DJ Deaf Puts his own Spin on Baton Rouge Night Life

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Los Angels native James Merritt II is making his mark on Louisiana’s
night life by providing the music for some of the most popular clubs
and award winning hip hop artists’ performances.

“It such an amazing feeling to be able to be on stage providing the
music for artist whose music I play on a regular basis” said Merritt
also known as DJ Deaf

Success and notoriety did not come easy for the L.A. native who grew
up in Dry Pong, a small town in northern Louisiana right outside of
Alexandria. Merritt said that in L.A. There was a lot of gang violence
and his parents wanted to get him out of that environment.

“It was my first time living in a predominantly white area and going
to a mostly white school, in the beginning the [white] kids there
didn’t know how to accept me”, said Merritt

Through the cultural differences Merritt was able to find one common
ground between himself and his new peers and that was music. Although
Merritt had always enjoyed listening to to a variety of music it was
during his childhood growing up in Dry Pong that he feels his
interest in music really grew and became more versatile.

“In California of course I was listening to popular rappers artist
like Kriss Kross and 2pac but it was in Louisiana where I was first
exposed to pop music and main stream groups that were popular at the
time like the Spice Girls”,said Merritt

Brenda Merritt, James’ mother, said We never limited our children to
one genre or decade of music we wanted our children to be lovers of
all kinds of music. She said she remembers when James was in school he
played the trumpet and they wanted music to be appreciated in all
aspects in their home.

“Although I enjoyed I music I never planned on having a career in this
industry, I originally wanted to be a computer programer” said Merritt

Merritt said he realized early on that he did have the the patience
or desire that it would take become a computer programer and began
exploring other career avenues. It was during what was supposed to be
a night of fun that Merritt would find his calling.

“I was having my 21st birthday with my twin sister I had a friend who
had a DJ equipment and he was going to DJ the party while guest hung
out and relaxed by the pool” said Kristen Morrison, Merritt’s Friend

Morrison said Something happened with their friend who was supposed to
DJ the party and he ended up leaving Morrison, her twin sister and
guest at a pool party with no DJ.

“ I had become known as the friend who good taste in music and
listened to a variety of genres and the equipment was there so I
thought I would step up and give it try.”said Merritt

Morrison said that once Merritt hit the stage the atmosphere of the
party had quickly changed. She realized that she would not have rely
on an mp3 player or already mixed CD’s have to supply the music for
the party.

“ The party was supposed to be a pool party, but no one was no longer
in the pool we were gathered around the DJ booth dancing, requesting
songs and free styling on the microphone”said Morrison

Merritt said it was after his impromptu DJing set at the party the
original owners of the equipment asked him if he would like to DJ more
often. Before James could begin his career as a DJ he need a name to
DJ under. Merritt said his name “DJ Deaf” was actually inspired by a
childhood friend who was born deaf but still involved in the arts and
although the two have lost touch he says he still has the utmost
respect for her because he feels she accomplished more in music and
dance education than those without a handicap could.

“ I told them yes, and I have been working since then and have just
been able to make connections through word of mouth and inviting
people to some see me spin” said Merritt

Word on DJ Deaf has spread fast since his first “gig” almost two years
ago. DJ deaf has been able to provide the music for some Baton Rouge
and New Orleans’s popular night clubs and bars like The Varsity, DJ’s
Club Elite, The Office, The House and Club Theory just a to name few.

“It is so fun seeing his ability to blend genres ,like country and rap
together ,and watch all different types of people come together enjoy
what he does” said Morrison

Merritt said He treats every show like it is his first and has one
responsibility. That responsibility is to try and understand what
type of music he should play for a room full of hundreds ,sometimes
thousands, of strangers he has never met to that will the best time.
Merritt said having this responsibility is one of the most
challenging,but also one of the most exciting aspects of being a DJ.

DJ Deaf has also become the go to do DJ for popular hip hop artist,
like the Ying Yang Twins,Gorilla Zoe, and Academy Award winning group
Three 6 mafia ,when they have performed in Louisiana.

“ When I was Djing at the Juvenile concert I struck up a conversation
with him and found out I would DJing for his performance and I
literally had 5 minutes to prepare for his show with him, but I made
it happen and that so far has been of the highlight of my career”said
Merritt

Brenda Merritt said she was skeptical of her son taking on being a DJ
as full time career , but her attitude towards his career path changed
once she was able to see him in action. Merritt said she knew her
son had so much talent inside him and is amazed to to see him put it
into action and see so many people enjoy it.

“This is not any easy road to travel but rapper Gorilla Zoe told me
that if you have to look past the nay sayers and people that will
tell you your music is whack a and continue towards your goal
anything is possible” said Merritt

Cameron James 2012 (c)

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