Plies--the gold-selling Florida rapper famous for a string of hits including "Shawty," "Bust It Baby Pt 2," and "Lose My Mind"--will be at The Ambassador in North County this Saturday night, continuing a who's who list of top rap acts to play the club in recent months including Jeezy, Rick Ross, T.I., 8Ball & MJG, Mystikal and Birdman (6 p.m., $30-$40-$60). Hosting the live taping of the show for St. Louis's Video Vault TV is none other than Brittneé Bell--a.k.a. DJ Jewel--far and away the freshest face on the city's hip-hop and party scene.
Ambitious, savvy, and driven--not to mention beautiful--DJ Jewel got her start hosting her own radio show on KCFV FM's 89.5 "The Wave," and quickly made a name for herself as a top music interviewer. Her next stop was at HOT 104.1, where she spent a year sitting in with local legends Finsta and DJ Sno on their much-loved STL Home Jamz show before it was cut. RFT Music covered the controversy.
Currently hosting "Jewel Box Radio" on UMSL's "The U" Sundays from 6-8 p.m., DJ Jewel has interviewed nearly everyone in St. Louis hip-hop and R&B--including Murphy Lee, Chingy, Gena, Aloha, and Bradd Young, just to name a few--all while finishing an undergraduate degree, raising a six-year-old son, and doing street team promotions for St. Louis's AMP Marketing. She's also the newest member of Allstar DJ's, recently spinning at the Loft, the In Spot, and the City.
RFT Music caught up last week with DJ Jewel at Three Kings in the Delmar Loop to talk about her interviewing techniques, how to break through in music, and some seriously big dreams. Questions and answers have been edited for clarity and length.
Tony D'Souza: You sound great on the radio, but in person...Why are you on the radio when you seem so ready-made for TV?
DJ Jewel: [Laughing] I want to do both. As a kid, I wanted to be the next 'weathergirl.' But I also loved listening to the radio. While I was at Flo Valley (Florissant Valley Community College) in 2007, I had an option to do radio or television as an elective. I chose radio because I love music.
So that's where you got your start?
I graduated Hazelwood Central high school, then went to Flo Valley and earned my associates degree in broadcast journalism. I submitted a demo and air check to Tim Gorry, the manager of 89.5, and first did a show with a guy named 'El Presidente.' We always broke the rules, Tim was always calling in and saying, 'You can't do that!'
What were you doing?
Switching rock for hip-hop. [Laughing]. After that, I had my own four-hour specialty show starting in 2009 and began having artists in the studio.
How did you come up with your on-air handle, 'DJ Jewel'?
This guy was hitting on me; it wasn't working. But he said, 'Even though you're not going to give me your number, I still think you're a jewel.' It was a sweet, positive thought. A jewel is something which shines, which is what I plan to do.
What club was that at?
It was a Schnuck's parking lot! HOT 104.1's STL Home Jamz was one of the most popular indie hip-hop programs until it got cut last year. How did you get your year-long spot on that?
Finsta reached out and offered me a chance to sit in with him and DJ Sno. A lot more people were listening than I was used to. The first couple times, I was nervous. Finsta pushed me out in the middle of it, gave me that extra kick. That really helped me.
You've been hosting radio shows for five years and have interviewed pretty much everyone. Can you give us a tip on interviewing?
There's gonna be times when you want ask about a difficult subject. Chose your questions wisely. Know your interviewee, and get a feel for his or her comfort level. You have to be crafty.
You've been spinning yourself, at some great clubs and for UCME's Topher Jones. How did you transition to turntables?
DJ Homicide DJed my cousin's wedding. I'm not scared and asked for help. I told him I wanted to learn to DJ and it went from there. Now I'm always working. If I'm not shadowing the DJ, I'm DJing myself.
How's the state of hip-hop in St. Louis?
There is so much talent. There's not enough outlets for it. But not everybody wants to blow up. Some people are just fine performing at shows. Not everyone wants to be on BET or MTV. Sometimes it's not about the money; it's about the love of music.
What about you?
Of course I wouldn't mind being on BET! I think I'm taking the right steps. Working with Video Vault TV is helping me step into the broadcast world and giving me a chance to come out from behind the scenes.
Anything else you'd like people to know?
I have an event coming up with Sexy In STL, June 1st, "DJ Jewel and 'Sexy In STL' present Hot Summer Nights." My website is djjewellive.com