DJ T-Dot has been a staple in the Ottawa scene for many years now. Whether you’re hearing him on the 5 O’clock Traffic Jam on Hot89.9, bringing down the club every week, or catching him at any of the shows he does outside the city he always brings it. CapCity recently had a chance to sit down and talk to T-Dot about being featured on Much Music, wild nights in Cancun, and the rap game in Ottawa.
Capcityhiphop: DJ T-Dot, originally from Calgary. You left there and moved to Ottawa?
T-Dot: Yeah, I left there when I was too young to remember. I moved to Ottawa straight and it’s been my home since then. So it’s Ottawa to the end.
CCHH: What made you start mixing? How did you get into DJing?
T-Dot: My godfather was a DJ, my dad was a DJ, so it’s kinda in my blood. I picked it up when I was 13 years old. I did my first party and made like $150 and it just grew from there.
CCHH: Why’d you choose to stay and DJ in Ottawa?
T-Dot: I like Ottawa. I like the crowd and I know a lot of people here. I got more recognition here than I did in Kingston. The scene’s pretty nice and the money’s good.
CCHH: How long were you in Kingston?
T-Dot: I was in Kingston for three years and that’s where I got my first real DJ club gig. I was spinning every Thursday and it was empty and I just pushed to make it big and it turned into the biggest Thursday night party in the city for two-and- a-half years and then I left and came back to Ottawa and started my takeover.
CCHH: I know you do Obsessions every Saturday but what clubs did you start off playing?
T-Dot: In Ottawa?
T-Dot: Oh Geez. I’ve been through almost every club: Diesel, Sin, Tila’s, Mansion, Studio, Obsession, Lago, Helsinki, shit…My Condo, Suite 34, Industry, pretty much everything.
CCHH: Cool. So DJ “T-Dot”, there’s the obvious association with that city. Why did you not choose to go to Toronto?
T-Dot: I actually didn’t choose that name myself. It was a name given to me in high school just because everyone used to call me T, and then that was when Kardi first came up with the whole T-dot thing so it just went from T to T-Dot because my cousin was B so we were T and B. It was just kind of stupidness like that so it actually has nothing to do with Toronto. It was just that my name was Tyrell so it’s T-Dot, initials.
CCHH: How did you get involved with Hot89.9 then?
T-Dot: I was actually in Cancun playing and Mace was at Hot, he was doing the Fridays. He told me to send in a demo because Hot was getting rid of one of their DJ’s so we made it “One night in Cancun” and sent it over and as soon as we got back we had a meeting and they were like, “Yeah, it’s good to go.” So I’ve been with them three or four years now.
CCHH: What do you enjoy doing more, radio sets and Hot parties or doing your own shows?
T-Dot: I think it’s a little bit of both because with radio sets there’s that connection. You know that 350,000 are listening to you between five and six every single day. But on Saturday it’s a lot more because it’s what people are listening to to get ready to go to the clubs, the cabs are bumpin’ it on the way to the clubs, and a lot of people are listening to us on the radio.
When it comes to club gigs… Club gigs are fun but it can get repetitive, Ottawa likes to hear the same thing over and over but when you switch it up a little bit sometimes they like it and sometimes they don’t. But then when it comes to me going out to like Cancun or something, the big events that I’m on, nothing can top that. There’s no other DJ in the city that I know that say they do a crowd of 10,000 or 12,000 before LMFAO, before 50 Cent, before Sean Paul, before Lil’ Jon, before Pauly D. There’s not too many people in that lane that do that like me and DJ Paq year after year.
CCHH: How did you link up with DJ Paq because he’s another local talent?
T-Dot: Me and Scott Boogie used to be really good friends and Scott Boogie was on Hot when it first came out. Scott used to work with Paq when he was younger and then me and Paq just linked up through Scott after Kingston, he heard about me in Kingston, he said come join the team. Me and him started rocking parties together after that. We were like a group but not really, at that time. We were in Quebec City a couple weekends back and I didn’t know anybody that left the party and didn’t say “Paq and T-Dot killed it.”
CCHH: That was with Pauly D right?
T-Dot: No Pauly D cancelled on us last minute so we had to call Vinny. Vinny drove down from Jersey Shore and honestly it was probably better than DJing with Pauly D because I’ve DJ-ed with Pauly D before and he doesn’t really interact or anything, he just does his thing. Vinny was more interactive, he took mad pictures, he was touching people in the crowd, he was in the DJ booth like, “Yo, play some hood stuff.” There was none of that techno, fist-pumping stuff so it was different. So it was definitely better than getting Pauly.
