DJ D-Nice brings his online sensation Club Quarantine to Chastain

DJ D-Nice brings his Club Quarantine Live to Cadence Bank Amphitheatre at Chastain Park on Sept. 3. 
Courtesy of D-Nice
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DJ D-Nice brings his Club Quarantine Live to Cadence Bank Amphitheatre at Chastain Park on Sept. 3. Courtesy of D-Nice

Credit: Handout

Credit: Handout

The digital dance party with a big celebrity following goes live and in-person.

On March 19, 2020, DJ D-Nice hopped on Instagram Live with his iTunes library to take his mind off of his gigs getting canceled and being stuck alone at home in Los Angeles because of the coronavirus pandemic. What he thought was therapeutic brought people together from their homes and made him even more in-demand than he was before the world was sheltered in place.

D-Nice’s marathon virtual dance parties, Homeschool at Club Quarantine, has morphed into an outdoor tour, Club Quarantine Live. The wide-brim hat-wearing DJ born Derrick Jones has curated a ‘90s R&B-themed show for his Atlanta stop at Cadence Bank Amphitheatre at Chastain Park on Sept. 3, featuring tracks by Xscape, Jagged Edge, Tweet, Lil Mo, DJ Clark Kent and Jacquees.

Selling out CQ’s first dates at the Hollywood Bowl and Prospect Park Bandshell, D-Nice’s outdoor dance party is Live Nation Urban’s first tour since the beginning of the pandemic. “It’s not just about the music; it’s also about this community of people who were friends for over a year but never met each other in person,” D-Nice, a former member of veteran hip-hop group Boogie Down Productions, said. “Now it’s a chance for everyone to come together, show love, celebrate music, and life.”

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DJ D-Nice seen at The Breast Party Ever! presented by Planned Parenthood and Black Entertainment Televisions Networks (BET), at the Museum of Science and Industry on Thursday, Oct. 2, 2014 in Chicago. (Photo by Barry Brecheisen/Invision/AP)

Credit: Barry Brecheisen/Invision/AP

DJ D-Nice seen at The Breast Party Ever! presented by Planned Parenthood and Black Entertainment Televisions Networks (BET), at the Museum of Science and Industry on Thursday, Oct. 2, 2014 in Chicago. (Photo by Barry Brecheisen/Invision/AP)
Caption
DJ D-Nice seen at The Breast Party Ever! presented by Planned Parenthood and Black Entertainment Televisions Networks (BET), at the Museum of Science and Industry on Thursday, Oct. 2, 2014 in Chicago. (Photo by Barry Brecheisen/Invision/AP)

Credit: Barry Brecheisen/Invision/AP

Credit: Barry Brecheisen/Invision/AP

CQ was originally supposed to be a web series featuring D-Nice interviewing his artist peers, sharing a few stories about his music industry past, and playing some songs that he loved. His original concept flipped after film producer Will Packer told the soul man that he had the internet going nuts. D-Nice’s first five days spinning on Instagram Live from his living room went from 250 people to more than 150,000 viewers.

Heavy hitters like Will Smith, the Obamas, Oprah Winfrey, Missy Elliott, Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Lopez, Drake, Mariah Carey, Janet Jackson, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, Rihanna, Mark Zuckerberg and President Joe Biden all pulled up to the party online and posted in the chats. His account quickly netted more than 2 million followers.

Intentionally keeping his livestreams intimate, heartwarming and cross-generational, the hip-hop legend has produced each installment of CQ by propping his mobile device at the exact same angle in front of his console. He made some cold calls from his network to help get the word out about his virtual party.

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DJ D-Nice. Courtesy of D-Nice:

Credit: Handout

DJ D-Nice. 
Courtesy of D-Nice:
Caption
DJ D-Nice. Courtesy of D-Nice:

Credit: Handout

Credit: Handout

“It was about the conversation, the energy, feeling like we’re in the same room together, and the consistency of one person,” he said.

Bringing CQ to Atlanta is a special stop. The city reminds D-Nice, 51, of “how he found himself as both an artist and DJ.” His earliest DJ gigs took place around the mid-2000s at Sol-Fusion, a monthly series of music events organized by ONE Musicfest founder Jason “J.” Carter.

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FILE - This June 4, 2018 file photo shows DJ D-Nice, whose real name is Derrick Jones, at the 13th Annual Apollo Theater Spring Gala After Party in New York. DJ D-Nice started playing music live on Instagram amid countless closures due the worldwide pandemic. At first, the audience for his hours-long sets was no more than a few hundred, mainly friends. But as word spread, it grew to thousands and it drew celebrities like Janet Jackson, Oprah Winfrey, Michelle Obama and Drake. (Photo by Donald Traill/Invision/AP, File)

