DJ Skee on the Evolution of Entertainment and Revitalizing the Memorabilia Market
DJ Skee on the Evolution of Entertainment and Revitalizing the Memorabilia Market

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By Lisa Marie

March 18, 2024

Throughout music and entertainment, there are many who’ve managed to carve their own lane, but none who have been able to do it quite like Scott Keeney. More commonly known to the masses as DJ Skee, he’s dabbled in many different arenas over the course of his two decade career. Whether it be as a mixtape DJ working alongside The Game and Kendrick Lamar, orchestrating the marketing behind T-Mobile’s Sidekick throughout the mid-2000s, or paving the way at the forefront of culture, DJ Skee has made a career out of doing what he loves. We recently had the opportunity to catch up with the Hip-Hop legend, who reflected on his recent entry into the entertainment memorabilia space, what made artists like Lady Gaga and Travis Scott stand out to him, and why following one’s passions is the ultimate key to success. 


When would you say you first fell in love with music?

It's kind of within my blood. My mom was a singer. My dad was a piano player, so it's kind of engraved in me. I think I fell in love with it when I was in the womb. My parents used to play music for me. My dad would hold speakers up in my mom's belly. I think it was even before I was born. 


In the beginning of your career you were a mixtape DJ and producer, and ultimately ended up releasing more than 100 mixtapes. Then, artists would release several mixtapes per year, whereas now it can take several years for a single body of work to be put out. How would you say the landscape of releasing music has changed since the beginning of your time in music?

I mean, it's wildly different, right? Like the mixtape era is gone. Because of streaming services, everything has to be legally processed and cleared, which has enabled anybody to put up music. You know, the way that we were doing a mixtape like “Dre Jackin for Beats” style doesn't exist. Now you have to go through the paperwork and add the formalities of it, right? Mixtapes were the most pure and underground and authentic way for a lot of artists, especially ones that were trapped into bad record deals, that didn't want labels controlling it. It was the most pure form of expression at the time, and that's now gone away. A lot of that mixing unfortunately has kind of disappeared because of those licensing challenges. If you weren't there, it's tough for people to understand, right? If you look up my catalog, you're not going to find it on Spotify. You still have to go to a mixtape site, the gray areas of the internet, to even find where those things are. So things are kind of a relic of yesteryear now, which is crazy. But I think now too, the challenge is just the gamification of the algorithm and streaming, right? It's really changed the way that music is needed. And back in the day, you used to need a DJ to get exposure, The DJ was the curator and with streaming services, that's no longer the case. A lot of those platforms are important. That's why my career has evolved, right, from being on terrestrial radio to launching Dash. I realized those changes were happening. You used to have trust that the DJ was putting on an artist. That's how you listened to a mixtape. That's how Kendrick got started, right? Doing a mixtape with myself and a couple of others, we did a bunch right at the time, like Big Mike and Envy and others collaborating on those projects and putting out his first ones. That's why people would pay attention to him because they trusted the DJ to be the curator. And those days are kind of gone now. You're going to have to find it and go down the algorithms and get on the playlist instead of partnering with a DJ, which has some advantages and disadvantages. But it's definitely changed. 


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Out of all of the mixtapes that you were a part of, do you have any in particular that were your favorites?

The ones I really got known for were with The Game – ‘300 Bars’ and things. But personally, there's some great ones over the years. People always come back to me for Freddie Gibbs and putting out really his first mainstream project. And kind of at the time, he was left for dead after leaving Interscope. So we kind of started that career. Right. Like it was the first time the mainstream heard from him, although the industry had already kind of put him away. I always reference the JAY-Z ‘American Godfather’,  with all samples from ‘The Godfather’ soundtrack, which is one of my favorite movies. There's so many good ones over the years. It was crazy ones with Travis Barker to Chris Cornell, RIP, to of course Nipsey, RIP. Those were iconic. You still hear my drops on Nip’s Spotify which is so crazy. But, yeah, it was quite a run looking back on it. 


