history forever. While still a young kid, he and his family packed their stuff and moved to Harlem, where DJCHILLWILL FTE would later become a mixtape king.
When thinking about that time, DJCHILLWILL from the Eastside lived in Jefferson Houses on 115th Street between 1stand 2nd Avenue. Aa a teen, he got his first record player, and from there, DJCHILLWILL FTE knew he wanted to be involved with music. During his childhood, like most kids in NY at the time, his father was a big fan of the sweet science, so naturally, DJCHILLWILL FTE was interested in the sport.
After moving again, DJCHILLWILL FTE would then be at a place where he would run into a living legend at the time; Hector ‘Macho’ Camacho. “He (Camacho) used to go see his mom, who lived right in the projects across from mine. Every time he came from Puerto Rico, he (Camacho) would come back with a fancy car.
Back in the day, all the kids would say, ‘That’s my car’ when seeing a fancy car, so when he came around, we would all do that. He was captivating. He was the type of guy that would come outside, and when kids approached him, he would give them money. Everyone would crowd around him and would be excited to see him. We would always know it was him; after a fight, he would visit his mom, and there would be this big commotion.”
For those reading this who don’t know, Camacho was a larger-than-life fighter ahead of his time when it came to being known in pop culture. Whether it was his ring attire, the huge ‘Macho” medallion, or the hair twist down his forehead that annoyed so many fighters, Camacho set a trend that would last for years. This summer, there will be a street named after him, which in my opinion, is long overdue for the three-division champion who is also in the International Boxing Hall of Fame.
Getting back to DJCHILLWILL from the Eastside and fast-forwarding to High School, he attended Art & Design, a difficult school to get into in NYC. His specialty while there was architecture and cartooning. After High School, DJCHILLWILL FTE didn’t attend college but pursued being a DJ while watching and studying those who would do it in the projects for different events. Regarding how he got his start or the concept of his style, DJCHILLWILL FTE told Big Fight Weekend, “So, my grandfather was a big jazz collector, and that’s one of my musical backgrounds. He was in a basement, always playing a lot of jazz music. Then being from the Bronx to “El Barrio,” I was around different cultures of people. Being around a lot of Latinos, it gave me different cultures to choose from. I’m from that cloth. So me being a DJ, I was one of the first to come up with mixing it all back in the 80s into the 90s.”
DJCHILLWILL FTE continued, “If you were a DJ, it was kind of segregated. I don’t know how I came up with it (Creating a unique mixtape blending R&B, Reggae & HipHop). I came up with something called “The Masterpeace”, and I was also doing intros along with blending different music. The intro would be me as an artist writing and producing my music. I then would play the music and blend it all in on one mixtape.”
Being in NY and even now, everything is territorial, and with DJing, it was no different. The West Side of Harlem consisted of The Apollo, Cotton Club, and predominantly African American. On the Eastside, it was primarily Latinos and African Americans. DJCHILLWILL FTE was making a name for himself, and his Masterpeace mixtapes became one of the most demanded mixtapes in the early 90s. Although other famous figures shared similar DJ names, he was able to solidify that he was from the Eastside of Harlem and that he was creating something that would set the trend for others to emulate in later years.
Things took a turn for the worst, and after his mother passed away, DJCHILLWILL FTE had a lapse in judgment involving his business of mixtapes, which led to him getting incarcerated for five years. DJCHILLWILL from the Eastside came home in 2001 and used that hard life lesson as a reason to get his business together and keep his mind in a positive state. He picked up where he left off with the mixtapes, and to those fans of his work, it was as if he never left.
As the mixtape game became saturated and the world moved from tapes to CDs, to MP3s, and now streaming, DJCHILLWILL FTE had to find a way to continue to evolve. For him, that meant starting CHILLWILLMUSIC LLC., which stems from being a DJ and an artist. “It’s actually a DJ service (Corporate Events, Weddings, etc.), but I also have a clothing brand (Mixtapes and Tees) too.” Within the next few years, DJCHILLWILL FTE wants to use his company to create jobs and have artists under his umbrella.
Lastly, DJCHILLWILL from the Eastside has evolved and is still a significant contributor to the hip-hop culture, but it took plenty of hard work. Before getting off the call, he had some advice for those seeking a career in DJing. “Stay focused on the things you want to do. We are in different times where there are a lot of distractions. Don’t be distracted. Don’t let anyone talk you out of what you want to do. You have to stick with it. Look at my story. I’ve made mistakes, but I came back and still doing things with passion.”
DJCHILLWILL from the Eastside grew up around a Boxing legend and became one in his own right as a DJ in a world where it’s super competitive, and politics plays a significant role in whether you get a shot or not. DJCHILLWILL FTE created his own opportunity and continues to do it his way, and with his passion, he will continue to evolve with the ever-changing culture while still seeing success.