If there's one head spinner in town who just might one day claim the fame enjoyed by DJ Khaled, it's DJ Epps. Like Khaled, Epps is affiliated with some of the biggest names in the business of hip-hop. Both have been on the grind for some time, and both are committed to ambition.
Unlike Khaled, though, who hails from the Big Easy, Epps was born and bred in the Big Bad Apple. But we in the 305 won't hold it against him. Hell, Epps counts Manhattan hot spots such as the Red Zone and the Palladium as venues he played during his comeup. He also counts legendary New York DJs such as Red Alert, Clark Kent, and Kid Capri pretty much as family. So for all of that, we might even give him a pass.
What concerns us most right now is that Epps has been a fixture in South Florida nightclubs for a decade and a half. But our fabled strip of sand is only a fraction of the story, which stretches from coast to coast and threatens to take over the whole wild world.
DJ Epps: Thursday, April 22, at the Vagabond, Miami. Friday, April 23, at B.E.D., Miami Beach. Saturday, April 24, at Club Play, Miami Beach. Sunday, April 25, at the Chop Shop Barbershop block party at the Chop Shop, Miami; djepps.net
Epps got his South Beach start at the Sugar Shack in the '90s. Strolling down Washington Avenue one night, he began chatting with Richard Filippi, currently of Grass/The King Is Dead, who was manning the door and overseeing much of the Shack's action. Filippi gave Epps his first shot at the prime time, and Epps's aim was true enough to earn him a residency.
Soon came Epps's many guest appearances on DJ Laz's Power 96 morning show and slots at fabled parties such as Fat Black Pussycat (when it was at Liquid) and NFA (when it was everywhere). Fast-forward to the present, when you can hear him for five straight days and nights rocking the third annual DJ Epps Week.
That's right, this week Epps will booth up everywhere from the Living Room (né the Strand) to Club Play (formerly the Fifth). Then he'll end the festivities with a Flo-Rida-headlined block-party throwdown on the grounds surrounding the Chop Shop Barbershop on Biscayne Boulevard at NE 72nd Street. There will be back-to-back DJs, wall-to-wall record execs, and floor-to-ceiling talent, some shopping, some already signed, and all in for what they can get out of a hard-knock life. Call it a mini-WMC for hip-hop heads and heavies. But don't dare call it a draw, because Epps and those who crowd around him don't do tie games.
This week's spin is only the beginning of what Epps is on a roll to unleash. Tapped by Eminem and Whoo Kid to be the Miami rep for Shadyville DJs, Epps is responsible for helping to break whatever's next on the label's roster. And his and Two Ten Jack's Nightbreederz Entertainment has been a one-stop hype shop for nearly a decade; it racks all kinds of rap action, including what comes out of G-Unit. In fact, Epps is one of 50 Cent's official DJs. The team also represents the likes of Swazy Styles, who's signed to the aforementioned Laz's VIP Records and whose "Birthday Suit" can be heard blaring all over Power 96.
And though Epps excels in the realm of hip-hop, he's known to throw everything from "Shots" by LMFAO and Lil Jon to David Guetta's Akon-driven "Sexy Bitch." Epps says with all the cross-country and cross-pond work he gets, he's gotta keep the format open. And as a DJ, he's duty-bound to go all over the place.
Still, it is to the streets that Epps seems to be most tied, and those streets happen to be in the 305. A couple of years ago, 305HipHop.com even followed the cat around town, from crib to club and back again. And such stalking can still be found on YouTube, on the channel EppsTV. With an LP called Follow Me ready for an imminent drop, and a week's worth of parties poppin' off, that camera is gonna get a good workout. And one gets the distinct impression this kingpin DJ wouldn't want it any other way.
DJ Epps's current top five:
1. "Beamer, Benz, or Bentley," Lloyd Banks
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2. "Drop the World," Lil Wayne feat. Eminem
3. "Sweat," Casely feat. Lil Jon and Machel Montano
4. "Birthday Suit," Swazy Styles feat. DJ Epps
5. "Nothing on You," B.o.B. feat. Bruno Mars