DJ Vlad (aka “The Butcher”) has been butchering beats for years now. He acquired such a brutal nickname because of his of impeccable producing and mixing skills that kills the mixtape competition. “I came from a production background, so I know how to blend and mix my tapes really well,” he boasted.
With a slew of DJ awards that include Vibe Magazine’s Mixtape Series of the Year, XXL Magazine’s Bootleg of the Year and Justo’s Mixtape Awards’ Mixtape of the Year and Mashup of the Year and Rolling Stone’s No. 3 hip-hop album of all time, DJ Vlad is proof that you can do anything you set your mind to. “When I started DJ’ing, I told myself I was going to be one of the world’s best DJs out there,” he said proudly.
Born-and-raised in Northern California, DJ Vlad didn’t always think a music career was possible and decided to attend UC Berkeley, where he got his degree in computer science. “I thought I was going to do the regular career track,” he said. “At one time, I even had my own computer company, but when the market collapsed in the late ’90s, I felt it was a good opportunity to follow my dreams.”
As a child, DJ Vlad always had an interest in hip-hop culture; he started out as a B-boy, then got into beat productions, which lead him to become a DJ. “I will always remember my first actual DJ performance in front of a crowd,” he reminisced. “I was at Home Depot buying some wires for the system, and a clerk asked me if I wanted to DJ a party he was having that weekend. I didn’t tell him it would be my first gig, but I did it and loved the energy that playing in front of a crowd had.” It was after his first real performance that DJ Vlad knew music was something he wanted to make for the rest of his life.
In a relatively short time, DJ Vlad rose through the ranks of the exclusive DJ world. By the mid-’90s, Vlad used his savvy skills to produce the hottest mixtapes on the West Coast that quickly gained notoriety in the industry, even being the first DJ to release MP3s over the Internet. All the hard work paid off when Vlad moved to New York in 2002 to further his DJ career. After only a few short months in the Big Apple, Vlad was nominated in the 2K2 Mixtape awards—a feat that usually takes most mixtape DJs at least five years to accomplish.