Radio personality, entrepreneur, Super DJ, and staple in the San Diego community are just a few of the hats that Bille Knight aka ‘Mr. Key to the City’ has worn while ascending to the top of San Diego’s entertainment throne. As one of San Diego’s hottest DJ’s for the better part of two decades, DJ Bille Knight has been across the globe and back again, playing at countless venues in a list of cities and countries that would impress your average travel agent. Opening for some of today’s hottest acts and some of hip-hop music’s brightest stars, a list which includes Black Eyed Peas, Nas, the Wu-Tang Clan, TI, DJ Quik, and Busta Rhymes, Bille Knight has shared the stage with music royalty…multiple times.
DJ Bille has performed at a list of venues that reads like a phone book; however it isn’t what he has done in the past that is impressing his peers, it is what he plans to do to help secure San Diego’s hip-hop future that has earned the music community’s respect. DJ Bille Knight is approaching his status as one of San Diego’s ‘go-to’ entertainers humbly with a pay it forward mentality. Bille Knight intends on placing San Diego’s hip-hop scene on his back and has set the wheels in motion via his artist development company which will assist these up and coming entertainers throughout San Diego and fill a giant void in the hip-hop community. With how much this entertainer has contributed to San Diego, Mayor Jerry Sanders may actually throw him the key to the city one day.
One on One with DJ Bille Knight
Solomon Osayande: Lets start with the basics, how did you get your start being a dj?
DJ BILLE KNIGHT: The barter system…
SO: How long have you been out in San Diego?
BK: Ive been out here pretty much my whole life, moved out here when I was 10 years old from Venice beach.
SO: I see your twitter says “Mr Key to the city”. When did the mayor throw you the key? (haha)
BK: Its kind of a key that I have been able to establish myself through knowing people, making contacts…shaking hands and kissing babies, doing a lot of stuff for the community, educating on the DJ game…even though the keys were not officially given to me, in a way I still have them.
SO: I see that you’re a Redbull dj, and a Bumsquad dj, can you tell me a little about that?
BK: I had a friend that was a rep for Red bull, they were putting on an event at Qualcomm for Super Cross and asked if I could come dj at their booth, ever since that ive been involved in a lot of Red bull events going on throughout the community.
Ive been with Bumsquad since the beginning, were now over 500 dj’s deep nationwide. It’s a good way to reach out to other dj’s and get feedback from them…when I go to one of their cities I can get a gig and vice versa. It has also opened some doors for me and allowed me to meet people that I would not have normally been able to meet.
SO: What are some of your favorite places to spin?
BK: I did a club out here for 5 years called the BK lounge, if the new Tupac or new Biggie came out we were playing it, it was more like tribe called quest, de la soul…a lot of hip-hop music, we built up a large following. We do it once a month now out at El Camino in lil Italy, it’s a place where I can go and play music where I love. I also play at a place called the Sand Bar in Mission Beach, is real casual and people are just partying and that place has a real cool vibe.
SO: Where is the craziest place that you have spun at?
BK: The craziest place that I have spun at had to be the Dominican Republic.
SO: Ummmm, What was so crazy about it?
BK: Well if you know anything about he Dominican Republic….let’s just say if you have ever been there, you’d know.
SO: What’s your favorite genre to spin?
BK: 90’s hip-hop, acid jazz, neo soul.
SO: Who are some of your favorite DJ’s?
BK: Cash money from Philadelphia, DJ Premier, Kid Cupri always put on a good show.
SO: I see that you also manage talent; tell me a little about the artist and dj that you manage?
BK: Robb Grimes is an artist that I started working with, he used to hit me up all the time, didn’t really give him the time of the day at first, but one day when I headed up to LA for a music conference, they had some performances and Rob Grimes happened to be there, I saw the talent and ever since that day on we’ve just been working together, he moved to Atlanta to work with Bangladesh for like 3 months, now Bangladesh is overseeing his whole project.
With Wendy Cakes, she started out as an intern at the radio station, I started managing her and told her if your serious you will buy the equipment, she put in a lot of work. I got her a residency at the Mandalay bay at the pool every Sunday and she dj’s in the club every night on Fridays and Saturdays, she is actually out in Tokyo right now.
SO: Where can people go to stay up-to-date on what’s happening with Bille Knight?
BK: My twitter page (@djbilleknight), facebook (facebook.com/deejay.knight.3), and my website is currently under construction.
SO: What’s next for Bille Knight?
BK: I’m starting an artist search once a month, it will take place every Tuesday. I’m going to set up a youstream where artists can get some constructive criticism…I’m going to be on them tough, be prepared to get some realness.
I’m also starting an artist development and management company called 1Umbrella, I feel that there is a void in San Diego for artists…I feel that is why an artist hasn’t made it from here, the music business has more to it than just music, there is a business aspect that most artists don’t know or aren’t even aware of. Artists have got to know the business so they can take the rights steps by talking to the people that they’re supposed to talk to and making the kind of music that they are supposed to be making. I am going to help artists bridge that gap. There are probably more opportunities for me in other cities but there is a void to be filled in San Diego and I can atleast open some doors for the next DJ that comes after me.
SO: Any shout outs that you would like to give?
BK: Shout out all the artists in San Diego, the company 1umbrella, Rob Grimes and the whole family.
SO: Any advice for up and comers?
BK: Respect the other dj’s that have been there, don’t undercut the veterans…we worked hard to get where we are. Stay humble in whatever you do, if you stay humble doors will open for you, try and stay cool with everyone and things will work out for you.