Media personality Angela Yee and DJ D-Nice joined ESSENCE Deputy Editor Cori Murray for the Wealth & Power experience at the 2021 ESSENCE Festival of Culture presented by Coca-Cola to discuss how they’ve each managed to continue working, thriving, and pursuing their passions through the unprecedented year that was 2020.
While most know Angela Yee for her delivery of breaking news and irreverent humor on the early-morning airwaves, the media maven is not only a radio host, but an entrepreneur with a touring podcast, a juice bar, a coffee shop, and a coffee company, among other ventures.
“I’m a big fan of multiple streams of income,” Yee said. “Especially when the pandemic hit, we all realized that it’s so important to have different things happening. Some people were just invested in real estate, then people weren’t paying their rent. So, that takes a hit. So, it makes you realize, ‘Okay, I have to have multiple things happening so I can always be comfortable.’”
For D-Nice, who has experienced heightened notoriety during the course of the pandemic with his “Club Quarantine” home DJ-set series, having a diverse set of skills and multiple ventures has afforded him the opportunity to constantly chase one of his creative passions, regardless if one lane may happen to fall through.
“I learned early on, after my rapping days when people weren’t buying the records and the record company shelved me, that I didn’t want to be that type of artist ever again; where my income was based on what someone else thought of me,” he told Murray. D-Nice used his downtime to learn programming and photography, eventually becoming a web developer building websites for clients like Alicia Keys and AT&T, and photographing album covers for artists like Carl Thomas and campaigns for clients like Hennessy and Reebok.
But a chance encounter at a party where Q-Tip was DJing reignited D-Nice’s love of music. “I heard Q-Tip spinning, went back home, called up one of my buddies, Chris Lighty, and told him ‘bro, I think I want to DJ.’’ He left his thriving web business from that moment. “I found this lane where I could just play what I love. It wasn’t considered open-format at that time, but I just knew I wanted to be able to play everything.”
Both concur that with diversity in their skillsets, they each have increased opportunities to pursue the things that truly excite them, rather than blindly following the money wherever it leads. For Yee, no check comes before her own personal integrity.
“For me as a radio personality, it’s important for people to feel like they can trust me. So certain things I won’t do,” she told Murray, recalling a time she was offered a massive payday to endorse a fur company, though she doesn’t wear fur. “I had to turn that down. I don’t do anything with cigarette companies, or vaping, things like that. I don’t promote things on the radio that I wouldn’t recommend somebody to do.”
‘Not every check is a good check,” D-Nice said. “Do I want the nice car, do I want a nice home, do I like to fly in first class? I love all of those things. But they don’t define who I am. I do things that make me feel good, not just based on money,” he explained, detailing how he had turned down millions in offers for Club Quarantine early in the pandemic to instead keep delivering authentic joy to people in isolation.
“None of the money would have been worth the feeling that I have now.”
Check out the video above to see the conversation in full and for more of everything you missed during the 2021 ESSENCE Festival of Culture Wealth & Power experience, click HERE.