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Cover 04/03/2013

SA DJ Donnie Dee Already Crushed the South; Now He Goes for National Gold in LA

Photo: HANNAH SNYDER, License: N/A


Donnie Dee mixing it up during his Friday gig at the Revolution Room

Photo: COURTESY RED BULL, License: N/A


Dee during his 15-minute winning set at the Thre3style Southern region championships

Listen to Dee's winning Austin set here:


DJ Donnie Dee - USA - Austin Qualifier by Red Bull Thre3style on Mixcloud


“Do I feel like an underdog? Always,” Dee said. “And I thrive off of proving them wrong. Because it’s not just me — [SA] has super talented DJs. I’m representing all.”

The Austin judges (Chicken George, current Thre3style World Champ Four Color Zack, and Baby G) had solid reputations, but the Dallas judges — who will also judge the finals in L.A. — were legends: DJ Jazzy Jeff (of early Will Smith fame), A-Trak (the first DJ to win the “DJ Grand Slam” of DMC, ITF, and Vestax) and mashup pioneer Z-Trip (2009 America’s Top DJ by DJ Times). They’ll be the ones who will determine how Donnie Dee fares against the nation’s top Thre3stylers: DJ Scene (West Coast champ), DJ PHSH (East Coast), DJ Konflikt (Southeast), and Trentino (Midwest).

The sixth rival, Orlando’s Arock, is a wildcard finalist chosen by social media.

“They’re all great DJs, but I’m not nervous,” said Dee, who used to mix the old-school lunchtime show for two years at the defunct Power 106. “I’ve done many DMCs and I have no problem stirring up the crowd.”

Not only is Dee experienced in DMC-styled battles, but he was close to winning it, twice. In a particularly glorious year for SA DJs, he came in third at the 2005 U.S. DMC championship, while fellow San Antonian DJ Kico took first prize.

“Soon after that, things cooled off a little for the SA scene, and we’re trying to change that,” Dee said. “But it’s not just about ‘winning,’ you know? It’s about having fun. If I don’t win I’m not going to jump in the pool and kill myself. If you’re too competitive, you worry too much. If you do it for fun, it just shows what you can do, it’s natural. And that’s how I want to come across: as a natural-born DJ.”

DJing is all Dee does, and he doesn’t have a day off. “I’m always practicing,” he says. But the requests for his services are steadily increasing. For the first time in his career, he can feel the hype.

“I’m so accustomed to winning competitions and not making any money, always thinking in terms of ‘next year,’ ‘next year,’” he said. “And all of a sudden something happens and I have to be on it. If somebody asks me to do something in L.A., I gotta go do it because these opportunities just don’t happen.”

That’s exactly what Dee’s going to do after April 5’s Thre3style finals: when he comes back from L.A., he’ll host the regional DMC battle at Fitzgerald’s on April 13 (with two-time DMC U.S. Champion DJ Precision) and then, at the end of the month, he’ll return to L.A. with a surprise up his sleeve.

“It’s a different kind of battle, and nobody knows I’m in that one yet, not even the people throwing it,” Dee said. “All I can tell you now is that it’s going to shock the hell out of people.”

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