The Atban Klann (A Tribe Beyond a Nation) were a hip hop group whose members were Will 1X (Will.I.Am), apl.de.ap, Mookie Mook, DJ Motiv8 and Dante Santiago. By 1993, with big hopes and aspirations, the group were signed to Easy-E’s Ruthless Record label.
Unfortunately shortly after the records release, Easy E passed away at an early age due to a publicly unknown infection of the A.I.D.S. virus. And the Atban Klann were then released from Ruthless Records.
Today, that group is famously known as the Black Eyes Peas with DJ Motiv8 as their official and original group DJ.
Known as ‘DJ Motiv8’, is there a story behind this name?
In 1984 my name was DJ Fresh. I was 16 at the time. Around 1988, while meditating the words,”A DJ motivates people to dance”came to my mind, so I simply went with Dj Motiv8.
You are the ‘original DJ for Black Eye Peas’. After working closely with Will.I.Am to produce the group Atban Klann (now know as Black Eyes Peas), what vision did you have for the group at the time?
The name Black Eyed Peas, was originally the production company of Will and myself. Will 1 X (Will.I Am) and I met thru a very influential friend OG Chino. The vision was to create a group that had battle raps, dancing, and a Dj. It was Me, Will, Mookie, and Apl was the dancer at the time. They were around 15 -16 years of age at the time. I was 24. We spent much time in the studio and recorded a lot of demos.
My vision for the music was to make a record that was jazz influenced, specifically the Brazilian jazz. I lived in a loft in downtown LA. It was the perfect underground environment. We wanted to make a record that you can hear over and over, from start to finish.
Featuring in the 2007 film, The Freedom Writers. A film that brought unity among different cultures and backgrounds, in the class room. Being a part of this production, what did it mean to you?
Freedom Writer’s was a great example of the true meaning of being of the Black Eyed Peas camp of friends. It’s not about your skin color, as much as what’s in your heart. Talent and skill to rap on a beat has no color lines. I work with Dj’s, singers, and Producers from Gdansk, Poland, Istanbul, Turkey, Sharm El Sheik,Italy. We call it being “Universal”.
Will.I.Am has said, you are the ‘Greatest DJ of the World’. What advice would you give any aspiring DJ’s?
The music game has changed a lot. There are new ways for Dj’s remixers and artist to get exposure. It’s a great time to just do yourself. Mix it up. Add musicianship to your electronic productions. Be entertaining as well as Dope.
What exactly inspires and motivates you?
What inspires and motivates me is, listening to early 90’s hip hop, 70’s soul, Disco Jazz, 80’s Popping/Locking era. I love chopping samples,and reconstructing old songs into new grooves. That’s how I get inspired to get motivated to get on my MPC Renaissance . That’s my drum machine I use to make beats now.
One of the many amazing things I have had the chance to experience is, getting married to my wife Sheila on stage of a Black Eyed Peas Show, as well as having my daughter (Rebecca, and my son Skai Walker), and “no I’m not a Star Wars fan. “What better name fits with Walker, than Skai?
Next year my daughter will be married. She is 28 years old and my son is 18, studying film in another state. If you are wondering how old I am? 27. “That’s when I stopped counting”.
What was so significant about this age?
I decided to stop counting because people always say I look 27. My age is 48.
Also when I was 27 I was hospitalized. I was born with 2 stomachs, but never knew I had 2 stomach until one day I started to have external bleeding. It took about a week for doctors to figure out the problem. Eventually they had to just cut me open to find, that I was bleeding from one of my stomachs. They cut it out, everything worked out and it was like a new start for me in life.
After having an insight into the ‘world of fame’, what did you learn from it?
Being famous is for the stage. Once I step of the stage I am just Monroe. People seem to think because Black Eyed Peas is rich and famous, people assume that I can do the same for them. I can not make a person famous. If you have talent I can enhance your skills, as I did for Will, Apl, Taboo and all the members of The Grass Roots Crew. As a mentor part of my job is to encourage, provide guidance, and get artist mentally ready for the next level.
My advice to artist that do make it to the levels of Black Eyed Peas. Stay humble and remember the special people that helped you when you had nothing. Remember the one guy that was there, teaching you when you did not have money to pay for their services, but they helped you still. Remember when you didn’t have fame and fortune. Remember when people gave you food when you didn’t have it…That is the best advice I can give.