DJ Envy is one of the most prolific radio personalities in the modern music era. As a member of Power 105.1’s The Breakfast Club, his distinctive voice resonates over the airways to millions of listeners every day. The Queens, New York native began his career as a mixtape DJ in the early 1990s. He was mentored by DJ Clue. Under the mentorship, DJ Envy managed to produce many mixtapes throughout the New York City metropolitan area. His fame grew instantly, immediately putting him in the upper echelon of DJs. He constantly broke new music from artist like Jay Z, 50 Cent, The L.O.X. and more. His success prompted DJ Clue to sign him to his new record label, Desert Storm. Shortly after the signing, DJ Envy release his first studio album called “The Desert Storm Mixtape: Blok Party, Vol. 1”. The album featured DMX, Jay Z, Busta Rhymes, Redman, Fabolous, 50 Cent, G-Unit and more. He would later go on to make 7 more studio albums.
As his music career continue to grow, so did his notoriety. He receive an opportunity to work on Hot 97’s “Takin’ It to the Streets” as a guest DJ. That success prompted the station to give him a position as a co-host with Miss Jones for the Hot 97’s morning show. He also produced several radio segments called “The People’s Mix”, “The People’s Choice Hit List” and “New at 2”. These segments highlighted his ability to create exceptional music sequences as well as break new records from your favorite recording artist. DJ Envy was now a mainstay in the radio sector.
In December 2010, DJ Envy took his talents to Power 105.1 when he and his co-hosts, Angela Yes and Charlamagne the God, created “The Breakfast Club”. The show has been a great success, surpassing a 10 year anniversary mark. In 2020, The Breakfast Club hosts were inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame. This was a great honor and a cement of DJ Envy’s radio legacy. As he mastered the music and radio industries, DJ Envy set his eyes and focus on dominating other industries, particularly real estate.
DJ Envy has been extremely successful in the real estate industry. He and his partners has managed to produce annual real estate investment seminars. These seminars give critical information on how to buy and sell property. Utilizing his Business Management degree he earned at Hampton University, he managed to become a serious pillar in the real estate industry.
He also has his business eye on the car and beverage industry with the launching of CARCHELLA and investing into Positivity Alkaline Water. DJ Envy is constantly showing that you can do whatever you want as long as you put your mind to it.
Industry Rules sat down with him to discuss his career, family and business ventures:
LL: What inspired you to become a DJ?
Envy: DJ Clue! For most people who didn’t know, DJ Clue was my neighbor when I was a kid. I didn’t really know him as DJ Clue. I knew him as Ernesto. We played basketball [at the park]. One day, I was waiting at the bust stop and I saw Ernesto driving a nice car. I ran up to his car and asked him what do you do [for a living]? He said come to my house after school [and I’ll show you]. He took me to his basement and I seen records, tape decks and pictures. He was like “I’m a DJ”. I said to him you do what you love [and make money at the same time]. He was like “yeah”. After seeing that, I was like that’s what I want to do. That started everything.
LL: You were highly known in the music industry and the culture for your mixtapes and exclusive features. What was the feeling you had when you finally got the opportunity to release your first commercial album, The Dessert Storm Mixtape: Blok Party, Vol. 1 back in 2003? (I’m taking you on a trip down memory lane)
Envy: It was amazing! It was the Blok Party. It was under DJ Clue’s label Desert Storm. It was an opportunity to share a different side of things. I wanted to do everything. I wanted to do albums. I wanted to do records. At that time, I was producing for everyone from Juvenile, Foxy Brown, Fabolous to DMX. It was a great way for me to be heard. It was [a great] experience. It was part of journey to where I’m at now.
LL: Can you take us through your journey in the music industry?
Envy: It’s been great! I don’t even consider it work. How can you consider something work when you have so much fun doing it. There’s nothing about the music industry that I don’t enjoy now. I’ll keep doing it until I don’t like it anymore.
LL: You’ve interviewed a lot of talents, artists, and noteworthy professionals. What was your most memorable interview and why?
Envy: The most memorable interview? There’s so many. I would have say DMX. He gave me a huge opportunity in this game. Rest in peace to DMX. President Barak Obama was a great one. Minister Farrakhan is great one as well. There’s so many. There so many different sides [to the interviews]. Where you can be in the music and then you’re on the political side. Sitting down with President Barak Obama…I got the opportunity to sit down and chop it up with him. Those have been the most memorable.
LL: Besides the music industry, you’re also prominent in the real estate industry. You done countless seminars dealing with real estate investments and purchasing. Why did you get involve in real estate?
Envy: I got involve into real estate as you know because there’s no retirement plan for artist or DJs. There’s no 401K. You have to create your own [retirement strategy]. So, if I unfortunately pass away or retire, there will be money left over for my family. So, I chose real estate. I have a bunch of properties and tenants so money comes in every month. My partner and I are heavily involved in the real estate industry.
We also teach our community how to be successful in real estate as well with various seminars. It’s not just for us to be successful, we also give back. It’s not too many people out there who are successful in the real estate industry out there teaching people the nuances on how to be successful. Whether it’s how to purchase your first home or investment home, we strive to give the information back to the people. It’s no longer retire when they want you to retire. It’s retire when you want to retire.
