In 1983, hip hop exploded into the mainstream when sounds from the South Bronx came booming into people’s homes and stereos. This was also the year that Zack Hellman a.k.a. The World Famous DJ Vibe was born in New York City. Today, Vibe has become a leading figure in the mixtape circuit with tapes sold in hip hop shops from Paris to Tokyo, and he continues to make a name for himself with his numerous club appearances. From the New York City clubs to the posh parties of the Hampton’s, Vibe works relentlessly gaining praises from personalities, socialites, executives, club goers, and music aficionados.
“I got my first set of decks as a freshman in high school,” he states. “They were made for European outlets and my mixer didn’t even have a crossfader.” Much has changed since those early days. After high school Vibe worked as an intern for Sam Crespo in the promotions department at Island/Def Jam. There he met the nation’s leading DJs and began relationships with many of them including Big Mike, Craig G, and Tapemasters Inc. After getting a paying job in the department, Vibe worked there for a year before leaving to further pursue his DJ career. “I came there to do what I had to do. I met enough people to get me started and then I had to take it to the next level.”
At Def Jam, Vibe had met many of the street DJs who work day in and day out to supply the street with the newest music. He began to release old school mix CDs to the various distributors from Canal Street and Fulton Street to Jamaica Avenue and Fordham Road. “No one had ever just made exclusively old school CDs and people kept buying mine. I carved out a niche for myself even though I knew I could never be a best seller. It was the only way I was able to stay competitive.” Regardless, Vibe’s mixtapes were being sold across the nation, from Chicago to Los Angeles. CDs were even being sent to rural areas in North Carolina, Virginia, Texas, Minnesota, Ohio, and New Hampshire. Yet Vibe CDs found even better homes on foreign soil where there seemed to be a greater demand for his style. DJ Vibe mixtapes began appearing in stores in Montreal, London, Paris, Berlin and Tokyo.
Mixtapes may have gained DJ Vibe his notoriety, but working as DJ was his true passion. While releasing his CDs Vibe began to get offers to DJ in the clubs. Since then, Vibe has been forced to abandon the mixtape game to focus exclusively on his club engagements. Vibe has since played for crowds in New York’s leading clubs including The Supper Club, Groovejet, Wye Bar, 203 Lounge, The Green Room and Slate. Every summer Vibe plays for the elite crowds in the Hamptons at the Star Room, Boutique and Jet East. “My career has great momentum now and I have no plans of slowing down. It only takes one night for the right thing to happen to you and I have the time.”
Today Vibe continues to do work for artists, industry parties, and fashion shows. His eclectic sets include everything from disco, soul, funk, and new wave to hip hop, R&B, reggae, and rock n roll. On the turntables nothing is excluded from the mix and this has been what has continued to make DJ Vibe so popular. Sitting among stacks of records in his Brooklyn studio Vibe continues to search for that lost record that still deserves to be played. “DJs are responsible to give life to new music, but we also must keep old music alive. The latter seems to take up much more of my time.”