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It all started with a desire to create and be heard

DJ Semi (also known as the Mixtape Marvel) was born in his hometown of Waterbury, Connecticut during the time when Run-DMC was Raising Hell and the Ultramagnetic MC’s were Ego Trippin’. He was raised in a household filled with music – primarily Jimi Hendrix, Queen, The Beatles, and Tower of Power. When he wasn’t banging on his mom’s pots and pans, he was playing with his Fisher Price portable turntable. Music and art were his first loves. And one that would never fail him. He would record songs from local radio broadcasts and create his own mixtapes, which he would coerce his bus driver into playing for the rest of his classmates. This desire to be creative would never leave him throughout his entire life.

At the age of 12, MTV would play a major role in introducing Semi to hip-hop, and DJing in particular. That same year, MTV would broadcast live Spring Break parties featuring prominent DJs of the time. Two DJs in particular would capture Semi’s fascination – DJ Skribble and DJ Funkmaster Flex. Semi would obsess over how they’d command control of the entire party. This lead to him deciding that he needed to figure out to mix and scratch on his own. His 8th grade year, he would then forfeit all of his prized Nintendo cartridges at a local pawn shop in trade for a pair of turntables and a beat up old mixer. This would be the beginning of the story for Semi, making his dreams one step closer to reality.

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A Student of the Game

After getting his first pair of turntables in 2000, Semi began making mixtapes that he’d distribute to his friends in Watertown High School. These mixtapes would feature signature “Blends” and unique edits that would impress his audiences. Being too young to DJ in clubs, Semi took to the “mixtape” scene as well as Hot 93.7 in Connecticut as his primary resources to listen to and more importantly, learn from. He would practice and make mixes daily until 2003, when the release of DJ Green Lantern’s “Invasion” mix CDs featuring Eminem would change his entire outlook on creativity as a DJ. Semi looked up to the more creative DJs like Green Lantern and Dirty Harry, and decided that his mixtapes would have to be equally, if not more creative than theirs. This would lead to his first ever internationally distributed mixtape, 2004’s “Southside Story”, which was an all-remix project featuring Queens rap juggernaut Lloyd Banks of G-Unit. A senior in high school at the time, Semi saved up all of his money to press up over ten thousand copies of that mix CD, which he remembers asking family for help with assembling the cases with the discs and artwork. These new international listeners in addition to the golden age of internet music discovery would put Semi’s mixtape creations in front of the ears of listeners all around the world.

The Mixtape Marvel

After the success of his first major mixtape release as well as his high school senior graduation, Semi used all of his free time that Summer to work on more remix and creative mixtape projects. Semi would also use his talents as a graphic designer to give his mix CD artwork a unique and cohesive visual appeal. This is when he’d earn the moniker of “The Mixtape Marvel”, receiving much acclaim over the years for his conceptual mix CD releases. Highlight mixtapes such as Eminem – White America (2004), Ready to Die: The O.G. Edition (2005), and The Notorious B.I.G. Forever (2009) are still streamed and shared all around the world thanks to the internet and many passionate hip-hop fans. DJ Semi mixtapes have featured guest hosts in the form of many iconic names in hip-hop such as Rick Ross, 50 Cent, Jadakiss, Lil’ Wayne, Nas, and more. These mixtapes would soon lead Semi into opportunities DJing in clubs, at events, and eventually on FM radio.

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The Evolution of A DJ

Using the internet as his personal platform to be heard, Semi would now earn the attention of some major players in the hip-hop industry. In 2008 and 2009, he would DJ numerous private parties at the Connecticut mansion of 50 Cent, and begin his stint as a fill-in on WZMX (Hot 93.7) in Hartford. Semi would get his feet wet on FM radio on the infamous “On Air Idiots” Saturday night show on 93.7. He would slowly become a familiar name on the station, which was (and still is) #1 in it’s market for Urban Rhythmic contemporary radio. In the summer of 2009, he would join Connecticut rap-duo Mook N Fair on a national tour with Lil’ Wayne, where he would act as opening DJ for the show, and impromptu DJ for Wayne himself on occasion. This would lead to a collaborative mixtape project with Lil’ Wayne and T.I. titled Southern G’z, which is one of few mixtapes Lil’ Wayne has ever co-signed or officially hosted. In 2010, Semi would be introduced to a rapper from Norwalk, CT named Chris Webby, who he would then embark on many tours and creative collaborations with.

Bring On The Beats

2010 would begin a new era for DJ Semi, who was just starting to teach himself the art of beatmaking. Being a fan of sample-based, golden-era hip-hop, Semi wanted to use his DJ and remix abilities to help him evolve into an authentic, no frills beatmaker. He spent that year learning and fine tuning his craft, which would help him earn the respect from artists such as Chris Webby, who would enlist Semi on 3 standout tracks on his 2011 mixtape Webster’s Laboratory. This artist-producer relationship would earn Semi and Webby millions of streams collaboratively with songs such as 2012’s “Fragile Lives” and 2014’s “Superhuman” being acclaimed by fans, who would even go as far as tattooing lyrics from the songs on themselves. These cult classics would give Semi’s production catalog the weight it needed to be taken seriously in the industry. During this time, Semi would tour the country on over 10 tours and hundreds of dates alongside Webby as his tour DJ for over 5 years until 2015. This would also be the same year Semi would earn a permanent spot as a #DreamTeam DJ on WZMX Hot 93.7 where he would also be given his own Saturday night show, known to this day as Trill Radio.

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Hip-Hop Embodied

Today, DJ Semi still holds down numerous night club residencies, his Trill Radio Saturday show on Hot 93.7, and is still making the beats that he hopes “you can feel”. He’s also become an On-Air Personality, bringing his own brand of hip-hop knowledge to the airwaves on Sundays 12PM – 4PM on WZMX Hot 93.7. Although the mixtape era is history, and beatmaking has become somewhat oversaturated, Semi’s goal now is to self-fund and fully self-produce the music that he wants you to feel. Marvelous Music LLC is Semi’s self operated record label where he will release his own music on commercial platforms. DJ’s don’t just have to be the guy at the club or the guy on the radio. They can encompass all that is hip-hop. And that is Semi, to a tee. Semi hopes to release his music to lovers of physical media, too – as he is a lover and collector of vinyl, CDs, and movies. Look out for Semi at an event near you, or on your favorite hip-hop playlist. The Mixtape Marvel is here to stay.

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