LL: Who has been your hardest critic?
Envy: My biggest critics comes in stages. Sometimes, it’s my parents. They will call me in the middle of a break (at The Breakfast Club) to tell me I said something wrong. Or, they don’t like the way I did something. They will tell me something like pull my pants up (lol) or something like that. That’s just my parents being parents. My kids are also my critics. They’ll pull me to the side and immediately tell me something like “Dad, that’s not it”. “The shirt is no good or the sneakers don’t match. Or, those jeans are too tight or too loose or whatever”. Or, my wife, depending on what it is…it’s just my family in general.
LL: What did you learn from them all?
Envy: They’re haters!!! (lol). No, seriously, they are always honest with me. They will criticize me for something I might have said on the radio or something else I’ve done. The criticism comes from a place of love. So, when they say something to me, I always listen. Sometimes when you have critics, you have to exam to determine where the energy is coming from. Do they hate you? Do they want your spot? Or, do they care? So, when it comes from my family I know that they care, so I listen.
LL: Can you list your top 5 (in no specific order) DJ slash producer of all time?
Envy: DJ Clue, DJ Premier, Just Blaze, DJ Scratch and Dr. Dre. All of these DJ inspired me when I was coming into the game.
LL: Last year, you and your co-host from the Breakfast Club were inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame. Can you take me through that process of being inducted?
Envy: We were on the radio for 10 years. Every year, they nominate certain people that they feel are worthy to be inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame. This was the first year we were nominated and we were accepted which was dope! The reason why it’s so cool because I still remember growing up listening to Ed Lover and Doctor Dre. I remember all the other DJs before us and to think that we’re the longest lasting urban radio show is crazy to me. It doesn’t seem like that long, but it’s been 10 years. We’ve all grown. We’ve all matured. We did our own things on the side, but we all come together and form like Voltron. We’ve managed to put out some great content. Getting into the Radio Hall of Fame is like legacy to me. My grandchildren or my great-great grandchildren will be able to walk into a building and be like that’s my grandfather or great-grandfather. He put this on the scoreboard for us. I originally wanted to play basketball, but I managed to take music this far to now being in the Hall is special; being a DJ, put me there.
It has taking me to a lot of different places. I’ve been to Japan, Greece, South Africa etc. It brought me here and I know if I wasn’t a DJ, I probably wouldn’t go visit half the places I’ve been.
LL: Can you tell me about CARCHELLA?
Envy: I wanted to create something that’s fun where everyone can enjoy. I’m into cars. I love my cars! Sometimes when I go to car shows with my family, they don’t really care. My kids don’t care. They look at one car and look at another. They’ve seen it all. They’re like whatever. My wife is same way too. So, I was like what can I create that everyone could have fun. We thought of CARCHELLA. This is where you mix the car show that has all the dope cars, celebrity cars and exotic cars from different eras like the “Paid in Full” era. Then, you mix that with the video games for kids and amusement rides. So, if you and your kids come, there’s something for the children as well as the adults. We also have something for the women like Shea Moistures, gift bags and massages. You also can get your nails and hair done. It’s so many things you can do at this event. This is our third year in doing this. We have events coming up in Atlanta (July 3rd) and Atlantic City (August 14). We get anywhere from 10,000 to 15,000 in attendance so. We’re excited.
LL: As a husband, father, public figure, and real estate investor, how do you manage the time between the four?
Envy: I make sure my family is with me. For instance, the car show that I’m doing in Atlanta. It’s not just me going to Atlanta. I’m taking the entire family with me. When I have different events in various places, I make sure I take the family. My daughter is 20 years old and my son is 17 so they get to experience this as well. I take my daughter with me so she can know what dudes to stay away from (smile). She grows up with me so [it creates a strong bond]. It’s like I’m her father, but I’m also her friend. And it’s alway learning experience from a father perspective. I didn’t hang out with my dad growing up until I got older. So, this is great that my family is with me during these times when I have events and things like that. For instance, when we go out, I’m always giving her tips on what to look out for when meeting certain guys. Or, make sure she valet her car at all times because not valeting the car and walking a certain distance can sometimes lead to trouble. These are the things I like to share with my children and I really love having them around me.
Once you get to a certain age and understanding in life there’s nothing out there in the streets [that’s worth more than family]. Those thing will only get you hurt. You really want to capture those monuments and memories with your family. Keeping your kids and family with you, [this is most important]. The fact that when I go to these clubs, I want to bring my wife. If I get drunk, I want to get drunk with my wife. Who’s going to have my back more than my wife. We alway have each other’s back. That’s important.
LL: What’s next for your career and how can people find you for business opportunities?
Envy: Right now, I have a water called Positivity water that’s distributed all through the south. It’s at airports as well as your mom and pops [stores]. We have the juice bar in Brooklyn. And, of course real estate, real estate and more real estate. I also have some things in the works that will be popping up on TV next year. We’re just working! We’re super duper excited and we’re not going to stop.
You can always reach out to me on Instagram for business opportunities.