This article originally appeared on TeenWire.org
How does an Ivy League graduate who played professional basketball and had a successful career in pharmaceutical sales become a world-renowned D.J.? Ask the towering, six-feet-six, dreadlocked D.J. Rich Medina. Mr. Medina makes a living rocking clubs and music events in some of the world's liveliest cities.
TeenWire (TW): How did you maintain your love for hip-hop while going to an Ivy League school like Cornell?
Rich Medina (RM): At the end of the day, you are who you are. Some people are completely molded by their surroundings when they go to college. For me, it wasn't difficult, you know? I didn't force the trend because it (hip-hop) was a lifestyle to me.
TW: When did you know deejaying was officially your calling?
RM: Once I left Cornell, I worked for Proctor and Gamble and a pharmaceutical company; I played one season in the United States Basketball League (the New Jersey Jammers)... Each of those things had a bit of a terminal feeling to me, and I just got to this point where I needed to start thinking about what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I didn't want to work for a corporation. I had a hard time dealing with the bureaucracy — the "taking orders" theme.
TW: When did you start growing your dreads?
RM: I stopped combing my hair about three years into my corporate experience. I used to rock my hair natural. I saw the way it affected my bosses. Some were proud to have such a serious ethnic representation. At the same time, they tried to condemn it because I didn't fit the cookie-cutter, clean-cut mold a rep for that particular company was supposed to have. I just didn't buy it. All along, I'm in Philadelphia working my day job and on the side deejaying for frat parties at Temple and Penn and house parties with friends from New York who were going to school down there. I began building a name for myself as a party D.J just from that street buzz.
TW: I heard about your record collection.
RM: Yeah. I've got stooooopid records! I have something in the range of 33,000 to 37,000 albums. Music is so powerful. It's such a spiritual feeling. When they hear this type of sound, it makes them realize there are other things yet to be heard.
TW: What's the difference between you and, say, a Funkmaster Flex?
RM: Well, I don't follow a formula to make people dance. I don't listen to a program director to get my responses from the dance floor, you know what I'm sayin'? Regularly, I play music nobody has ever heard before. That's the thing that sets you apart.
TW: Where have you traveled?
RM: I've hit Asia, all over Europe, Canada... I'm going to Africa probably in the fall. Yeah, man, this is what I do. Some people go to an office every day; I go to clubs in different cities.
TW: One last thing, I want you to give advice to teens.
RM: Do something that you're good at that you like, and figure a way to make money out of it. That's the only advice I can give anybody.
D.J. Rich Medina went on to rock Atlanta's Funk Jazz venue, filled to capacity by a couple thousand hip-hop heads. Of course, Medina did it his way, naturally. Class dismissed.