Mixing it up with DJ Rap
Multitalented DJ Rap, whose career exploded in the 1980s British rave scene, is now the No. 1 female DJ in the world
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A natural beauty, DJ Rap is a model
and has done commercials
DJ Rap, born Charissa Saverio, has a resume that can make more than a record spin - she’s the undisputed queen of the hardcore and drum ‘n’ bass scene. She’s the No. 1 female DJ in the world. She just finished filming an independent film. She’s done some modeling for Calvin Klein. She owns two production labels. She’s the first female artist to be sponsored by Playstation, and she has songs featured on Playstation games. She recently composed a promotional track for the launch of Nintendo DS. She appeared on some Twix commercials. She hosted a monthly radio show. And she trains with the country’s top martial arts instructors.
Oh, and did we mention she’s a beauty who is dominating in an industry where sexism still exists?
“You’ve got people promising you things when they really just want to get in your pants,” says Rap. “The way around all that sexism and stuff is to simply make the best music that you can. But there will always be somebody even if you’ve got a 100 hits under your belt, that will come up to you and say like, ‘wow I really think you’re hot, or they’ll say you’re the sexiest DJ in the world, instead of something you would want them to say like I love your music, and all you just want to say is, “go f—off.”
Although on occasion DJ Rap has encountered some rude, shallow individuals who are more concerned with the way she looks rather than what she can bring to the table - or turntable - she says for the most part her fans treat her with tremendous respect.
“I’ve been very fortunate that people show mad love and mad respect,” says Rap. “If they think you’re hot that’s great, but the one thing I love about electronic music and the electronic scene is that I could look like J-Lo, but if I hadn’t got skills then no one would give a s—. It’s one of the things that I love about the scene. Its roots are firmly based on your talent and what you can do.”
While it is undeniable that Rap is the hottest (in both senses of the word) female DJ out there, she’s not into the whole superficial scene. Rap much prefers hanging out in jeans and a T-shirt, perfecting her craft.
“My style is ever-changing, but as for beauty I’m all about natural,” says Rap, who is of Italian, Irish and Malaysian decent. “My hair is natural and everything is natural. As for people, I feel the same way. I look for something ingenious and different. I look for something classic and unforgettable. And I like humor, humor is my favorite thing.”
DJ Rap in her groove, but also records and
DJ Rap’s musical forte is the drum ‘n’ bass, hardcore and house scene, which would make anyone wonder, so why the name DJ Rap? Well, she took the name early on in her career partly because of the hip-hop break-beats she would play, but also so promoters wouldn’t know that she was female when booking gigs. It was a strategic move, and what she later found out, a great business decision.
“The name is a fantastic name for marketing purposes because if you think about how many people Google the word Rap and the word DJ,” she says. “At first I was thinking about changing it, but when I realized it was passing over 250,000 hits to my website just by people who accidentally stumbled on my website I was like, this is a really smart name. And it actually doesn’t make sense because I don’t do rap, which is perfect for me.”
DJ Rap’s career took off pretty much in sync with the whole drum ‘n’ bass and house scene exploded in Europe. As a teenager she discovered the late-‘80s rave scene and began producing drum ‘n’ bass even before there was a name for it. It wasn’t long before Rap began spinning vinyl as well as making it, appearing on pirate radio, DJing at clubs and producing.
“I was just lucky; I was at the right place at the right time, which was the (British) rave scene which, for me, started in 1986,” says Rap. “Then I was just the first female to do what I did, which is why I get all these title things. But that doesn’t mean that it wasn’t happening in other countries at the same time. Definitely when I started there wasn’t even drum ‘n’ bass, it was all house. For me, it was like this was perfect and this is what I want to do.”
DJ Rap actually got her start in the music business not as a DJ, but as a musician. Her very first record Ambience was with a band called The Adored and sold 80,000 copies.
“It was myself and another guy, and we decided that the best way to promote the record was to go to radio stations, and at that time it was all pirated radio stations and all underground,” says Rap. “So that’s how we did it. We promoted the hell out of our record, and I learned to mix on air basically live on the radio stations. Then I just got requests to play gigs and that’s how the DJing started - playing in pubs and tiny places and as the scene started getting bigger. I just started better and better as a DJ and got better bookings.”
She started a label, Proper Talent, in 1995 and her first full album, Intelligence,
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