Whether DJ Envy is co-hosting the hottest morning show in the country, spinning records at some exclusive party, flipping properties, or showcasing and collecting classic cars, DJ Envy has truly surpassed the title of radio pro.
I have million-and-one jobs, but I will tell you the truth, when the money comes between the first and the fifth of the month and I get those envelopes, that feels so much better because of the work that we put in to do it.DJ Envy
His business acumen transcends the witty, educational, and often humorous yet sometimes confrontational banter he exchanges with Charlamagne, Angela Yee, and their celebrity guests each morning on Power 105.1 FM’s The Breakfast Club.
Envy has been a master at moving the crowd for years as a sound selector but in 2019 he became more focused and active in moving masses of the disenfranchised to understand the power of ownership, business, branding, and community through his entrepreneurial ventures. Envy took the time to talk to Radio Facts about the keys to building his real estate empire, business ventures, future plans, and even some of the recent drama surrounding The Breakfast Club.
So, you had a really good year this year.
DJ ENVY: Yeah, we have been working. Which is a good thing.
How did the car show go?
The car show was great. We had 3,000 people in there; we had a lot of cars. It was really, really good.
I would think that that would be very stressful because you’re thinking you might nick somebody’s car or scratch it.
Believe me. We had a lot of security to watch everybody’s car. People just wanted to have a good time they just wanted to see the cars, so I am not concerned with that. It was a family day. Other than kids leaning on cars…it was pretty easy.
Were celebrities actually there while people were walking around?
Yeah, a couple of people…came, Fat Joe came and a few others came as well.
Okay, so we briefly talked at your real estate event in LA – by the way, it’s one of the best I’ve ever been to.
I appreciate that.
And I wanted to know what was your initiative? What actually brought you to share your secret of success? Because a lot of us tend not to do that.
Well, me and my partner Cesar, we just really wanted to teach people how to get into real estate. There [are] three of us, one is Fernando, one is Cesar and myself, and every time we go out to look for homes…we never see anybody that looks like us.
And the crazy thing about it is, it’s in our community so we really, really wanted to teach our own how to invest and how to get credit for their homes and try to just, instead of to rent all their life, to try to own what they have been renting. And we realized they just don’t know how, so we said we can show them the way.
Do you think that the responsibility is ours for not being at those community meetings or on the courthouse steps for foreclosures or do you think that it’s just a lack of information or cumulative… what’s your response as to why we’re not present?
I think one [reason] is knowledge. I always say my parents have always owned the same house that they owned for 40 years of their lives and I was talking to my dad yesterday and I said, “Dad, what is your interest rate for your house?” My dad told me his interest rate is 8.5%.
He was paying 45% for 30 years, he just had no knowledge, he did not know. He fought in the Vietnam War and after the Vietnam War he came home and became a police officer and from there he wanted to buy a house but he did not know-how. His mother did not own a house; she lived in an apartment all her life [so he] had to figure that out on his own.
I think in the 70s and 80s the interest rate was classically pretty high and that was almost like you couldn’t avoid it.
And he never refinanced it. He did not know anything about refinancing.
So how did you learn everything? Was it all through trial and error?
It was through trial and error and also…meet[ing] people that are trying to do it. I was doing it, but I did not really know what I was doing. I was kind of figuring it out on my own and then when I met Cesar and Fernando, they had been pretty much doing it for years and this is what they do full-time.
Have you lost a lot of money?
That was a good thing; I did not really lose much money. There [were] a lot of things I had to figure out, but I did not really lose money at all. It was that I was getting better in getting more money and had more access, but I was able to figure it out. Then once I met them it was just…then the game was on.
Tell me about the Byron Allen interview. That must have been mind-blowing to have him coming to the studio. What was the response after he was there?
With Byron, you don’t really get to see too many African Americans doing it [like he did] and we don’t hear the stories on how they did it. Like a lot of times, people don’t like to share their stories. The fact that he shared what he did with the meetings and conversations, with his money and investing…and what he had to do, it lets you realize that you can get it. It is hard, nothing is easy, but it is definitely hard, but not impossible.