CCHH: So you’ve done Cancun the last four years. You’re going back this summer, what’s that experience like?
T-Dot: It’s gonna be crazy. I’ve got five bookings. We’re at Sweet one Monday, we got a show at Daddy-O’s, and it’s still unconfirmed but we might be DJing for Lil’ Jon. When I’m down there really and truly, when I’m done the first night that’s when they book us for the next night. It can be everyday or it cane be just one, two gigs. Obviously the beach, we just go and ransack the beach.
CCHH: How did you feel being featured on Much Music for Much Music in Cancun?
T-Dot: I mean it was funny, they kind of disrespected me and let that Girlicious girl talk some trash about me and I’d like to get back at her for that but it is what it is. It was fun, they’re gonna be back down there again and I’ll probably be working with Much Music again on this Cancun trip. I mean it’s pretty dope to know that I was on Much Music and I was on MTV that same year too.
CCHH: Whom else did you meet?
T-Dot: Oh Jeez, Rihanna, 50 Cent, Lil’ Jon, Yung Joc, Fabolous, Fat Joe, Pitbull, Pauly D, Vinny, Situation…It’s a long list, there’s a lot of people but it’s a long list.
CCHH: Who was your favorite person to DJ with?
T-Dot: For me? The best night…fuck who is that gonna be? You know what, one of the best nights was DJing with Clinton Sparks. He’s a great DJ, he’s one of the people that I look up to, his energy is incredibly high. If he’s down that day it doesn’t matter he’ll still go on and rip the stage. That’s something I still need to learn. You might not want to do something that day but the people paid to see you so you need to deliver.
CCHH: For sure. You dropped some big names there before, do you have any crazy stories or experiences you care to reveal to us?
T-Dot: Haha, you know what? Since my girl already knows this story I’m gonna say it. There was this one night in Cancun where Clinton and Yung Joc were doing their performance and I kind of stole the show. You can YouTube the video. But you can see Yung Joc doing the “It’s going down” dance and the crowd was actually looking at me because I had this girl. I don’t know, her booty was insane and she was rocking underwear in the club and she was in the booth and she’s dancing like on my chest and I’m smacking her ass and the crowd wasn’t even watching Joc, they were all looking at me smack this girl’s ass and the performance I was doing. That’s one of many haha. The rest might get me in trouble.
CCHH: What’s on the agenda for this year?
T-Dot: I know some artists who are going to be out in Cancun with us that I can’t reveal because Much Music has my tongue tied but we’re doing some shows in Punta Cana as well. There’s some stuff lined up for Daytona, we’re going to be doing another Jersey show in Quebec City, some shows in Montreal and that brings us right up to about May.
CCHH: Anything going on overseas?
T-Dot: Nothing overseas yet. We tried getting into Spain this summer but it’s a lot harder over there.
CCHH: Coming back to the local talent, what do you think about the rap game in Ottawa?
T-Dot: The rappers can rap, it’s just that the one thing I see that they don’t have is the grind; the proper grind to get their message across. Facebook is a good tool to get your name out and everything but the whole posting on someone’s wall to try to get them to play your song is not the way to go about it. I don’t go to Nike and put my shoe idea on their front door. I send an email to the head of the business and say, “Yo this is what I want to do.” So you have to come off as a business because hip-hop is a business regardless so you have to come off as a businessman. No one is going to give you play if they think you’re a childish gimmick.
If someone takes the time to send me a personal message and say, “Take five minutes and listen to this track.” I’m going to sit down and listen. If someone just posts it on my wall or something like that just to get a little bit of publicity, I’m not going to take the time to listen to that you know what I mean?
But other than that there are a lot of artists who are doing it properly. Harvey Stripes is doing his thing in Toronto. I got Carpe DM is doing his thing right now. The kid JD is dropping his mixtape in a little bit. Those are the guys I see in the lane of doing it right. Castro is doing it big. Those are just the names of the top. That’s obviously not everyone and don’t think if I didn’t mention you that I don’t feel you it’s just I’m on the spot right now so don’t get mad haha.
CCHH: I know Kenny B works with a lot of local cats, do you guys ever talk about up-and-comers in the city?
T-Dot: Me and Kenny don’t really talk about that stuff too much because Kenny is a busy dude I know he’s working with a couple local artists right now and I always try to throw in a local artist in my mix because obviously I can’t play everything but I’ll still try to sneak it in sometimes as long as it fits the format.