One of your biggest achievements throughout your decorated career has been the introduction of groundbreaking artists such as Kendrick Lamar, Lady Gaga, Travis Scott, and more on your radio and TV platforms. What’s something that made these world-changing artists stick out to you when you first heard their music? 

People always ask that, right? Obviously the music has to be good, but that's like the barometer. It's like you have to have the perfect storm of stuff, and sometimes it doesn't happen. There's always been artists that I've thought were going to blow up that haven't, right? So nobody's perfect in that. And that's where luck somewhat comes into a factor. But there's just this factor, this charisma that's impossible to define, that you just know when you first see them. You just know when you see it. I’ve been fortunate enough to see enough artists and really be able to recognize those things. I've been able to be there early on in identifying a lot of these trends before they really became mainstream, and I think it's just that intangible asset that's tough to say.


You hosted and produced five seasons of your self-titled program “Skee TV” on Fuse, with this program ultimately becoming an extremely popular epicenter for finding out what’s current in music and entertainment. What sparked the creation of this TV program? 

For me, it was great. I launched a YouTube channel right after YouTube first launched. I saw that short form content was going to be massive, and I thought, that me as a DJ interviewing artists, touring the world, and also just being into other things like sneakers and technology and things, I was like, hey, let's just put a camera on and put up like a short two minute episode every day. And that led to us launching Skee TV online, which led to a TV show. Mark Cuban cold emailed me and was like, “love your content”. I've done some stuff on Access and some guest hosting on his network. He's like, “have you ever thought of doing a show?”. And I was like, “yeah, sure. Let's do it”. It's so awesome that he gave me that platform and that opportunity. It just came from grinding and creating content for years and years and years, and then building and networking and then being able to be fortunate enough to be in that scenario where you get somebody like Mark to email you and believe in you and give you a shot. 


Looking back on all of the episodes of Skee TV that you created, do you have any in particular that you find yourself looking back on? 

I haven't watched any of them, to be honest, in a while. But there's all those moments, right? Having Kendrick kick off the first show right when he was on that trajectory was incredible. Being the first to ever put Post Malone on TV, Travis Scott on TV, Logic on TV. A lot of artists that were actually established, it was the first time they were on TV because there weren't any other platforms for them. So being the first place for a lot of those guys was just iconic. One week you look up and it's Future. Next week it's 2 Chainz. Like next week it's Snoop. Next week it's E-40. Next week it's Ice Cube. It was a moment, man. I don't think we appreciated it at the time, especially the level of talent. We were really fortunate enough, in retrospect, to have one of the craziest lineups ever on TV, especially at the time when music wasn't historically getting really a lot. We were really the only platform for it. 


Coupled with your DJ, producing, and trendsetting talents, is an incredible business acumen, something which has helped you become one of the most impactful music executives this century. How have you managed to become such an influential mind within the world of the music business?

I think it's always been following passion. I think I just had a native drive towards business. For me, I was always just entrepreneurial from a young age. So I think it was just something that was like inside me, right? I never worked a real job. I was selling baseball cards and then selling sneakers, flipping PS2s and Xboxs back in the day. It was just something that naturally came to me. Steve Brick took me under his wing, and kind of nurtured me and showed me the industry and introduced me to both the marketing corporate worlds. I remember flying up being 18 years old and him taking me up in a private jet to go meet the CEO of Nike and pitch them in a whole marketing campaign and seeing what that was like. So being able to get those experiences and learn from them, and then evolve was incredible. It was just something that I've always had a passion for. I love kind of playing four dimensional chess and figuring out how to get all these different unique pieces and things to come together. If you look at the crossroads of my career, it's been identifying trends early on, whether it's artists or brands. From my perspective, I think following these passions has always just been fun for me. I have this unique skill set that allows me to walk seamlessly between those corporate and music worlds without changing myself. I've just built a unique lane for myself. It just comes out of interest in things that I love. 

