DJ Red Alert
DJ Red Alert is a member of the hip hop culture that is known for bringing the music to the people.
He began his career as part of the Afrika Bambaataa’s Zulu Nation and earned the reputation as a top notch DJ. At one point in the early 80’s, Red Alert’s equipment was stolen. Once he was able to get at new setup Bambaataa and other members of the Nation were moving to clubs in Manhattan. Red Alert continued to draw a following in Harlem.
Red Alert channeled his energies and musical talent into two daily shows on the nations #1 radio station, New York’s WQHT HOT 97.1 FM.
He has received numerous awards and accolades including a special award at the first annual Rap Hall of Fame Awards show. The prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award from IMPACT music trade publication for 1998 and the 1997 Mix Show DJ of the year award from GAVIN. In addition DJ Red Alert was named one of the 50 most influential people in music by Rolling Stone magazine. Red Alert is also featured in an exhibit at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio. The only DJ of this era so honored!
He has appeared in over 50 music videos.
Red was reared by his maternal grandparents, who were from Antiqua. Red’s love for those around-the-way basketball games led him to his high school team at DeWitt Clinton. No doubt this is where he was dubbed the nickname, “RED”; for his red hair and alert response on the court. Red later received a college basketball scholarship. During the last of his high school years, Red hung out at the Saturday night parties thrown by Kool Herc and Coke La Rock at clubs throughout the west Bronx. Red studied the style of music Kool Herc played and the way he blended the vinyl. On Fridays, Red found himself venturing downtown to check out star disco deejays, such as: Grandmaster Flash, Together Brothers, and Pete DJ Jones. It wasn’t long before he was jammin’ at parties on his own equipment. It was important to be up on what was happening on the New York scene, so Red was now attending legendary parties throughout the Bronx.
Red caught Grandmaster Flash at the Back Door and the Dixie Club, Kool DJ A.J. at the Morehouse Center and Afrika Bambaataa at JHS 123. By this time, Red had gathered enough record selection and record spinning insight to teach his cousin DJ Jazzy Jay the basics of the art. Jazzy Jay in turn introduced Red to Bambaataa. Bambaataa taught Red about rock, reggae and new wave music. Learning about the various styles of dance oriented music, Red soon became the deejay for Bambaaata and his Zulu Nation, joining the likes of Afrika Islam, the Soul Sonic Force, Grandmixer DST and the Rock Steady Crew. Through this association, Red began to spin records downtown at such clubs as Negril and Danceteria.
While deejaying at the Roxy, he met Barry Mayo, then program director of NY’s WRKS 98.7 KISS FM. A man of considerable taste, Mayo hired Red to inaugurate the “Dance Mix Party.” Red remained at 98.7 KISS FM for 11 years, becoming the top DJ at the station. During his tenure at KISS, Red became the first individual to popularize dancehall music at a major radio station! Before you knew it, Red met up with producer Vincent Davis, of the Vintertainment Record label, through DJ Chuck Chillout, to produce Red’s First record, “Hip Hop On Wax, Volume 2.” (Part 1 was made by DJ Chuck Chillout of the B-Boys and Part 3 was by DJ Born Supreme Allah).
Another record was “He’s My DJ (DJ Red Alert Goes Berserk)” which featured Sparky D on vocals and was released on NIA records produced by Spyder D.
He also became a member of the Boogie Down Productions, touring the country with KRS One.
Since then, Red has done super mixes for compilation albums on Next Plateau Records and Epic Records.
Now a seasoned veteran as radio jock, club jock and studio man, Kool DJ Red Alert has established his place as one of the world’s premier DJ’s. To top it off Red Alert owns a production and management company, Red Alert Productions (RAP). The company garnered a reputation for developing and promoting new talent. RED is responsible for launching the career of such widely acclaimed acts as the Jungle Brothers, Tribe Called Quest, Black Sheep and Queen Latifah to name a few.
In addition DJ Red Alert was the first to introduce numerous hit records including “Soul II Soul” by Jazzy B and “Hold On” by the group En Vogue!
Red says, “You have to learn how to break a new artist on record by working it in and out with familiar records. People are scared to fall. It’s OK to fall. You must learn how to fall and be strong so you can come back. A DJ is like the pied piper.”
Since his break on the radio, Red Alert has had the opportunity to expand hip hop’s audience as well as break the careers of Boogie Down Productions, Black Sheep, the Jungle Brothers, and A Tribe Called Quest. He has had cameos on countless albums, and has also released various compilation albums.
Lately he has undergone some professional changes after leaving his radio show. Well all wait to see what he has in store for us next.
Check Out Red Alert talk about his life
Additional info by Ed Roberts and Toolsof War