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The Key to Killing It In the Music Industry? Be Yourself.

Meet Chad Kidd, more commonly known as Dirty Rich Kidd and MOTHERSHIP’S signature DJ. Using a surreal combination of hiphop and EDM, Dirty Rich Kidd weaves together an epic tapestry of musical selections that inspire movement, growth, and connection. You can jam out to Dirty Rich Kidd this year at MOTHERSHIP. Until then, we’ve taken the liberty of sitting down with Chad and getting the scoop on her story, her inspiration, common hardships, and how to overcome doubt and trust your gut.

Let’s talk about your origin story. How did you get started in music? 

Music has been a constant for me since birth, I guess you could say. My mom’s and my father’s side of the family had deep ties in the music industry going as far back as the day of Motown. My father is a musician and music producer so I always grew up with music being played, loudly, in my house. Haha. My father had a pretty cool vinyl collection that contained everything from Sinatra, AC/DC, Sly and the Family Stone to Dr. Dre. I just remember being fascinated by the cover art and started collection vinyl myself—mostly old Madonna records. I started playing guitar then at 19 I bought myself some cheap CDJs, taught myself to DJ and the rest is history. And what’s the journey been like since then?

It’s been interesting to say the least. Before I get into any gripes about my personal journey as a DJ I just want to say I’m absolutely grateful I get to do this for a living. I had a friend tell me recently “you have a job that impacts people’s lives,” being able to provide the soundtrack for folks to have a good time, be carefree, let loose after a tough week or work, caring for the children, going through a break up or celebrating something monumental in their lives is pretty awesome. I’ve seen folks meet for the first time and fall in love on the dance-floor…  Even if it only lasts for that night that’s something pretty special to be part of!

“Most importantly it’s my job to keep folks dancing.”

To the nitty gritty—one of my first “real” gigs as a DJ was (of course) in West Hollywood. I secured a residency, wow, this was almost 10 years ago—I feel old! So as I mentioned previously, I’ve got a pretty diverse taste in music, but as a DJ, it’s my job to be ahead of whats trending, give folks what they know and love, but also introduce them to new, fun music. But most importantly it’s my job to keep folks dancing.

Having been a patron of WEHO for a few years I noticed none of the clubs were playing hiphop, and if they did it was super corny. I never have to hear Montel Jordan’s “This Is How We Do It” again, I’ll die happy. So I started playing hiphop and that didn’t go over well with the owners, managers, and promoters. I was told to lighten it up and play pop music. And in my head I’m like, “hmm last time I checked the Billboard charts, the top charting songs/artists were hiphop so wouldn’t that make it pop music??”

But then I noticed white, non-black, or femme-presenting black DJs were allowed to play hiphop or perform entire hiphop sets, no problem. I realized what I was facing. Long story short: My formative DJ years were spent trudging through adversity and breaking down walls one beat at a time. I was a loud mouthed young DJ who wasn’t gonna take shit from anyone who had an issue with me being a black masculine-presenting hiphop DJ. I knew I was good at what I did and the people wanted it. Thankfully I stuck to my convictions and have gotten some amazing bookings because of it. What inspires you when working playing live? 

Above all else the energy of the people. It can be an entire crowd or it can be that one person I see vibing out to every single song. Or that one person who knows all of the words to “The Boy Is Mine” or all of the choreography to Ciara or Beyoncé. I’ll keep my eye on them and play for them. And find ways to make them get excited about the next song through the way I transition.

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Do you have any creative influences? 

My mom. She’s no longer with us. But she was my number one supporter. There have been times I wanted to give up, but I know she’d never let me.

Also folks like A-trak, DJ AM (RIP), and Girltalk who managed to introduce a previously unwilling, prejudiced crowd to hiphop.

What struggles have you faced in your career thus far?Hmm aside from what I said earlier? There’s this blog/twitter/whatever the youth is calling it these days titled “DJsComplaining” so I’m gonna do some of that! 

1. Equipment not working. I used to play vinyl and I’d show up to some of the biggest clubs in Hollywood and the engineer would be like, “so only one turntable works and even that gets stuck sometimes so you’ve gotta hit it if it does.” Haha just ridiculous! This was before I got my own gear to take from venue to venue. If something fails and the music cuts out everyone is looking at the DJ like they’re incompetent. It is very rarely our fault.

2. Whenever I’m working with artists 9/10 they never have their music ready. Artists please have your music ready. Nothing more stressful than trying to load someone’s tracks when you’re actively playing to the crowd. Especially when whatever they bring you isn’t studio quality and it sounds like crap and again folks look at the DJ like, “wth is going on?”

3. CisMale engineers even patrons thinking I don’t know what I’m doing. I set up my own equipment everywhere I go because I bring my own mixer/controller. Engineers freak out like I’m gonna drastically mess something up until I tell them “I’ve been doing this for 10 years.” I’ve seen femme DJ friends of mine have dudes mess with the levels on their mixer because of course he knows better. NEVER TOUCH A DJS MIXER.

I’m done complaining.

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What’s a typical day look like for? Do you have any specific routines? 

A typical day is checking my emails constantly. Having ADHD makes remembering and keeping track of things difficult, but I try my best.

In the summer, I’ll often have two gigs a day. On those days I try to stay hydrated, eat, and not drink so much. I recently started learning coding/web development so I’ve been carving out time for that when I’m not DJing.

What are you most looking forward to this year?

I’m getting married, so planning all of that stuff. It’s unbelievable in the best way. I’m excited.

I’ve heard you like to utilize social media as a place to gripe, laugh, and discuss injustice can you tell me more about that? 

What folks don’t know is that I’ve always been this way. I come from a mixed race family and my mom made it a point to teach me all about the history that isn’t taught in school. She wanted to make sure I knew what I was getting into as a black woman in America. She said I’d go around as a kid singing James Brown “I’m Black and I’m Proud.” I had a teacher in junior high refer to me as young Angela Davis. So I’ve always been vocal.

I used to think the whole women’s intuition thing was corny, but it’s real—TRUST IT.

Social media just provided me a larger audience. I just say what’s on my mind—but then people started reaching out and thanking me for speaking out, thanking me for opening their eyes to things they hadn’t considered before. So that’s pretty special. But I’ve also had folks tell me I should probably chill because it would mess with my bookings as a DJ and I said I don’t want to work with those people anyway. *Shrugs.*

 What do you like about playing MOTHERSHIP? 

I like what MOTHERSHIP is doing. It’s hard to cultivate a space and truly represent EVERYONE. But I think they’re doing a great job thus far. I appreciate the space they’re creating—the space we all help create there. I believe in MOTHERSHIP’S mission and I’m excited to see it mature and develop throughout time.

Do you think women + non-binary spaces are important?

They are extremely important. I like to think I wouldn’t have to face the issues I did when I started out as a DJ 10 years ago had I been in these spaces. But unfortunately race and prejudices are still issues in LGBTQ, trans, and non-binary spaces—so who knows. But yes, they are extremely important.

 What advice would you share with women interested in pursuing a career in the music industry?

JUST DO IT. And really do it. Don’t doubt yourself. I used to think the whole women’s intuition thing was corny, but it’s real—TRUST IT. Trust your talent and your ambition. Mediocre men don’t think they’re mediocre and they’re out here doing it. So go out there, be loud, be you, and kick ass.

 What are your dreams for the future and how do you see us getting there?

My biggest issue right now is fighting racism, femme erasure, and transphobia in the gay/lesbian community. The queer community seems to be doing a bit better with the issue. So my dream would be not having to fight this fight any more. The only way to get there is through education and folks shedding their ignorance. But ya know some people just suck.

by Amanda Kohr