Not all that long ago, being a DJ was a world removed from the life that LaTosha Duffey was living. Fresh out of college, she was married, had a child and had never worked as a DJ before. But today Duffey has managed to do just that, and last year alone — after only three-and-a-half years as a full-time DJ — she performed at the NBA All-Star weekend, headlined Amber Rose's Slut Walk and toured as the official DJ for New Orleans rapper Curren$y. Not bad for a woman trying to make it in the male-dominated world of DJing — or anybody else, for that matter.
Growing up in a household with a military dad created a very strict environment for Duffey and her brothers. Since she was a talented basketball player, her father decided to move her family from Dallas to the city of Mansfield where she could attend Mansfield Summit High School and join the winning four-state championship girls’ basketball team. He wanted her to have the best opportunity possible to get a basketball scholarship. “I had to get good grades, could never get in trouble and had to be consistent with basketball. I lived in fear of failing,” Duffey says. Yet she says that attitude was crucial to helping her succeed down the road.
In college, where she got a four-year basketball scholarship to University of Texas at Arlington, Duffey wasn't a real partygoer until her junior year when she discovered the downtown Dallas club scene, which she was unfamiliar with. “I spent most of my time in Mansfield and Arlington, so I didn’t go to Dallas,” she says. After her first time attending a club run by PartyChasers, downtown became her favorite place to go. “I fell in with the whole atmosphere of the club. I was a social person, so while I was out I would always go up to people and introduce myself to them." Among the people she introduced herself to were Drake, French Montana and Nelly. Little did she know, this would unknowingly foreshadow her future as a DJ.
But it didn't happen right away. After graduating college at the age of 21, Duffey got married, moved to New York and had a baby boy. She moved back to Texas after only five months of living in New York. Soon after, she and her husband divorced, so she moved back in with her parents and her 1-year-old son. She started working for Enterprise Rent-A-Car and barely had any money in her account. Something had to change. That's when her mind turned back to music.
“I realized I was in love with the music and how everyone in the club’s energy was based off it,” Duffey remembers. She began brainstorming career options that could fulfill her desire to be involved with music on a more personal level. She thought back to studio sessions with friends like French Montana where she would give feedback on the music, sometimes suggesting what to use as the hook for a song. That’s when she hit on the idea of becoming a DJ.
Duffey moved to Dallas with her son and reached out to a well-known Dallas DJ, DJ ASAP, who she remembered from her nights out. He offered to show her the ropes and take her under his wing, so she bought equipment off Craigslist that night. Duffey started practicing four to five hours a night, after long days of working and being a full-time mom, and the next day she would wake up and do it all over again. During this time, she would send ASAP mixes she made so he could review them and offer advice.
Eight months later, she was offered the chance to DJ the first half of the night once a week at a nightclub. After her first year of DJing, she quit her job at Enterprise and decided to put all her efforts into becoming a full-time DJ. This worked out perfectly because she was presented with an even bigger opportunity to be the opener for ASAP four nights a week at different clubs. Suddenly she was performing for 300 people every night. ”The rise for me came quickly in DJ years,” Duffey says. “I believe I got this opportunity because I was really good at packing out the clubs. Since I was a popular girl, I could get tables booked and get pretty girls to come out. Even after I finished my set and DJ ASAP began his, I would stand on the DJ booth, dance and was ultimately a one-man show. This really helped me become more popular as a DJ, and my skills grew because I was in front of real life people.” She quickly became a household name in Dallas and started being recognized nationally. Her career as a DJ was officially established.
Although Duffey is deemed successful, she knows she must always be on point because she is a female DJ. “Looks don’t get you anywhere because people will call you out,” she says. She noticed in the industry people wait for females to fail just because of their gender. Even now, people are surprised when they first hear her spin and tell her how amazed they are that she is actually good. “I’m thinking like, 'You think I have just been doing this over the years off my tits and ass?' No!” she insists.
With Duffey constantly feeling the need to prove herself as a female DJ, it seemed befitting that she would get the chance to be the official DJ of Amber Rose’s 2015 Slut Walk, which catered to women who have been slut shamed by society. She and Rose met at one of her club appearances in Dallas where she gave an uplifting speech telling women to support each other instead of tear each other down. From there, they connected and became friends through their shared beliefs in empowering women and spreading positivity.
Soon after, more new offers rolled in for Duffey. She was contacted by underground Jet Life rapper Curren$y's manager, who she met at SXSW, to be his official DJ. Duffey accepted and toured alongside him on his recent Canal Street Confidential Tour.
The future continues to look bright for the female DJ, who inspires females of all ages. She is currently collaborating with her uncle, a professor at the University of Houston, to put out a book this month named Why We Didn’t Choose You Vol. 3. She is also working on a headphone line with Dallas Creative Director Don Smith and has a big surprise in store for her fans soon, which she says will be a game changer. If you want to know the definition of determination, just look up DJ Duffey.