How did the listeners respond after he was on there?
I think the listeners were proud and happy. The fact that he was there and explained the story of how he did it, what he purchased, what he sacrificed, how hard he had to work and what he had to do, you don’t really see that often and especially for our communities.
So, what’s next for you? Besides the car shows and…how many real estate seminars did you do in 2019?
I think we did 12 real estate shows.
And I know the last time that we talked you were saying you were trying to make it free. Are you any closer to that?
I’m working on it. So many people have been calling me for so many different studies from councilmen to mayors to congressmen to all kinds of people and markets say[ing], “Hey, we really want you to come and really teach our community how to do it.”
So what we are going to do now instead of doing it in those cities, we are going to try to hit some of the smaller cities like Milwaukee or Orlando [or] Riley, Virginia, like a lot of those small areas that don’t necessarily get a lot of those conventions and conversations.
How are you able to spread yourself that thin though? Isn’t that a lot of work?
It is a lot of work but when you are helping people it feels good. [If] I was working and I hated it, I probably would not want to do it, but I really enjoy it when I talk to somebody and somebody says, “Hey, you changed my life, this is what I am going to do.”
One time a lady called the radio station. She said, “I don’t know what you did to my son, I don’t know what you said to my son, but the fact that he has changed his life and he wants to do this.“ She was like, “thank you.” And that is what we do it for.
Or when we speak to somebody and they purchase their first home and they are so excited and we got them a loan or we help them fix their credit – those are the things that give you that satisfaction of like, “wow, you are really changing the narrative, you are really helping people out there.”
Do people also reach out to you for advice on social media? I would think that you are bombarded with that, too.
All the time through DMs, emails. My partner actually hit[s] more people back than I do, I just do not have the time, but we try to help people. It is not about making money. We want to drive people the right way so that they don’t make the same mistakes that we made.
Have you noticed or have you recognized any opposition to what you are doing? Have you come across any pushback?
Yes, we had a couple of situations. I know the first couple of times when we started doing it, people were mad because we were guiding people to certain areas. We invested a lot in Atlantic City and Paterson [and] a lot of developers and people that were there were mad saying pretty much like, “well why are you telling everybody about here? That means everybody’s going to be here bidding on it.”
Yes, that is what I do, I want the people in this area that live here, that are right here, to be able to purchase their own community [and] if you have a problem with this, f**k you. We had a lot of, I guess you could say opposition, with people that do seminars that really take advantage of people.
I was going to ask you about that too.
We don’t charge $20,000, $10,000,… $1,000, [or] $500, you know. We don’t charge that, but we bring people to people and there is no upcharge [to] bring the credit repair guy. We bring the conventional lending guy, the hard money lending guy. We bring attorneys and agents and auction our condos. If you want to talk to any of them, there is no upfront fee of $10,000. That’s not what we do. We really want to help people and a lot of people are mad because this is a scheme for a lot of people.
There are a lot of people getting over on people and I’m glad we’re shutting a lot of that down and stopping a lot of people from losing thousands and thousands of thousands of dollars.
… Some of those “people” have been on the show.
Yes, absolutely. And you don’t know about it until you get into the game and once you get into the game and you see it, you are like this is f**ked up, like what they are doing it f**ked up.
And then what unfortunately happens is once they get screwed then they look at the whole industry that way and then they say, “f**k it.” They don’t want to do it at all.
Absolutely, that’s why every seminar we do I start off with, “Hey if you have been to any other seminar put your hand up.” And then I ask them how much did you pay? Did you learn a lot? And at the end of our seminar, I ask the same people, “did you learn more in this seminar than you learned in that [one]?”
And everybody says, “hell yes.” They didn’t spend nearly as much money, they got more knowledge, they got pictures, they got actual people that actually do it. This is what we do, we get excited for doing it.
