DJ-I.C. Dre “Regaining & Rebuilding”
Interviewed and written by Aaron Robinson- Editor
Kankakee, Illinois native DJ-I.C. Dre is not your typical DJ, as he has built an amazing archive DJing for some of the biggest music artist around the world. Inspired by many of the greats at a young age, he set out his goal, believing in his gift to reach a level of success in his career that was unthought of. Unfortunately, life took its toll, allowing the well-known DJ to go down an unfriendly path. Moreover, the pioneer regained his momentum as he was able to bounce back in the game, continuing to be one of the most outstanding DJ’s on the music scene.
I was able to catch up with Andre “DJ-I.C. Dre” Gray to speak about his ambition, determination and inspiration of becoming a DJ. Here is what he had to share.
Aaron Robinson: For those who don’t know, what sparked your interest of wanting to DJ?
DJ-I.C. Dre: I use to watch rap videos all the time and I was just amazed at what they were doing. A couple of guys were Djing at the time influenced me a lot, like Mark O’Neal and Brian O’Neal. I kind of went to the house parties back then and watched them. That really got me into it.
Aaron: When did you realize that you had what it takes to be successful?
DJ-I.C. Dre: When I started DJing for Twista. I entered into a contest in Chicago and won. From there, they [Twista people] were trying to find out where I was at. When we actually found each other, they offered me the opportunity to tour with them. I did that like constantly for 5 to 6 years straight. You know, everybody can tell you you’re good when you’re from the same hometown, but when people outside of town seen it [my ability], that’s when I realized I really had something.
Aaron: While making a global name for yourself what did you do differently or persistently from any of your counterparts?
DJ-I.C. Dre: Basically, I just branched out and took different avenues. I took a break from DJing for a while and I actually put on events myself just to see the whole atmosphere from a different angle. If I weren’t doing events, I would go to people’s events to see how they were putting on their events. I would try to emulate that and take it to the next level. My love was still in DJing, so I got back into the DJ thing and kept doing a lot of events and booking a lot of events.
Aaron: As a Producer/DJ, do you think it’s more of a challenge to thrive in the music industry today as oppose to when you started?
DJ-I.C. Dre: It’s not more of a challenge. It’s just more of finding your niche. Find out what you’re putting out, what you’re creating and work with it the best. See, you can make tracks, but it may not fit the in-person. You just gotta kind of find what works best for your chemistry.
Aaron: You have performed, toured and met many artist in your career. What artist do you think has made a significant impact on your life or career?
DJ-I.C. Dre: From a DJ stand point, it definitely has to be Jazzy Jeff, Premier and DJ Scratch…all those famous pioneer DJ’s on the scratch side. I learned a lot from Run DMC. I did several shows with them and he [Run] kind of got me focused on really developing the craft. Those were kind of the main ones back in the days. We did a lot of stuff with R Kelly as well. I haven’t ever physically sat down [with him] to have a conversation, but just seeing him perform and how he does his thing was kinda like the level I would like to get on.
Aaron: What advice would you give to up-and-coming talents who are striving to make a name for themselves in the music business?
DJ-I.C. Dre: The main thing to do is just stay true to your craft and always practice. Some of these guys nowadays…they still don’t practice. Practice is the key to success. You always got to study what’s out there, [it’s] just like going to school doring your homework. Anytime you’re in the business you gotta to do your homework. You gotta know what new products are out there, what new equipment, who’s hot, etc, etc. That’s all homework. And it makes you develop your craft to stay relevant in the business. That’s the key, staying relevant. You may not be the best rapper, but if you can have a little something on everybody project then you are a relevant artist or producer.
Aaron: What’s next for DJ-I.C. Dre? What can fans expect from you in the near future?
DJ-I.C. Dre: Right now, I’m just trying to work with a guy [by the name of] Sean Butler from Chicago…a soul type rapper, a conscious rapper. Another rapper is Arrogant; he’s out of Chicago. And you actually may see me doing some scratching on Twista new project.
Aaron: Do you have any advice or encouragement for the youth who look for the street for an answer while deterring from doing positive things with their life?
DJ-I.C. Dre: The main thing is to just find out what you’re good at and try to develop that talent. If you have a gift or a talent, find out what you can do to help bring that out to its fullest. The street life is not going to let you do that. Surround yourself with people who are like-minded. I try to surround myself around people that are doing what I want to do. We need that. And sometimes you can find jewels in everything. Imitate and just watch them and find ways to be successful.
Aaron: Would you like to add anything else before we close the interview?
DJ-I.C. Dre: Just check me out on my instagram, instagram.com/djicdre and facebook.com/icdre.