By// Starrene Rhett Rocque
DJ Paul has come a long way from Memphis but as the saying goes, he hasn’t forgotten his roots. Paul rose to fame with Three-6 Mafia, a group that went from local celebrities to winning an Oscar for scoring the theme song to 2005’s Hustle and Flow. Eventually, the group became reality TV stars by headlining their own show entitled, Adventures in Hollyhood—which aired on MTV—and then to compete and win on VH1’s Famous Food.
For DJ Paul, the latter victory wasn’t just about bragging rights it sparked the inspiration he needed to consider cooking professionally. Today, the restaurant gained from the Famous Food win is no longer in operation, but DJ Paul has moved to the next phase of his culinary career—peddling a barbecue rub and sauce inspired by his southern roots, blended with his love affair for Asian and Mexican food.
JETmag.com caught up with the entrepreneur to chat about his career as a burgeoning chef and how he balances his new business ventures with being an artist.
There’s a heavy emphasis on food in the South so as a southern man, what role did food and cooking play in your life?
My family—we didn’t have the every Sunday after church get together and cook and all that. I don’t really know why. I think my mother was just sick of everybody after church and didn’t want to look at us anymore. That’s kind of how she was. But it was a point in time where I’d go to my grandmama’s house and she would have a get-together going on and we would do that. But we didn’t do that that much. My momma would cook but I was never really in the kitchen with her while she was cooking
so I didn’t learn the family recipes or none of that stuff, but I did learn some stuff from her about cooking here and there. But I didn’t learn a whole lot. Most of the cooking I learned is from what I’m watching on TV right now.
You’ve come a long way from peddling mixtapes to selling barbecue sauce. That’s a good look for people to see the versatility in hip-hop.
I look at it like this. I always say that one thing about the DJ Paul barbecue line is—my cooking, my food products and all that—DJ Paul could sell you some food faster than I could sell you some music because everybody got to eat. Even if they don’t want to listen to no music, don’t listen to rap, 70-years-old, 80-years-old, White, Black, Asian, Jewish, whatever that don’t listen to rap, never buy a 3 6 Mafia or DJ Paul CD. When they smell my cooking, they’re gonna want to eat. I don’t care where they’re from.
You have the barbecue sauce and a rub, so tell us about both in terms of the taste and the role you played in the development?
I created everything myself. I didn’t do like some celebrities do where they get some company to come in, say we’re going to pay you to put your face on this and tweet about how much you liked it. I didn’t do that because one, I wouldn’t want to do that. I would do it if the check was big enough, but I wouldn’t really be able to support it if I wasn’t hands-on with it, especially if it’s a barbecue sauce. Now if it was something else, something like—“We’ve got an olive oil here and we want you to sell it,” okay, cool. Because, there’s only so many things you can do to olive oil. It’s kind of hard to f–k up olive oil. But barbecue sauce, you can f–k up easily, so I would want it to taste good. I didn’t even really make it to put it out for sale. I made it because, living most of my time on the west coast, I miss having the local flavors I grew up on.
I used to get a separate luggage bag when I go to Memphis. One [bag] will be clothes, the other will be just marinades, rubs and all that stuff from my favorite restaurants in Memphis. I got sick of doing that. I was ordering it online and the prices would be so marked up. So, I was like I can pretty much make this myself. Being from the South, I knew what was all involved into rubs and all that. So I was like, “I’m gonna try to make my own rub.” I like Mexican food. I like Asian food. So there’s a difference in my barbecue sauce. My barbecue sauce has Cuban and Mexican herbs and ingredients in it and it has soy sauce in it.
The average person—if I was endorsing their products, would probably look at me like, “This man is crazy! Putting all this stuff in this barbecue sauce!” Because a lot of people just like to put the basic ketchup and just be done with it. I didn’t want to do that. I made the barbecue sauce from scratch. I made the rub from scratch. And back to the story, being on the West Coast, I made it and I let my neighbors taste it. And they were like, “Man, this is good! You ought to sell this.” So I made the sauce, got it bottled out of my own pocket, put it out online, created a little website—djpaulbbq.com—and put it out online and just started selling it. I’ve just been selling it to 3 6 Mafia fans, twitter and DJ Paul fans.
And obviously you’ve been putting your cooking videos on YouTube. Will we see you with your own cooking show on national television anytime soon?
I’m working on that. I got some offers for some cooking stuff but it got to be right. I want And I want it to come out with the right person.
In general, what else are you working on?
I got my new album, Person of Interest, is in stores right now. If you get it at Best Buy it comes with a movie, a DVD, and it actually comes with two exclusive videos that I didn’t put on my website. I saved it just for the people who buy the CD. I have a different ribs recipe on there. I’m about to start working on this new mixtape. I’m going to do a dubstep mixtape because that’s one of my favorite forms of music out right now. I got this hot sauce I want to put out. I want to put out a hot sauce and a buffalo wings sauce. I’m just working.
Visit www.DJPaulBBQ.com for more information.