With Kenny, he works closely with a lot of local artists and I try to work closely with a lot of local artists and we’re actually working on putting together a local mixtape and if I like it I’ll endorse it. I love to help local artists and anyone in the city. I mean we could even do something with Capcityhiphop and T-Dot to endorse local talent.
CCHH: Any rappers in Ottawa you’ve worked with or want to work with that stand out? Obviously you’ve dropped some names already but is there anyone in particular?
T-Dot: I’ve put Cashtro in a few of my mixtapes, I’ve put Harvey Stripes on a few of my mixtapes, I’ve put Carpe DM as well, the kid JD is coming out with a mixtape that I’m going to be pushing. There’s a lot of guys from Toronto that send me their stuff and I push their mixtapes. The Ottawa scene, it’s just their grind level. A lot of them say they’re grinding but they don’t oversee a lot of their stuff. There’s a lot of stuff that’s being put out that shouldn’t be put out and they don’t have someone telling them to wait on this or let’s do this the right way. Because if you put out one song and think that’s it. You need a backwash, you need to flood the streets for three, four months. you can’t just be on it for one week and then fall off. For dudes in Ottawa, I’ll give it a listen and if I don’t feel it that doesn’t mean it sucks but if I don’t feel you’re not putting in 100% effort I’m not going to waste my time and I’m not going to waste your time.
CCHH: Did you like Belly’s last mixtape?
T-Dot: I did. Personally, I like the old Belly. I think he’s been hanging out with Drake a little too much in the Toronto scene. I liked him more when it was Capital Profits. The new stuff is alright, he’s got some bangers on there.
CCHH: I’m glad you mentioned him hanging around in Toronto, how do you feel about artists moving to bigger cities to build up their career?
T-Dot: I mean, I think you have to build it up here first and then go. A lot of people think it’s an escape route where you can just go to Toronto and just go. There’s a lot of rappers in Ottawa but there’s way more in Toronto, and if you’re not from there no one is going to endorse you need to build your local following first, then you can branch out. Like Harvey did, and even Harvey is taking it a bit rough out there, at the same time, he’s still huge. You just have to make a name for yourself here, sell out a couple shows and then you can do your thing over there and you’re good.
CCHH: Where do you see the Ottawa rap scene in five years?
T-Dot: Honestly, I hope some more aggression gets into hip-hop. I’m not down with all that lollipop dance music. A lot of artists are doing that and I guess if it’s going good for you, do it but I’m just into the 50 Cent, the Jeezy, the aggression in hip-hop that’s true. Don’t fake it, you need to say it from the heart and that will get you where you need to go.
CCHH: Personally, what were some of your favorite gigs playing in Ottawa?
T-Dot: My Favorite gigs? Opening for Pauly D was pretty good. Obsession on Saturdays is always fun. Era on Wednesdays is always poppin. They vibe to everything.
CCHH: Do you see yourself staying in Ottawa with Hot89.9 or do you have any kind of bigger goals?
T-Dot: Um…I don’t really know. To be honest, I love Hot, I am Hot, I’m gonna stay with Hot, I’m gonna be around.
CCHH: You’ve mentioned upcoming shows, what else is on the plate for DJ T-Dot?
T-Dot: Mixtapes. You can check out all the new mixtapes at mixcloud.com/djtdot. I update that all the time. You can check out my website djtdot.com, you can check my Facebook for anything new, hit me up on twitter @ilovedjtdot. You can catch me everywhere, Thursdays inside Tila’s, Saturdays inside Obsession and Carivibe is going to be even bigger this year. We have a new movement: Breakout Squad, a compilation of a bunch of Dj’s from the city and a couple from Toronto. So we’re going to be doing a lot of mixtapes and you’re going to be hearing a lot of noise about that in the summer.
CCHH: Any last words of advice for up-and-coming DJ’s and rappers in the city?
T-Dot: DJ’s, learn the craft. Don’t just go in thinking you’re going to get girls from being a DJ. That’s not how it goes and that’s not what you should get into it for. Learn the art form, listen to music and watch the videos of the icons. Know your history. Same with rappers, don’t think you can get into the rap game just because you can put words together. It’s way beyond that. Just do it right, if you mess up once that’s what you’re going to be known for after that.
Yo what’s going on it’s your boy DJ T-Dot. I wanna give a big shout out to CapCityHipHop, if you need anything in Ottawa about hip-hop check it out. The only one’s putting it down, there is no one out there like them. I’m telling you CapCity and CapCity only. What’s Good.
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