DJ Irie: Life in the Fast Lane
Ian Grocher, AKA DJ Irie, guns the accelerator on a fire-engine-red 2010 Ferrari 599 GTB as he heads south on I-95. It's June 22, two days after his 34th birthday, and he is in high gear. The exotic sports car is a loaner that the Saint Croix-born DJ is borrowing for his charity golf tournament.
"I love cars," Irie notes. "I've had a Bentley and an Aston Martin. I wish I could keep the Ferrari." But it's not like he schleps around in a beat-up Toyota. His garage houses a Range Rover, a Denali, and a Lamborghini. Those toys belong to him.
"I couldn't have dreamed of a better life," he says, sporting an infectious grin. "I will never take it for granted."
When it comes to DJs, Irie is at the top of the game. He has toured the States with Jamie Foxx, played Robert Downey Jr.'s birthday party in Los Angeles, and put in studio time with Miami Dolphins wide receiver Brandon Marshall. He has also chilled with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh. And that's just in the past nine months.
Not bad for a guy whose DJ career began as a big, fat lie to impress a girl. It was 1993, when he was a freshman majoring in communications at Florida International University. A friend brought his crush to Irie's house. "When I was a kid, I fell in love with the snap, crackle, and pop you hear when the needle hits vinyl," Irie recalls. "So I had over 2,000 records in my bedroom. I was so petrified this girl was going to think I was a dork."
Instead, when the young lady walked into his lair, she exclaimed, "I didn't know you were a DJ!" Irie didn't clarify that he was merely a record collector. "It got worse from there because she asked me to DJ her parents' New Year's Eve party," he recollects. "I was in full panic mode. But apparently, I rocked the party because her dad offered me a job [as a club DJ]."
Today, when he's not touring, Irie is the official DJ for Miami Heat home games and holds court with South Beach promoters Tommy Pooch and Alan Roth at their regular Tuesday-night dinner party at the Delano Hotel. He also owns Artists Related, a talent management company that books 13 local DJs for celebrity parties, nightclub gigs, and corporate shindigs. "There are a lot of supertalented DJs, but they don't have the first clue how to get in front of the right people to book them," he says.
As Irie zooms into the express lanes at 80 mph, a passenger can't help but stare at the sparkly, diamond-encrusted Miami Heat 2006 championship ring on his finger. "Man, Charles Barkley and LeBron James don't have one of these," he boasts. "Yet I got one just from playing with two turntables and a mixer. I have to pinch myself sometimes to believe it."
And if the Miami Heat win the title this season, Irie will still have one more ring than King James.
Garrett Wittels | Bernice Steinbaum>>
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