What’s a piece of advice you’d share with those hoping to be a part of the next generation of executives in the music industry? 

Follow your passions. Whenever I've chased money specifically, it hasn't panned out. When you follow things that you really love, that's where the best success has always come from and business has always kind of found its way into that. So try to create your own path and take your own lane. Don’t be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone and jump in and just go find ways to make things happen. 


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Outside of music, sports are one of your biggest passion areas, something which has ultimately led to the development of Skee Sports - your very own sports entertainment agency. How would you describe Skee Sports in your own words, and what types of initiatives are you currently working on with Skee Sports? 

Before I got into music, I thought I was going to be a pro athlete. And it's funny, as a kid, my favorite moments were not only watching Michael Jordan play, but watching his intro. I still get tingles thinking back to when they introduced Jordan. You hear the commentator at the Bulls Arena saying, from North Carolina, number 23. SKEE sports started off with me seeing that natural overlap between working on mixtapes and getting love from all these athletes. On the TV show, we started doing segments where we interviewed athletes about music. And then we started bringing in musicians to sports worlds. It led from that, from content to then actually doing the music at stadiums. Like, I grew up in Minnesota, so I'm still a diehard Viking fan. When they opened their brand new stadium, they called me out Sunday night, the opening game against the Packers to kick-off the season. They asked if I wanted to DJ and it was like “yeah, of course, I'll already be there”. From that, we built an award winning company that kind of sits at the intersection of sports, music, culture, lifestyle. We're never going to be X’s and O’s in sports news. My landscape is right at that intersection of it. We've done so many things in that world, and even got into the sports cards from that, too, which has been a fun kind of project. 


The Releast is "a next-generation authentication standard and marketplace for entertainment memorabilia." What inspired the creation of The Releast, and what do you hope to achieve in your latest endeavor? 

A combination of things: primarily the fact that most artists don't even realize how big of an opportunity is in front of them (without any additional work) and the fact that up to 90% of the memorabilia in the market is fake. We also want to preserve history and build legacy the same way baseball cards have done for players like Mickey Mantle or Honus Wagner across generations. Our goal is to create a significant, new revenue stream for talent, and give fans the closest and most meaningful way to show fandom.


If you had to explain what The Releast is to a kid, how would you do so? 

We sell memories. Our entire mission is to allow fans to connect with their idols in a more meaningful way than ever – owning an item they once used during a moment they will never forget.


If you could only own one piece of sports memorabilia and one piece of music memorabilia, what would they be? 

That's tough! For sports I would say the game winning ball used when the Vikings win a Super Bowl (someday!), and for music I think I own it already: Dr. Dre's platinum plaque for ‘The Chronic’, ‘Doggystyle’, “Nuthin’ but a “G” Thang”, “Who Am I? (What's My Name)”, and “Dre Day”.


The collectibles market has boomed in recent years, with a recent report from Market Decipher indicating that the market size is at an estimated $458 billion. How do you foresee The Realest impacting this market in the years to come? 

Estimates show it growing to over $1 trillion within the decade, and we want to become the most trusted authentication standard and brand in the space that fixes fraud with our best-in-industry security and authentication protocols, and create a turnkey system for fans.


What’s one album that you’d take wherever you go? 

JAY-Z’s ‘Blueprint’. I'd say that it has a perfect mix of a little of everything. That moment came out right when I was moving to New York, or I was originally going to move to New York and then ended up moving to LA, to work for Steve Ripkin. I left high school early to jump into the music industry. Up and down from “The Ruler’s Back” back on down. It's motivation music. That's probably one that's really stayed with me ever since. 


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What does the phrase “big ass kid” mean to you? 

I mean, that's kind of how I look at myself, for better or worse, right? I get to do what I love, and I'm following my passions and making a career of them. So while we've grown and become a lot bigger than we were, we still have the mind, freedom, and, hopefully, energy of a kid. 


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You can find DJ Skee on IG here: @djskee