Me and my partner, I’m in the office now, me and my partners we argue about different things. Like when I’m trying to buy a house for myself and I want it and he’s like, “no, I’m not going to let you buy it because it’s not a good deal, I don’t care how much you like it.” And we go back and forth but that’s what we need to really learn about the industry because nobody else is going to teach us, so we have to teach ourselves.
What determines a good deal? What are the first three things that you look for?
The one thing one of my partners will say is you need to have equity in that property. I tell everybody all the time if you go into buy real estate and you are not going to get a great deal, that is not the deal that you want.
That is not an investment. You want to go to an auction house, you want to go to auction.com you want to go to the steps of City Hall to find those properties, you want to find abandoned properties. Those are the kind of properties that have a whole value, that’s going to have some equity in it so when the market drops, or the market falls you got some skin in the game that [will] always be okay.
Have you ever approached owners (wholesale)?
We don’t do wholesaling but people have reached out and said, “Hey, I cannot afford this house, I owe this much on it before the bank takes it would you want to buy it?” And in some situations, we would do that.
So, you were working on a former school when I saw you the last time, you’re converting it into low-income apartments. How’s that going?
That’s going great. We just had the architect do the rendering, we just had the permits approved and we are going to be starting in the next couple of weeks and hopefully, by summertime, we will have fencing and we will be making some money.
One thing I noticed about your seminar, I really have to give you a lot of credit for, is how extremely well organized it was. I’m not accustomed to seeing that kind of organization with these kinds of events. How did you come to that? How do you put together your team? How do you work on making sure that everything runs smoothly?
First of all, we are always around each other, so it is not one of those things where this is a money grabber. We just meet each other on Friday to make money like, for instance, we’re all in the office now, we have office space where I have my office, Cesar has his, Fernando has his, and there [are] secretaries and Jen has hers.
We go to all these different seminars and we go to all these different events and we see what we don’t like about them. And then with my car show, I go to all these different car shows and I say, “what did I hate about that car show? How can I make my car show better?”
The same…with my seminars, what didn’t I like? People had to do this? What did I not like? Well, there was no literature for people to leave with. What did I not like? People could not ask questions or people just ran off the stage, you didn’t really get a chance to talk to somebody, it didn’t start on time, etc. So, we try to do it so that people can get a clear shot because you know it’s a weekend so if people are spending five [or] six hours with you, you want to make it worth their while.
That is really positive. I’m really happy to see you do well with that. As a matter of fact, I just kind of went through the same thing. I’ve been going to a lot of white radio conventions and I didn’t do a convention for the longest time because I didn’t want to do a typical black radio convention.
And as soon as I went to a couple of white ones, I was like, “okay, this is how I want to do it.” Where people walk away, they learn something, where you have equipment and opportunities, where you can see what’s coming up with the industry. We don’t generally see that at our events.
Like you said, it’s kind of a money grab and family reunion type thing and I never wanted to do that. So that’s interesting you should say that because I think that’s true [that] you have to go out and see what other people are doing in order to formulate what you’re doing.
Speaking of which, you mentioned that you’re doing 20 seminars next year. 20 stops?
Probably around 20. I would say about 15 to 40 next year.
Have people offered to invest with you?
Yes, but we’re not an investment company. Like, I just can’t take somebody’s one hundred grand and say do this. I can’t take somebody’s $500,000 and say do this. That is not what I am trying to do. Like I tell people all the time, if you want to come to learn, you can come with me and see what we do.
It’s no fun walking over heroin needles, there’s no fun walking in the hood and stepping over dirt and shit and nastiness. You have to really do this so you can really, really appreciate what you are getting and how that money comes in.
Like, I have a million-and-one jobs, but I will tell you the truth when the money comes between the first and the fifth of the month and I get those envelopes, that feels so much better because of the work that we put in to do it.
How many income properties do you own right now?
Oh, wow. as far as being an entrepreneur – what would you suggest that people do when they put together a team? Should they look for people who can lead or people who can lead them?
I will say a little bit of both. For instance, I can come to Cesar when it comes to something which, relatively, I honestly don’t know and I am not afraid to ask. I am not afraid to sound like a dummy. Or if I am talking to Fernando or trying to learn information, we kind of try and use each other’s gifts to make the whole business work.
