Michigan's Mixtape King, DJ Graffiti, talks business and Blackness
Michigan’s DJ Graffiti has his hand in so many pots that it’s hard to describe his contributions to the Michigan’s music scene in one interview. As a DJ, marketing and promotions guy, and a graduate of the University of Michigan’s Law School and Business School, he’s been able to successfully earn respect at both the corporate and street level. As a DJ, he’s shared the stage with numerous stars, put out several mix CDs, and performed in countless venues. As corporate America continues to strengthen its hold on hip hop, Graffiti, known in these circle as Martin Smith, has used his marketing ventures to ensure that the hip hop community maintains some control of this multi-billion dollar business.
Over the years Graffiti and I have become good friends, so if you’re wondering about bias, yes, it’s here. Then again, like many other people whose work that I respect, we’ve become friends because we connect at a personal level. Incidentally, I kind blew him off when he first introduced himself to me in the late ‘90s when I was DJing a function at the University of Michigan’s Trotter House. It wasn’t personal, I was just burnt out on hip hop, DJing, and Michigan in general. However, we did stay in touch and from time to time we still share equipment or collaborate on other projects and often get into long discussions about life and music. This go around I was passing through Ann Arbor and was able to catch him while he was preparing for a gig that night at the Blind Pig.