DJ Aaries 

Ultimate hustler redefines the grind

DJ Aaries prefers not to give his government name. But the secrets to his burgeoning success he offers with ease.

"You know, normally when you give away something that's good and that's meaningful, it'll come back to you," says the founder of Hood Hard Hitmakers, a networking coalition that links DJs and independent artists. With that motive in mind, Aaries recorded a DVD to share some of his insight and demystify the art of the indie hustle.

"I noticed everybody always says 'keep grinding,' but nobody ever tells anyone how to do anything," says the DJ, who cuts to the chase in his DVD. Instead of vying for the attention of well-established artists, he says, DJs should start by collaborating with the hungry artists they see around them.

By forming such relationships with hometown singers including Ayanna and Malachi of the second-generation Dungeon Family, Aaries earned a spot as the touring DJ for former No Limit rapper Fiend.

Meanwhile, his Hood Hard coalition has grown to include more than 100 DJs, artists and hip-hop publications. Unlike a traditional DJ record pool, he says, the movement is designed to help "underdogs" achieve top-dog status.

"Everybody's trying to get to a certain place, so instead of everybody driving their individual cars, we're just catching the bus."

Aaries himself may be well on his way. The aforementioned motivational DVD he made to give away for free ended up coming in handy when he discovered Rocawear's "I Will Not Lose" campaign on BlackPlanet.com. After beating out more than 500 contestants by explaining how he'd overcome the odds, Aaries will be featured in print ads for Rocawear's spring '08 fashion line.

But it's more than a hustle for Aaries. "I plan on having a good time, and I plan on getting to the top with a lot of people around me [who] come up together."

To view part of his winning video, visit IWillNotLose.org or HoodHardDJs.com.

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