Ralph Russell, an Atlanta native, is a rising senior music industry major at Florida A&M University who has been part of the Marching 100.
He is a Black music producer and has blossomed into one of the most profound disc jockeys atFAMU. Russell acquired an interest in becoming a DJ when he was in fifth grade when he noticed that the music at his favorite hangout spot, Cascade Skating Rink in Atlanta, had the power to invoke good deeds.
“The summer as I transitioned from fifth grade to sixth grade, I informed my parents that I had strong aspirations in becoming a DJ, so my father supported me by purchasing my first turntable. Ever since then I have been facilitating my own gigs, promoting my brand which is DJ 23, while trying to get recognized throughout the city of Atlanta,” Russell said.
DJing is a journey complete with struggles, triumphs and tons of hard work if you want success. Russell’s journey was not always a smooth transition coming up as a young independent DJ. In middle school he was not funded the amount he would like to DJ certain events; however, he never became discouraged, but focused on perfecting his craft.
At a young age, he knew how important building his brand would be. He made it a priority to develop the correct professional habits, including arriving at events on time, networking with the right people and using his time wisely.
While attending Westlake High School, Russell began to gain the respect he deserved. He was the DJ for the home basketball games as well as all of the extracurricular school events.
Epic, one of the most anticipated young artists in Atlanta, collaborated with Russell when they were classmates at Westlake.
“Ralph and I have grown closer throughout the years, as we both have thrown successful parties together. Not only has Ralph made the cover artwork for my album, “No Limits Deluxe,” but has also produced the songs “Moonwalking on Mars” and “N.Y.A.” from my latest album “No Limits Deluxe.” More songs with DJ 23 are on the way. Stay tuned,” Epic said.
Russell believes as he transitioned from Westlake to FAMU, he has acquired more versatility. With instrument experience for more than 12 years, the Marching 100 gave him the opportunity to broaden his horizons. He was able to work with multiple talented musicians. The current Marching 100 director of bands, Shelby Chipman told Russell that he should follow music and allow it to influence his way of life.
Russell has expanded his brand by starting his own promotion team named DJ 23 Movez, which has helped support his event planning from Atlanta to Tallahassee. Russell has performed at two events at Bajas in Tallahassee, including one of the most anticipated parties, 1000 Gallons, and was the opening DJ for Gunna, a successful rapper who has collaborated with artists like Gucci Mane, Offset, Playboi Carti, and Young Thug.
Russell’s father, Greg Russell, has seen his son’s progression and has been supporting him every step of the way.
“Ralph started this journey in fifth grade. As he progressed through middle school and at Westlake, I saw his passion for music and entertaining others expand and has never waiver. With him being in college, and learning about branding and the effects of social media, he just took off. We talk all the time about him taking his craft to the next level, looking down the road, becoming a music producer, songwriter and going on tour with major artists,” Greg said.
Russell currently has a full time DJ position at Sparkles Skating Rink in Smyrna, Georgia, and works at Cascade Skating Rink where he is the DJ on Saturdays for teen night as well as on Sundays for adult night.