When DJ Prince and I first talked, he had won the AFRIMMA 2022 Best African DJ USA Award less than a week ago and his energy was infectious. However, a few days later, when we did talk over the phone I realized that what I first thought was excitement was passion. Talking to him his passion for music is clear and it is that passion that has within a few short years catapulted him to the top of the game.
Born Chibuzor Prince Kalu in Abia State, Nigeria, DJ Prince would eventually move to North Eastern University where he got his Bachelor’s degree first and then his Master’s degree. This move allowed him to get what he considers the best of both worlds, combining his Nigerian roots with global sensibilities that would go on to inform his work as a DJ. In 2016, DJ Prince fell into DJing after needing to cover for an absent choir master. While it was chance that got him into the industry, it was his passion that kept him. Today, DJ Prince has played with Yemi Alade, Joeboy, Mayorkun, Wande Coal, Flavor, Rema, Omah Lay, Fireboy, and Davido amongst others and even more recently, just earned the AFRIMMA Award for Best DJ USA 2022.
Here, we spoke to DJ Prince about growing up, getting into music and what is next for him.
What was growing up like for you?
I grew up in Nigeria and I went to boarding school in Nigeria. I grew up halfway, in Nigeria and then moved to America which makes the answer to what growing up was like kind of complex. I like to say I had the best of both worlds because I was raised in the traditional Nigerian style and then the modern Western style but it came together to shape me.
How did you get into music?
I got into music five years ago, or six years ago. I was in the church choir and the choirmaster at the time was also the church’s event DJ. He handled the music at events and things like that. So with me being in the choir, I was exposed to that and learnt a bit from him. And then there was a situation where he wasn’t able to make it to a couple of events, I think he was out of town. And I was the only one who knew how to set up the equipment that he was using to play for the church’s social events and stuff. So I was charged with the responsibility of taking care of the entertainment aspect of the events. And from that responsibility, I became curious about DJing and that made me dive deep into the artistry of DJing. I started wanting to learn more, so I started going to YouTube, learning how to transition, how to load music, and how to scratch. I was learning from YouTube in 2016. And I had a friend of mine who I would also shadow and learn the techniques of artistry. And yeah, so by 2017, I gave it a go full-time.
What was it like winning the AFRIMMA Best DJ Award 2022?
I want to say it was a dream come true. I want to say the general cliche, it was a dream come true. But I didn’t dream of it. I didn’t see myself, especially in this short time as a DJ winning. Especially coming from the corporate world and working nine to five and then coming into the entertainment field. Winning the award is the kind of success you have after ten or fifteen years in the game and not five. So for me to have even been nominated, I felt like I was on top of the world already. I was so happy.
What was the support like from your fans and family to win this award?
This award is an award for the fans. It’s fan-voted and when my fans saw that I was nominated, they were very happy and excited to vote. I was getting calls from back home in Nigeria and calls from friends back here in America. Everyone was just voting, everyone was just reaching out and was just offering praises, support, whatever it is, you could do so I felt That made it feel like winning the award wasn’t for me. It was more like okay, we got it, and that we did this proves that in a very short time anything is possible if you put your mind into a walk towards it. The nomination for me was there like it was my win, it was my satisfaction because that is the board deciding that okay, he’s credible enough and he has a resume that backs up a nomination.
After achieving this, what goals would you like to achieve in the next five years?
In the next five years, I want to be the biggest DJ that comes out of Africa. I want to have a catalog that warrants that status, and I want to have a music library that shows the versatility of African music. And I want to be able to produce my records. I want to work with music legends and still platform new artists. I just want to make music that touches the soul and just defines what African music is all about. And have the music be well-received around the world.
Who are your biggest musical inspirations or career inspirations?
For sure, Davido is one. I would say Davido, Burna Boy and Flavour.
What’s the best advice you’ve gotten from someone else working in the music industry?
The best advice I have gotten is that nobody’s your friend in the industry. Everybody wants the spotlight and because of that, you can not always be at the top. Someone is always coming for that position. So if you want to stay on top, you have to do whatever it takes to maintain that position. That’s probably one of the best pieces of advice I’ve gotten. Amongst the many. I’ve also got advice like, remaining humble and staying ready when the opportunity comes. But also, a life-changing piece of advice I got from a friend is that the biggest limitation you can have in life is the person in the mirror. You have to look into yourself and say what you want and not only say it, but believe it, and act upon it.