Last year we interviewed DJ Lil Gab, where we learned she had the idea to create a modern Hip-Hop Karaoke event in Buffalo. Inspired by a show she went to in London, the rising artist brought it here and eventually teamed up with Hip-Hop socialites Billie Essco and O.J. Barker to run the event. Since Hip-Hop Karaoke’s inception in 2015, it has become a heralded event for both Hip-Hop artists, fans, supporters, and everyone in between to enjoy their favorite music together.
But their most recent event this past weekend upped the ante. Built on not just the hype of Buffalo-bred rapper, Conway The Machine’s attendance with his album God Don’t Make Mistakes AND mixtape Greetings Earthlings simultaneously #1 on the iTunes charts right now, but also with the excitement and fanfare of bringing in out-of-state guests like Florida-based Hip-Hop podcast The Danza Project and renowned DJ and producer Statik Selektah.
Nothing short of an iconic show, the event went on without a hitch. The room filled quickly and curated sounds from both DJ T and DJ Lil Gab led the night. Conway’s iconic roster of artists under his Drumworks label also flooded the stage. Jae Skeese, 7xve The Genius, and Shots all were in attendance. It was quite profound to be under the lights at HHK.
Before the show, we spoke with O.J. Barker and DJ T about the event and what their looking forward to as Buffalo continues to make a name for itself in the Hip-Hop community. Read below!
(Conversation slimmed down for easy reading)
Sneakvibing: “This is huge! You’re a part of Conway’s team. You were able to bring him to Buffalo…You’re able to have all these different crowds converge. How do you feel having the ability to do that?“
O.J.: “Honestly, you know it’s been a long time coming. I’ve been doing this for a real long time, you know what I mean… It’s really just a blessing to see it come to fruition and staying down. And keep doing it and keep doing and now we here in a building like this and big shout-out to my brother Conway. Number one album and number one mixtape at the same time. That’s some monumental shit right there. That’s some shit we ain’t never seen. Straight out of Buffalo… We’re on an upward trajectory with it. Big Shout-out to my little sis, DJ Lil Gabby, it’s her birthday celebration as well.”
SV: “This is super dope. I love that you have DJ Lil Gabby and DJ T because they’re DJs that are really coming up…they’re both doing their thing. How exciting is it to see their progression?“
O.J.: “It’s very, very exciting. Gabby originated Hip-Hop Karaoke…so, you know, it’s definitely lovely to see where it is now from where she started at with it. And T is the best. That’s my little brother. Watching him grow-I remember when he started and said he wanted to DJ. He’s only been Djing since about 2017, and now he’s Conway’s official DJ and official Hip-Hop Karaoke’s DJ.He’s done rocked stages – big, big stages in a small span of time. And he DJ’d the mixtape!..It’s lovely to see it all happen.”
SV: “Now Hip-Hop in Buffalo has been going off. Even Hip-Hop Karaoke is an extension of that. Where do you see the Hip-Hop community in five years?“
O.J.: “In five years, Buffalo gonna be the biggest. You know how Detroit had a mean run? Philly done had their run. Of course New York. The Westside. Atlanta, you know what I mean? Man, it’s Buffalo’s time now. There’s always been hidden gems. Big shout-out to the Griselda guys for opening that door…We got a lot of people coming up…and I’m telling you right now we’re taking off. I’m not gonna lie to you – Drumwork. Drumwork is out of here…Drumwork got some people that’s gonna take it all the way. The whole city do, but Drumwork is definitely up!”
SV: “Yes! What are you looking forward to tonight?“
O.J.: “Tonight!..I look forward to whoever has the best performances. Shout-out to the Danza Project. They donated a Playstation 5 to the best performer. They’re the guest judges for tonight. We go the legend DJ Statik Selektah coming in tonight…I’m looking forward to a good time, but I wanna see who really gonna take it all the way there and have the crowd going crazy.”
Sneakvibing: “How are you feeling about this event?“
DJ T: “I’m feeling good right now. It’s my sis’s birthday number one… We got the big homie, Conway The Machine – just dropped God Don’t Make Mistakes. I’m just happy to be here.”
SV: “Amazing. Now you have been doing a lot. You went on tour with Conway and Drumwork. How does it feel to know you’re doing something you love but doing it with amazing artists out of Buffalo, out of you’re hometown?”
DJ T: “It’s a blessing…”
SV: “For Hip-Hop Karaoke, you guys have set songs that you guys are gonna play and want people to choose. What is a song you’re looking forward to playing?”
DJ T: “Throat Baby Remix. All the women go crazy when JT’s verse comes on so I’m excited to hear that one.”
SV: “So you’re the DJ that likes the ladies’ going up, going crazy!”
DJ T: “Exactly. Yes. Girls run the world. Gotta make sure they’re having a good time.”
SV: “And speaking of that, DJ Lil Gab- it’s her birthday as well. How important is she to the community?”
DJ T: “She’s one of the first female DJs I met from Buffalo and we clicked right away. She’s a blessing to this community. We need her.”
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