Interview: 7 Things You Need To Know About One Of Our Favorite West Coast Power Players, DJ Carisma

DJ Carisma

If you’re a fan of YG, DJ Mustard, Ty Dolla $ign, Sage The Gemini, TeeFlii and Tyga, to name just a small handful of west coast stars, you’re going to want to thank DJ Carisma. The California native has had a hand in helping break these artists and many more coming from the left side of the country, and she’s done it all while balancing motherhood and marriage, two online radio shows, a prime-time slot on Power 106, managing her own studio and traveling on the road as the official tour DJ of Honey Cocaine and TeeFlii. I can’t even talk on the phone and answer an email at the same time, so to say I admire Carisma is an understatement…and I’m not alone in my sentiments. As I sat on Ty Dolla $ign‘s bus a couple of weeks back at the Under the Influence tour stop in PA, I watched as Ty and his entire team jumped up and yelled when they received an email that Carisma had been featured on XXL‘s site. When Chris Brown got out of jail and was thrown a private gathering to welcome him back, Carisma was one of the invited guests. When Nipsey Hussle was asked who he admired in radio, guess who he named? Yep, Carisma!

As she made her rounds to discuss her new single “Anyway” featuring Sage The Gemini, Tory Lanez, Eric Bellinger and Mishon, I had to jump on the phone with the Young California co-founder so that I could share a few gems with our LIT readers. Below, find out exactly how she got her start in the game (so that you can take a few pointers!), who her top 5 artists coming out of the west are and more.

1. She will be releasing her debut album this year.

My debut album, DJ Carisma Presents…, is dropping September 29th. It’s going to feature TeeFlii, Ty Dolla $ign, Adrian Marcel, French Montana, Wiz Khalifa, Nipsey Hussle and a lot of fly newcomers I’m excited to introduce to everybody.

2. She went to school in Minnesota, and it taught her what she DIDN’T want.

I was into music very young. My mom was an entertainer – she was a hula dancer. I used to go out with her and hook up her sound system and rock her mic when I was young, like 8-years-old. In high school, I was just a hip-hop head. I loved hip-hop. I didn’t know I could make a career out of it, but as soon as I graduated at 17, I went to Minnesota. I went there to attend college for radio broadcasting, and that’s when I realized that I didn’t want to be a radio personality – I wanted to be a DJ. When I came back home to California, I went full-force with DJing. I’d go off at house parties, DJ’ing on washers and dryers. Eventually my boy Junior gave me a shot and I got hired at Movin’ 93.9, which was a funk station in L.A., and I worked my way up from there.

3. Slow and steady wins the race. It took Carisma years to get to where she is!

I was applying at Power 106 for like a good 5 years and kept getting rejection letters. I finally got hired at Movin’, and they were connected to Power 106. I just put in work and killed it on the street team and caught the eye of the Power 106 street team, and eventually, Junior took me over to Power 106. That’s how I got my foot in the door – I just put in work on the street team. When I broke the New Boyz‘ “You’re A Jerk,” the Power 106 program director E-Man took notice. That’s when he really gave me a shot to be a mixer on-air, and I’ve been a mixer ever since. But like I said, it took years from working house parties, to the street team to finally getting a slot on the airwaves.

4. A Young New York x Young California mixtape is on the way, presented by Cali’s DJ Carisma, DJ Amen, Abby De La Rosa, Dre Sinatra and Yesi Ortiz…and ME, Drewski, DJ Enuff, Cipha Sounds and Juanyto from our side.

That was my idea, and it’s really about unity. Our older peers didn’t have that much communication with each other. I wanted to bridge that gap, especially after the whole Pac and Biggie thing. Ever since that infamous beef, there’s been this real division between the west and east. That’s why we started Young California! Then I started meeting all of you guys at Hot 97. You guys have been coming out here a lot and showing so much love, so we had to do the mixtape. It’s going to feature the 20 hottest L.A. artists and the 20 hottest NY artists, and I have a feeling it’s gonna be big. Look out for that this month.

5. She has her eyes on 5 emerging artists from the west in particular.

6. Her inspiration comes from all over.

Erykah Badu – she’s one of my all time favorites. I look up to her so much. She’s so multi-talented from DJing to singing – she’s amazing. And of course all the DJ’s that I grew up listening to – Funk Flex, DJ Enuff, DJ Drama, Khaled…all of the big dogs doing it. I’m just trying to get in their world. And of course, Tupac and Aaliyah.

7. Balancing a successful career with motherhood and marriage isn’t impossible.

I have a 3-year-old daughter, and I make sure I spend plenty of time with her. She keeps me balanced and humble. I’m blessed to have her and to have my husband who takes care of her. The balancing act is part of the gig, you know? It is what it is and I’m doing it. It’s been working out really good so far.

Cop “Anyway” on iTunes || Amazon || Google Play

Keep up with Carisma: Twitter || Instagram || Official Website


Marisa Mendez

Marisa is a media personality, while also working on the digital side of things for some of hip-hop's biggest names. She has done work with French Montana, Swizz Beatz, Nicki Minaj, Pusha T and many more.

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