In the classroom, he is known as Jason Cole, a broadcast journalism student from the Windy City of Chicago. But this 19-year-old sophomore is not your average Rattler. He is a diligent student by day and a table-turning, microphone-checking, crowd-pleasing disc jockey by night. Cole’s alter ego is DJ Skillz.
It began six years ago.
“In January 1998, I used my father’s equipment to deejay at my friend’s house party,” he explained.
After that, Skillz saved money to buy his own equipment. At first, he only had two portable compact disc players, a mixer, a tape deck and home theater speakers.
“I rocked house parties with that, but I had to get some real equipment,” Skillz said.
In 1999, he upgraded his equipment after his father gave him a $1,000 loan.
Skillz planned to study mechanical engineering at North Carolina A&T University, but decided the school did not fit him.
Instead, he chose to check out the tropical Florida weather and toured FAMU the summer after his high school graduation.
Eventually Skillz met DJ Kool Ant, a former 96.1 WHBX air personality -also from Chicago- at a party. Skillz got his business card and the two soon established a working relationship.
“I was basically his protÃ©gÃ©,” Skillz said. “He introduced me to his contacts and took me to his venues.”
Before meeting Kool Ant, Skillz was known as DJ Jason.
“When I got here, I thought I needed a new name to market myself better,” Skillz said.
Skillz and Kool Ant brainstormed for a new moniker.
“I told him I have skills, I do mic checks, and I play all types of music,” he said. “So, he was like, ‘Skills, DJ Skillz,’ and that’s been my name ever since.”
For Cole, being a disc jockey is no longer a hobby. It’s a profession.
“I am very organized and I arrive to my gigs on time,” he said.
Aside from being a DJ at parties and other venues, Skillz is an intern at Blazin’ 102.3 WWLD and a radio personality on 90.5 WANM, the Flava station. He advises aspiring DJs to study the area, the people and what kind of music they like.
“It’s not about you and what music you enjoy,” Skillz said. “It’s about the listeners in the audience and what they want to hear. It is my duty at any party to satisfy the crowd.”
Contact Diamond Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org