When DJ Dap was awarded the Bob Johnson Trailblazer Award at this year’s third annual African-Americans in Media (AAIM) Awards show, many attendees felt acknowledgment for his work was long overdue.
Beginning in his hometown of Panama City, DJ Dap gained his first experience in radio at age 17, hosting a two-hour Sunday show for the Golf Coast Community College radio station. This newfound passion for radio grew once he attended Florida A&M University and landed an evening shift on WAMF 90.5. In the years beyond college, he has continued to catch the attention of different media organizations and has built relationships with many media and entertainment professionals because of his outgoing and expressive persona.
“It comes naturally to me, It’s just like a performance,” DJ Dap said. “When people perform, they get butterflies. I get butterflies, but I am going to feed off those butterflies. That nervousness is like fuel to me, I feed off of it. That was like a challenge to me, I like the nervousness. I know that’s a weird thing to say, but I feed off of it like it’s food.”
While several other media professionals were recognized for their contributions and impact on the community, many of them agreed that DJ Dap was perhaps the most deserving of recognition.
“When you hear a guy like DJ Dap say this is his first award, to men and women who are behind the mic day after day, it probably seems to many like their work is insignificant, but the work they are doing is very significant,” said Pastor Greg James, who received the Roosevelt Wilson Voice of Courage Award. “To hear him say that lets me know that what’s happening here with the AAIM Awards is needed, it’s necessary, and it must continue to embrace the voices that are giving out information, encouragement, and inspiration.”
Having worked in the media for over 30 years, DJ Dap has spent his career making a name for himself and making an impact in his community both on and off air. While he has worked with big names like LL Cool J, 8 Ball & MJG, Will Packer, and T-Pain, the work he finds the most meaningful is giving back to his community through his nonprofit, Dj Dap’s Lorene Mathew’s Foundation. Through his nonprofit, he works to clothe and feed people in need.
“What I had to realize is I should focus on those people who show me love and show that love back to the people that enjoy my work,” DJ Dap said. “When people say ‘Thank you’ to me or say that they love my show or ‘Thank you for coming into my community and clothing and feeding us,’ I would focus more on that rather than focus on your peers or an establishment recognizing you. Show love to the people who are showing you love. Never stop pushing because somebody will see you. The awards aren’t going to make you who you are, your hard work makes you who you are.”
Darius Baker, a host of the AAIM Awards, said that he is happy to be able to honor those making an impact on his community and that moving forward, the AAIM Awards will continue to acknowledge people like DJ Dap, who has continued to show leadership through community service.
“For DJ Dap to have been doing radio for over 30 years and this being his very first award, it feels good to be the first to recognize him, but we have to take care of our own, and we have to recognize them more,” Baker said. “That will only encourage them to do more and greater things for us. That’s what it’s all about.”
Dj Dap said that while some people may need awards and recognition to validate that the work they are doing is important, for him, the only reassurance he needs is from the people he helps and who love his work.
“I’ve been making my family proud, back in my hometown of Panama City, I’ve made them extremely proud of me,” Dj Dap said. “Here I am, this guy from this small town in Tallahassee doing big things in radio. I watched other people win awards, and I was OK with that because I’ve always been an underdog and I was never recognized, and that was fine for me because I was never recognized for anything anyway. So I’ve always just kept working hard at my craft and realizing that as long as people are happy with what I am doing for them, then I am completely happy with everything.”