Whether [it] is…me using my celebrity to get a meeting to try and get a deal done, or me using my ability to do promos or whatever it may be, or Cesar’s ability or knowledge of real estate, or Fernando, who used to be a real estate agent who knows the other side of things. We use each other’s gifts to make the business flourish.
Are you still working on your music?
Not as much anymore. Artists are crazy and dealing with artists is always a headache and if I don’t have to deal with artists I prefer not to. I still love music. I love the Breakfast Club, which has nothing to do with it, but as far as doing an album or recording, I prefer not to.
Okay, so you have a big family, you’re doing real estate, you’re doing the radio show, the car show and you’re doing other things for [the] radio show. How many hours do you have to yourself each day on average?
Nottoo many; I guess when I sleep. My normal day looks like The Breakfast Club, then I leave the Breakfast Club, I come to the office I am in the office for a little bit doing real estate. And in the office, I could be looking at properties or flying somewhere to go check something out.
I used to get home about five o’clock by the time the kids come home and by that time, if they [we]re not in swimming class, [playing] basketball, football or baseball, we [we]re eating dinner, playing Monopoly, put[ting] them to sleep and then I got to spend some time with the wife,… watching the stupid reality shows with the wife or watching a movie with the wife, and then [went] to sleep and then [got] back up in the morning [to] do it all over again.
Are you still doing your podcast? (The Casey Crew)
I do the podcast once a week with the wife and then on the weekends I usually travel to do shows, like the last couple of months, the last eight weeks, with like an HBCU homecoming. So I got to travel to all the different colleges.
That’s a lot, but I have fun doing it. I allow the kids to ask me questions whether it’s about communication, to real estate, you know. I didn’t necessarily have that. The fact that I do that for them, I just love it.
So how long do you think you can keep the schedule up?
I will be honest with you, I am slowing up now and with the real estate – and real estate doing so well – I don’t necessarily do parties during the weekend anymore. I just don’t have the time. I just enjoy it, you know. I looked at Kid Capri, I looked at Red Alert, they enjoy it.
And somebody’s like,” how long [will] you…be in the club?” [It] is like, I really am in the club, I enjoy watching people there. I enjoy watching somebody come into the club that had a bad night, just got fired up and f**ked up, and then when you play a song, you talk to them or you can…relieve them from all that stress. It’s like, I really enjoy that because if I didn’t, I definitely wouldn’t do it.
You told me you want to do more than one car show. Is that still in the works?
Yes, the goal is to do a couple of different markets, hopefully, Detroit, Houston, Miami, Atlanta, as well as New York. And maybe even doing a show. Like, there’s so many different reality shows and real estate shows but none of them really look like us, so maybe I can jump into that world. That might be an option as well.
There was a bit of a controversy on the Breakfast Club with Charlamagne Tha Goddoing his outside interview with Gucci Mane where he threatened you and he said some unfavorable things about you and Angela Yee. Did you guys settle it?
There [is] nothing to settle with Gucci. I think Gucci had some words, he was upset at something that Angela Yee said on-air and, like I said, for every action, there is a reaction.
I’ve been threatened by some of the biggest people out there. I’ve been threatened by Biggie, I’ve been threatened by so many artists before, so for me, it was nothing.
I really don’t love the language that was used but I mean as far as Charlemagne, me…and everybody else, for me, if I can eat anything else, it’s like, you know, you work with somebody for ten years every day. It’s is not always going to be hunky-dory. It’s like a marriage. I wish that every day in the life of me and my wife was great, but some days we argue.
It doesn’t mean [if] we [are] arguing it’s going to end up in a divorce, but it’s going to be arguing and you might yell and scream and then the next day we[‘re] all good. But that’s like any situation.
But if you think about it, we’re the longest-lasting urban morning show really [that] I could think of, and the only show that hasn’t had any character changes, that hasn’t had any…so out of ten years,…this one thing is the only thing. I think we did pretty good.