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With 20 seconds left before halftime, Nate Lopes has a decision to make. Looking out over the John Kresse court, Lopes studies his options and boldly makes his call.
No, Lopes is not drawing up a pick and roll play that will open up the lane for an easy layup at the buzzer.
He is deciding what he needs to do in order to bring the crowd to its feet.
Better known as DJ NattyHeavy, Lopes has been a musical force during College of Charleston home basketball games for the past four years. From his DJ booth perched near the student section in TD Arena, DJ NattyHeavy provides a musical soundtrack for the ebb and flow of Cougar basketball games.
“Hiring DJ NattyHeavy was one of the best decisions I have ever made in regards to the atmosphere at men’s basketball games,” says Jessica Rodgers, director of marketing for CofC Athletics. “He has the unique ability to put together mixes with a variety of songs that all of our fans can enjoy – from young to old.”
As one of the most in-demand DJ/hosts in the Lowcountry, DJ NattyHeavy has made his name in the entertainment arena. You can catch him in action this weekend when the Cougars take on conference foe William & Mary at 4 p.m., Jan. 14, 2017, in TD Arena and again at 7 p.m. on Jan. 19, 2017, when the Cougars face UNC Wilmington.
The College Today recently caught up with the hip-hop maestro to find out how he became a DJ and how he approaches his craft.
I decided that I wanted to be a DJ when I became a DJ. I know that is kind of a weird answer. I fell into DJing at the age of 13 because of a friend. He needed help at a gig that he landed, so I went with him. I ended up taking over the gig and the love for the craft was born.
Q: How do you prepare for a game?
Mostly stretching, lay-up drills and reviewing video from the last game. Oh, as a DJ, right?
This year is a little different than most because I wanted to add more interactive musical elements such as more vocal samples, more call and response elements for the crowd and more songs for every timeout. You can fit a ton of music into 90 seconds, but one of the hardest parts is finding music that EVERYONE will react to positively. I have to research and prep a lot of music to find that balance. Sometimes, though, that is just trial and error.
Do you remember your first gig?
I do remember my first gig. It was at St. Augustine Middle School in Providence, Rhode Island. I was 13 years old. My friend Jeremy had a father who owned a speaker company called EAW speakers, so they had a lot of PA equipment at his house. Jeremy had done a dance with his dad’s gear at his own middle school and somehow landed a gig at St. Augustine. Jeremy was nervous because he didn’t know anything about hip hop music and he needed some for this particular school. I was his only friend really into that music at the time, so he asked me to grab my CDs and tag along. We spent a lot of time in the CD stores that day after school.
We loaded the gear in Jeremy’s family minivan and his mom drove us to the school. The “DJ” setup was two 5-disc Sony CD players and an 8-channel mixing console that you would commonly see in the PA for a band. I fell in love. Jeremy saw that I had control of the crowd with my song selections and I loved the feeling of owning a crowd. We soon started a DJ company at the age of 13 and it was a legit LLC. We did weddings, corporate events, school dances and proms. We even had a flash website for our DJ company in 1997 or 1998.
I don’t think there is a song I’m tired of hearing. I have a different respect for music. Music is a miracle. A popular song is even more so. A song is created out of thin air, turned into vibrations, sonically perfected and then somehow manages to please the majority of people on Earth. You can’t be tired of anything that has to fight that hard to be art. There is no bad music, there is only different taste.
What is the best thing about being DJ NattyHeavy?
The best thing about being DJ NattyHeavy? That’s a good question. I have a few perks. I don’t really have to pay for beverages anywhere I go, especially Bud Light. People think my opinion on social issues matters. I get to travel on someone else’s dime. I get interviewed by cool College Magazines. I’m on the radio. I get to work in a job in which the ultimate goal is to make people so happy that they have a physical reaction to it. I turned smiles into enough money to support my wife and baby. Every once in a while I meet someone who says, “Oh you are DJ NattyHeavy. I’ve heard about you and I listen all the time.” That is always super dope.