At a recent emerging music talent showcase, I couldn’t help but marvel at the pure heat being served up by the event’s DJ who spins under the moniker Hu Dat, a name that plays off of “Who dat?” as blended with her real name, Kim Hu. Known for spinning music by emerging rap artists, the Los Angeles-born Hu Dat has rocked the stages as a headlining DJ for Doja Cat, Megan thee Stallion, Rico Nasty, DaBaby and Chief Keef to name a few.
At the same time, Hu Dat has translated her passion for new music discovery into a role as manager for several up-and-coming artists. In an effort to support emerging female artists, DJs and members of the LGBQT community, she also hosts a monthly showcase called “Bad Girls Club.”
We had a conversation with Hu Dat about how she came to be a DJ, the future of big labels and how she’s navigating through COVID-19‘s impact on nightlife and concerts.
Snobette: Thank you for taking with us, tell us about your background?Hu-Dat: “I was born in Los Angeles, my parents are Taiwanese. I went to Cornell and graduated in hospitality around 2014. I never thought I would work in music. I started spinning in college and would always get compliments from friends about my music selection. After working for a few month I saved up and made the big move to New York.
“When I got to New York I knew I wanted to learn more about the music industry, so I started interning with music promotion company MeanRed while also working at a restaurant.”
Snobette: Most of your sets are rap themed. How would you describe your relationship with hip hop?
Hu Dat: “I loved Snoop Dogg and Tupac growing up. Even though my parents are super conservative (both accountants), they allowed my sister to explore what we liked. As a result we are both creatives. My sister works in animation.
“What I love most about hip hop is really the art. The way genuine rappers talk about real life and tell their stories. To know that many rappers come from the hood and push with their talent to become prosperous is just inspiring.
“There’s so few women in the scene still and especially as an Asian female, I know I have to bring it. I strive to do whatever I can to bring more female power in the game. While hip hop has always been a favorite, I definitely went through musical phases as well. I used to really love dubstep in college, along with deep minimal house, Jersey club and dancehall. So, I usually read the crowd when I spin to get a feel for my set. I’ve had people ask me for my set list, but I really go by the vibe, every set is freestyle, I go with the flow.”
Snobette: What was your first gig when you moved to New York?
Hu Dat: “MeanRed would have me do opening sets to make same money. At the same time, the restaurant schedule allowed me enough time to do both. Over time, I started making the same amount of money as a DJ so I took the leap of faith to be a freelance music artist.”
Snobette: As someone who makes a living from nightlife, what adjustments have you had to make because of COVID-19’s impact on gatherings?
Hu Dat: “I’m still figuring out how things will progress because I also have my own events series called ‘Bad Girls Club’ that happens on a monthly basis. It’s a showcase for emerging female artists and DJs as well as members of the LGBTQ community. I had all my gigs cancelled and also manage artists Bebi Monsuta and Baby Sosa. The uncertainty is real.
Snobette: How did you get into managing artists?
Hu Dat: “It was natural. I’m so passionate about music. I never wanted to be just a DJ. I want to work on various aspects of the music industry and now with all the access we have, I think that you really can. As a DJ you’re also an A&R always looking for the next best artist. You have control over what’s hot. When I play something in the club, it’s also testing the waters. I like to be early on playing tracks before they get really popular.
“I love helping people with my resources and my connections. I really believe in my artists. For me it’s about focusing on the back end of their business so that they can focus on their artistry.”
Snobette: With platforms like Symphonic, United Masters, Amuse and Treble there’s a big push for artists to partner with distributors as a way to remain independent, Do you think labels will eventually disappear?
Hu Dat: “I’ve definitely observed the shift, artist do want to own their masters but if we survey the industry, the big superstars are still with labels, which still very much control a lot. And it’s still really hard for artists to reach to a certain level on their own.”
Snobette: How do you find new music?
Hu Dat: “It’s all over, labels pitch to me, artists pitch to me as well. I’m super picky. I use Soundcloud a lot. I discover a lot of talent there.”
Snobette: “You’ve opened for huge rappers, talents like Megan thee Stallion, DaBaby and Doja Cat. What’s that like?
Hu Dat: “I think people don’t expect me to be a DJ that opens for rappers. I’ve shown up to venues and a lot of times the response is like ‘What are you doing here?’ And I then have to then introduce myself as the DJ. I have to prove myself. When they hear me play then it’s like ‘Okay, she’s dope.’
Snobette: Who has been your favorite artist to open for?
Hu Dat: “One of them is Rico Nasty, she’s so dope. She has her own energy. She does not give a fuck, she just vibes with her fans on stage.”
Snobette: Do you have any pet peeves as a DJ?
Hu Dat: Mostly new DJs complaining of their set time. Otherwise I’m pretty supportive and open minded. I love when DJs play mainstream singles before I come on. For example, when they play “Big Drip” or Pop Smoke (RIP), then I know I can focus on my set staying more unique.
Snobette: What can we look forward to from Hu Dat this year?
Hu Dat: “Really focused on my artists dropping their debut EPs and my event series to come back. I’m also planning a mixtape with all my producer friends.”
Snobette: In terms of style what are some of your favorite labels?
Hu Dat: “I really love Y-3, the innovation and the quality. People also know me because of my Supreme hats. I know it’s super over hyped, but they make so many timeless pieces. I’ve been buying Supreme since I was in high school.
Snobette: What is your most prized Supreme possession?
Hu Dat: “I really love this long sleeve button-down Bruce Lee shirt from 2013. It took me a while to find it, though the coolest thing was also that I had the money to buy it which is an awesome feeling.”