Credit: Donald Traill

FILE - This June 4, 2018 file photo shows DJ D-Nice, whose real name is Derrick Jones, at the 13th Annual Apollo Theater Spring Gala After Party in New York. DJ D-Nice started playing music live on Instagram amid countless closures due the worldwide pandemic. At first, the audience for his hours-long sets was no more than a few hundred, mainly friends. But as word spread, it grew to thousands and it drew celebrities like Janet Jackson, Oprah Winfrey, Michelle Obama and Drake. (Photo by Donald Traill/Invision/AP, File)
Caption
FILE - This June 4, 2018 file photo shows DJ D-Nice, whose real name is Derrick Jones, at the 13th Annual Apollo Theater Spring Gala After Party in New York. DJ D-Nice started playing music live on Instagram amid countless closures due the worldwide pandemic. At first, the audience for his hours-long sets was no more than a few hundred, mainly friends. But as word spread, it grew to thousands and it drew celebrities like Janet Jackson, Oprah Winfrey, Michelle Obama and Drake. (Photo by Donald Traill/Invision/AP, File)

Credit: Donald Traill

Credit: Donald Traill

Armed with an innate ability to enthusiastically transition and blend songs seamlessly across genres, D-Nice became the house DJ for the Mayor’s Ball during Mayor Kasim Reed’s terms. During the runoffs, he traveled across Georgia with Vice President Kamala Harris.

The Renaissance man raised between New York City boroughs Harlem and the Bronx always took notice of how transplants at his Atlanta performances expressed their appreciation for him showcasing his vast repertoire.

“When I played Sol-Fusion, I was just able to play everything for a party of Black people that wanted to hear Nirvana and Jay-Z,” D-Nice said. “It was about being unafraid to just be who you are and to play music the way you actually listen to it. Atlanta is that place where people come from all over the world, and they listen to music differently. People think it’s just trap music, but Atlanta is everything. I always wanted each one of my shows to bridge the gap between generations.”

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D-Nice, left, and Sevyn Streeter introduce a performance by Mereba at the BET Awards on Sunday, June 27, 2021, at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

Credit: Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP

D-Nice, left, and Sevyn Streeter introduce a performance by Mereba at the BET Awards on Sunday, June 27, 2021, at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)
Caption
D-Nice, left, and Sevyn Streeter introduce a performance by Mereba at the BET Awards on Sunday, June 27, 2021, at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

Credit: Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP

Credit: Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP

D-Nice’s viral crowd-pleasing led to him creating playlists for the Biden and Harris inauguration, the Oscars and Super Bowl LV’s pre-show. He’s earned an NAACP Image Award, a Webby, ASCAP’s Voice of the Culture Award and BET Awards’.

“This was a chance because everyone was at home watching, and you gotta give people a little bit of who they are,” said D-Nice, who is also the founder of a creative services agency, BrandNice. “Having so many people watching, it was important to show my love of music across the board. Playing a Migos record is just as important as playing Sammy Davis Jr.’s ‘Mr. Bojangles’ in my set. I feel like I did a good job of honoring all of our culture.”

The success of CQ encouraged D-Nice to head back into the studio after an extended hiatus from making his own music. Responsible for the 1989 socially conscious ensemble cut “Self-Destruction,” he recently produced and released the funky “No Plans for Love” featuring Ne-Yo and Kent Jones along with the electro-soulful “Rather Be” featuring Kiana Lede.

Also co-hosting a couch party for former First Lady Michelle Obama’s When We All Vote initiative, D-Nice is now a spokesperson for Band-Aid’s OURTONE campaign to promote bandages for melanated skin. A presenter at last year’s Emmys, he stars in and narrates a Ford commercial for the F-150 set to his own 1990 classic “Call Me D-Nice.”

He’s hoping his visibility can open the door for other Black and minority DJs that haven’t been afforded similar opportunities.

“I would look at non-African American DJs and see these big stages that they were playing on, wondering why weren’t we there,” the former web developer and online marketer said. “I wanted to do partnerships that were unlikely for a DJ. Here we are now, and I’m on those stages. The key is to never give up, box yourself in, or allow anyone else to do it.”

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DJ D-Nice. Courtesy of D-Nice:

Credit: Handout

DJ D-Nice. 
Courtesy of D-Nice:
Caption
DJ D-Nice. Courtesy of D-Nice:

Credit: Handout

Credit: Handout

D-Nice is publishing a book of portraits from his expansive archives in late 2022. It will highlight his globetrotting with his Leica camera shooting artists such as Mary J. Blige, Kendrick Lamar, Naomi Campbell and John Legend.

D-Nice credits his reinvention after 35 years in the entertainment business not to CQ becoming a viral sensation, but to “not being afraid to fail and listening to my intuition.”

“I took a chance, and it paid off,” D-Nice said. “It took a long time, and I didn’t know it was gonna pay off in this way where I would do something that would help so many people all over the world. I just knew I didn’t want to have a life of regret.”

“I’m excited people don’t look at me as old-school rapper D-Nice anymore,” he concludes. “It doesn’t matter how long you’re gone; it’s about how you make people feel right now. I just want to make music, continue to be the best at what I do, and provide a lot of joy to people.”


MUSIC PREVIEW

Club Quarantine Live with D-Nice

8 p.m. Sept. 3. $42-$67. Cadence Bank Amphitheatre at Chastain Park, 4469 Stella Drive, Atlanta. livenation.com.