The Philly native is the co-host of Sean ‘P. Diddy’ Comb’s flagship show, REVOLT Live. Damage recounts his career journey and creating opportunities for himself every step of the way.
At the youthful age of 24, North Philadelphia native, Abdul Muhammad known to most as DJ Damage has had a plethora of career experiences. After visiting Los Angeles in 2013 for the Grammy Awards, he envisioned himself living in L.A. and six months later he was here as a co-host for Sean P. Diddy Combs new music network REVOLT. Damage along with co-host, Sibley, anchor the network’s flagship show, REVOLT Live, which recently won the 2014 Cablefax Program Awards for Best Music Hosts.
Through faith, hard work and his ability to leave a lasting impression on everyone he encounters, Damage has created opportunities for himself each step of the way. He says, “I’m thankful because you can live in L.A. for years without a break and I’m here living my dream. I think it’s dope that I came out here with a career and I’m moving towards my passion. There’s nothing wrong with moving to L.A. and then trying to figure things out but I thank GOD that my dream has come true in this type of way.”
Before Damage was a promising television personality, he was an eleven-year-old DJ in Philly while his brother Fese rapped. They wanted to emulate fellow Philly natives, Fresh Prince (Will Smith) and DJ Jazzy Jeff. He says, “I never looked at DJing as a path to being a “celebrity”, I just cared about the craft; rocking parties and scratching, I was so adamant about it. I got good grades but I didn’t know what I was going to do career wise outside of [being a] DJ. It was suggested to me that I study communications in college because I said I always wanted to be on the radio.”
Soon Damage was a student at Temple University and DJing on the radio at a local station. Eventually he wanted to be more viable with an additional skill set and he transitioned into being a radio personality. After actualizing his longtime dream of DJing on the radio, he wondered what was the next step? He was encouraged to pursue working in television. He hadn’t done any on camera interviews at that time so the next step was to gain experience.
At the time, Damage was sponsored by a clothing store called Villa. He pitched an idea of doing a show that would air in the Villa stores. His first interview was with rapper, The Game. He recalls, “There were about six-hundred people there for The Game’s in-store [CD signing] I had never interviewed a celebrity before; I got thrown right into the fire but it went well. From there I went on to interview all of the tastemakers in the city and I posted it online. Things fell through with the show for the clothing store but randomly, my manager got a call from someone who had been checking out my website and wanted me to auditioned for BET. If I had never attempted to create that show and began doing interviews, no one would have known that I was capable of hosting.”
Initially, Damage was supposed to be one of the new hosts of the BET music countdown show, 106&Park. Though things didn’t pan out, he was still on the radio in Philly and humbly says former host, Shorty The Prince was the best choice for the gig. Soon after, P.Diddy began a social media campaign in search of hosts for his network, REVOLT. A former BET employee who was then at REVOLT suggested that Damage would be a great host. He recounts, “I sent my reel in and several weeks later I got an audition in New York. I was sent a script and told there was going to be a prompter. But the day of, there was no teleprompter! I thought I bombed it. I went back to Philly on the bus with my head down. I thought I ruined my only opportunity to be on TV.”
A month later, Damage was leaving Vegas after interviewing Adrian Broner for the Heavy Hitters DJs Crew. As the plane was about to take off, he received a text from one of Puff’s assistance’s saying Puff wanted to speak to him immediately. Damage recalls, “I thought, ‘do you get off the plane when Puff wants to talk to you?’ What do you do? I didn’t want to loose the opportunity by not taking the call but then the plane took off and I loss service. When I was finally able to reply they didn’t reply back. I thought I ruined another opportunity. A week goes by, I get a call at 1am saying the chairman, Puff, wanted to interview me the next day in New York at 4pm.”
To his surprise, when Damage arrived at the Bad Boy Records offices for the interview, the experience was recorded. He was mic’d up, and asked a series of questions on camera. He says, “I thought I was on a reality show and I didn’t know it. When I did the interview, I was comfortable talking to Puff. He asked me my opinion of the network. Because I really wanted this job I had done all of my research. I knew what he wanted it to be and I knew what I wanted to add to it.”
As fans on social media, where he has over forty-thousand Instagram followers, swoon over his celebrity interviews and photo shoots, few know the process that their favorite host have had to go through to get to where he is. Damage says, “I took a huge risk leaving my job for REVOLT. I could have gotten fired just for leaving for the interview. You don’t leave a live radio broadcast. I didn’t say I was sick, I just disappeared.”
On what he’s learned from working with and having the opportunity to interview Diddy, Damage says, “I’ve learned that you have to have more than one hustle. I used to be stuck in one lane of only being a DJ but in life, it doesn’t work like that. You can’t make money that way, you have to have four and five different lanes. I’m currently in a transitional phase trying to figure out what’s going to be those different hustles.”
What has Damage learned about the business aspects of the industry that he would relay to others? “Try not to take everything so personal. Don’t think that everyone is your friend or has your best interest at heart. Have your own team and value them; show that you’re grateful. Many of the people that truly care about the well being of others aren’t being properly thanked. Then they become bitter and don’t want to reach back and help the next generation.” He continues, “Never feel like you’re invincible or better than anyone that works with you because you can always be replaced. At REVOLT, I talk with the crew and eat with the crew. The camera men are just as important to me, I’m not better than them. You never know how people will come back into your life so be a good person, have good karma. Sometimes things happen outside of your control but if you always have good intentions and you want to help others, great things are going to happen for you.”
To learn more about DJ Damage follow him on Instagram and Twitter: @TheRealDJDAMAGE