Lessons From A Legend: DJ Eddie F On Appreciating the Difference In Then & Now


Edward “DJ Eddie F” Ferrell has left an impact on all facets of the music industry. From his start with Heavy D & the Boyz, to still shaping the careers of some of the biggest names, simply put, he’s an icon. DJ Eddie F is a producer, arranger, entrepreneur, songwriter, and executive, as well as the face of hard work and success. AllHipHop.com took a moment to learn a few key lessons from him:

Lesson #1: Learn From Other Legends

When I first got in the game, I came in as a DJ. I wasn’t really looking to be a producer. I didn’t even know what a producer was. Two of the first people that I met were Teddy Riley and Marley Marl. Both of them I met through Andre Harrell, so between the three of them, a huge impact was made. From the cultural sensibility of Andre, and the R&B and Hip-Hop sensibility of Teddy Riley, and the Hip-Hop sensibility of Marley Marl, I was learning so much. I was getting training from the top people in the field. That was instrumental to my career. The value can’t even be put into words.

Lesson #2: Use Music To Educate People

Both of my parents were teachers; my father is also a guidance counselor. Education was big with my family. I had a partial scholarship to college. I didn’t complete school, only because we got a record deal. But education was important, and still is. I’ve always been into music, but doing well in school was a passion as well. I value all of the other things that music gives you the leeway to push, be it community involvement, politics, or learning. I look for an intellectual discussion that’s going to move us forward in everything. I think one of the reasons I became a manager, A &R, and executive is because I saw a way to educate others. I also became a coach and a teacher in a sense. I did it so much that my company developed from it. I believe you can use music to get people to focus on, and further, the conversation on important issues.

Lesson #3: Never Lose The Memories

The way that our group was organized, a lot of people don’t know that me and Heavy D were actually partners; we were 50/50 partners. We talked a lot in the beginning because we made a lot of the business decisions together. The one thing that people didn’t know about Heavy was that he would never compromise his viewpoint or integrity. He would never do anything just for the money. If it wasn’t true to who he was, he wanted no parts of it. He would never do anything he didn’t believe in. Even if it hurt his finances, he focused on his legacy. Heavy was sometimes seen as difficult because he would do the right thing. He simply wouldn’t take the short cut.

Lesson #4: Appreciate The Difference In Then And Now

I started as a DJ, and I still DJ. So I love all music, as long as it’s good music. I’m not one of those guys who walks around saying the music now is not how it use to be. I feel there are great songs out now, as there were back then. With every generation, the music changes; that’s just how it goes. Someone will always see the changes as not being real music. At the end of the day, it’s about how the music makes you feel.

Great artists move you today just like artists did 10 years ago. As technology changes, problems will continue to arise. There used to be a filter. At one time, it cost a certain amount to even record. There was a financial barrier back then. You had to convince someone you were good enough for them to spend money on you so you could get in the studio. Now anyone can do it, so the industry is over-saturated. It’s quantity over quality. It’s not a matter of less music with substance, but a lot of junk blocking the good. More clutter, if you will. But still there are executives who find the stars. It’s a testament to the power of excellent music.

Lesson #5: Grow With The Art

Music is a lot easier to make now, but the work ethic shouldn’t suffer. Put the time into your craft – that’s what I tell new artists. But as the art form improves, the music will get better. The artists have to keep up with all of that, though. Growth should be seen on all ends.

Lesson #6: Define Success Yourself

Success is feeling good about what you’re doing. As long as you’re comfortable by your standards, that’s success. One person can make $10,000 and be happy; another can make $500,000 and be miserable. Back then, we counted every accomplishment on our journey, and we had fun while doing it. As you get older, the simple things matter more. I can look back and remember when Puffy lived with me; now look at him. It means more when you can see the progress and appreciate it. The struggle should make you value any amount of success you obtain.

Follow DJ Eddie F on Twitter (@djeddief).

Tawni Fears is a freelance writer and contributor to AllHipHop.com. Follow her on Twitter (@brwnsugaT).