Waajeed: Pride, Work Ethic, and Radical Thinking

With Role Models, we learn more about today’s most exciting acts — and the artists who inspired them. This time, Waajeed explains how Roy Davis Jr.’s workflow and passion have served as a consistent source of inspiration for him over the years.

7 min
Waajeed Beatport 3
Jan 11, 2023
·
By
Ralph Moore

Waajeed is never not moving forward. He also keeps excellent (techno) company. Continuing in that very same single-minded electronic spirit, Waajeed’s new album is called Memoirs of Hi-Tech Jazz, and it’s been guided by some key figures in his life, including his father.

I was a resentful teen like the rest of my friends!” he says. But it’s more nuanced than that. “My father’s work ethic was impeccable. He taught me to be passionate about the smallest task as practice for the big ones.”

The new Waajeed solo album follows his recent and well-received mix compilation for Carl Craig’s Detroit Love back in pre-pandemic 2019 and his last LP From The Dirt (the year before), which dropped via his glorious Dirt Tech Reck label.

And we really can’t forget that back in 2015, Waajeed founded the Underground Music Academy, which had immediate plans to extend and explore the legacy of Underground Resistance. At its core are key principles like artistic independence and collective art making, all things which also make Waajeed tick.

As his Detroit-based music academy continues to grow and nourish the young musical minds of the Motor City, we asked Wajeed to tell us about an artist who has helped feed his creative energy over the years. His answer: Roy Davis Jr.

Waajeed’s new album, Memoirs of Hi-Tech Jazz, is out now via Tresor Records. Buy it on Beatport.
Waajeed Beatport 1

Who has most inspired you on your journey to becoming a DJ/producer?

My Dad has been the most influential person in my journey.. He never made music, Never touched a record to play for a crowd. However, his drive to be the best version of himself in all he touched had a profound effect on me.

Musically, Chicago legend Roy Davis Jr. has been a consistent inspiration for me over the last decade. His work embodies elements that are very familiar, being that were both from the Midwest. There’s a particular syncopation that Detroit and Chicago producers carry. Maybe it’s a result of the great migration between 1910 and 1970. Blues and soul music are our DNA.

What made them someone you wanted to emulate?

Never emulate. What’s the point of that? I’d consider Roy and anyone I’d consider a mentor like a record. Sample the parts that correspond to what is needed at the moment and keep it moving. Emulation is the problem with our industry. Too many copycats! I owe it to myself to be me in every way. Otherwise, the culture doesn’t innovate.

Have you ever met them in person? Or worked with them?

Yes and yes. I met Roy somewhere between 2005 – 2006. I was touring the PPP album and my A&R Andrew Jervis asked me if I wanted to work with Roy on his project to be released on Ubiquity Records. I agreed and took a trip to Chicago where we worked in the studio together. That trip made me change my workflow! It was a very life-changing experience.

Waajeed Beatport 2

Have you ever met them in person? Or worked with them?

Yes and yes. I met Roy somewhere between 2005 – 2006. I was touring the PPP album and my A&R Andrew Jervis asked me if I wanted to work with Roy on his project to be released on Ubiquity Records. I agreed and took a trip to Chicago where we worked in the studio together. That trip made me change my workflow! It was a very life changing experience.

Did you have any other mentors along the way?

Amp Fiddler, for sure! I met Amp in High School when we first formed Slum Village. It was mind-blowing to see someone in the hood who dressed as weird as we did. He freed our minds to think differently and be our truest selves. Assertive and dignified. One of my heroes.

Why is representation so important in the music industry?

If you see, you can be!

Do you hope to one day serve as an example for the next generation?

I already do. I’m active in engaging with Detroit artists via Underground Music Academy. We address the conversations about erasure and systems that don’t speak to those on the margins. It’s my duty to give them the tools Roy, Amp, my Dad, and teachers gave me. Pride, work ethic, and radical thinking to name a few.

Lastly, tell us about the chart you created.

I’ve shared some tunes that have been essential listening during construction at Underground Music Academy. Enjoy!

Check out Waajeed’s chart on Beatport here.
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