Chappelle makes you laugh, DJ Trauma makes you move
DJ Trauma performs at the Palladium in L.A. Contributed by Mathieu Bitton
MUSIC | May 20, 2018
By Ronda Racha Penrice
Music didn't draw Tayari McIntosh, better known as DJ Trauma, to Atlanta. Back in 1991, this city was far from the hip-hop music capital it is today. Instead, college was the main draw for him.
"My grandmother used to run college tours," explains Trauma days before deejayingDave Chappelle's epic week, 12-show run at the Tabernacle. "So freshman year [in high school], I went on a college tour, and I came down here. Also my freshmen year, "School Daze," [Morehouse alum Spike Lee's classic film about college life filmed in Atlanta], came out." That combination sold him on Clark Atlanta University.
Back in New York, he had already learned to DJ and continued doing that for fun in college. “I started deejaying in the cafeteria,” he recalls. “Me and Mars used to deejay in the cafeteria. That’s kind of where people started to know us then we started doing parties.”
For someone coming from the hip-hop mecca, Atlanta was a desert. “Everyday life in Atlanta, in terms of entertainment, was kind of basic,” he explains. “They didn’t really have any clubs. It was not like it is today with clubs all over the place, with lounges and bars.”
That changed with the arrival of the 1996 Olympics, says Trauma. “With the Olympics coming, you started to get more of a city [vibe] instead of just a big town,” he explains.
Although he was working as a DJ, mainly off nights like Tuesdays and Wednesdays, he dabbled in other areas of the music industry. Going on the first Bad Boy tour in 1997 really opened his eyes to a bona fide future in music. “I was doing promotions, but I knew I wanted to be in the music industry,” he says.
In 1999, he toured with the female rapper Cha Cha, even doing dates in Europe. He also landed on what was then HOT 97.5, now HOT 107.9, and life was real good. “From 2005 to 2009, I was deejaying five, six nights a week at the clubs in Atlanta.”
A Christmas trip to Lagos, Nigeria in 2008 opened him up to spinning internationally as did touring with Ciara to places like Australia, Kazakhstan, China and Taiwan. “With technology where I didn’t have to carry crates [of records], I started deejaying in different places,” he explains.
He quickly discovered that Atlanta’s sound was also a global one, and he had contributed to that. His name DJ Trauma was even Atlanta-grown. “When I was in high school and college, I was going by the name DJ T-Squared, but I didn’t really love it,” he shares.
“We used to throw these parties at this club called Ethiopian Vibration, and it used to be jam-packed, like you couldn’t breathe because it was so hot and so popping. People used to get drunk and pass out and the Grady trauma truck would come, and I was sitting out front. I wanted my name to start with a T because my name is Tayari. So, when I saw the trauma truck, I was like, ‘Boom, that’s it right there!’”
It was in Atlanta where he linked up with Dave Chappelle. In June, 2013, he went back home to New York to celebrate his birthday and, while there, ran into a friend who worked with Chappelle. Still when that same friend called about two weeks later asking if he was available to do eight shows at the Tabernacle with Dave, it didn't click. Trauma thought he was referring to the rapper David Banner. It was only after going online that he realized it was the comedian Dave Chappelle.
“I came in and rocked, and we vibed. He was there for like five days so we ended up talking. I guess it was just good karma and timing because he was just starting to tour again, and he was vibing with me but, in each city, he was using different DJs,” Trauma recalls.
“So I just kept in touch and, one day, he had that bad show in Connecticut when they were booing him, and I happened to call right after that and Dave’s tour manager was just like ‘Yo! Can you come out the next day?’ We did a show in Pittsburgh, and I just came and just did my thing and just ripped like 15,000 people so the head of Live Nation Comedy was like ‘Damn, who the hell are you? You just created a vibe that made it so warm for him to come on stage.’ A few more stellar gigs prompted the comedian to say ‘Let’s just use you all the time.’”
Today Trauma spends most of his time in Los Angeles, but maintains a presence in Atlanta, where he can be heard on The Ryan Cameron Morning Show, Monday through Friday at 6 a.m. Los Angeles has also been good to him. Recently, he manned the music for Queen Bey and Jay-Z’s baby shower. He is also producing his own music.
Being back at Atlanta’s storied Tabernacle, where his journey with Chappelle started, never grows old. “Dave loves the Tabernacle and, honestly, for me, it has a dope vibe,” he says. “Everybody can see me. The energy is just very good. I feel like it’s partially Atlanta, which always has good energy, and then the room has good energy as well.”
In other words, he feels at home.
Dave Chappelle with DJ Trauma
Through June 19. $69.50-$89.50.
The Tabernacle, 152 Luckie St., Atlanta. Tabernacleatl.com.