Marlon Deandre Maiden has compiled an impressive resume, most notably with his four years as the resident DJ on BET’s former flagship show 106 & Park. Maiden, better known to the masses as DJ ASAP, derived his moniker from the phrase “Always Serve A Purpose,” which has provided him with a constant reminder of his “true north” as he pursues his vision for his career.
Like many who ply their craft behind turntables, his initial foray into DJing was as a hobby that morphed into a career.
“Growing up I was always that kid who was downloading songs, and making mix CDs. So in my mind I thought DJing might be something that would come easy,” ASAP says. “My first gig was about 8 or 9 years ago when a friend asked if I could DJ her house party. I bought my equipment, did her party, and I was horrible. But I didn’t give up on myself. From there I started taking the craft seriously and taught myself how to DJ.”
ASAP’s humble beginnings resembles the story of many DJs. However, his rapid ascent does not. He formed a promotional collective called Team ASAP that utilized guerilla marketing techniques to build and solidify his brand. ASAP felt it was necessary to invest all of his efforts into DJing, so he took a leap of faith and quit his day job selling insurance at Liberty Mutual. Shortly after that he was hired for a 30-city Sprite promo tour. He hasn’t worked a day job since.
The path to 106 & Park began with DJ ASAP being booked for BET’s Spring Bling in 2010, the highest profile job he’d landed to date. “Spring Bling blew my mind that was my first national TV appearance. It really opened my eyes, and I thought to myself, ‘Man, I can really do this.’ It gave me the mindset that I can travel anywhere and succeed as a DJ,” ASAP says.
The TV gig led to a meeting with Terrence Clay, at the time a producer at BET. The two established a good rapport and within a year Clay brought DJ ASAP into the fold at 106 & Park. In less than three years ASAP had gone from purchasing his first turntables to working at BET.
“I was on the show Monday-Friday once a month, 2011-2014, when it was cancelled,” he says. “They didn’t give me a lot of direction. They pretty much put me out there and let me figure it out on my own. I got the chance to see the entire production behind the scenes, and learned how everything worked.”
ASAP decided he needed to find additional ways to capitalize on his exposure. Back home in Dallas during and after his run at BET, ASAP, promoter Michelle Milton, and his protege DJ Duffey (now tour DJ for the rapper Curren$y) broke off on their own, dispensing with promoters and hosting their own events, which often sold out.
“Some promoters didn’t like that we were violating the food chain, so to speak,” ASAP says. “I might have been making $500-$800 or so per gig DJing, but when we started throwing our own events we’re walking out the door with $8,000-$10,000.”
Last fall ASAP launched his own production/A&R development imprint, Honor Roll Entertainment, which operates its studio and office out of North Texas. To make Honor Roll a formidable company ASAP is leveraging the business contacts he made working at BET. “I’m fortunate, at this point in my career I’m a call or two away from reaching anyone I need to in the music industry,” he says.
The stage name he has adopted, “Always Serve A Purpose” seems more appropriate now than ever. His newfound mission includes mentoring young people in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, and encouraging entrepreneurial pursuits with his outreach platform and apparel brand Mogul Behavior. ASAP has participated in public speaking events at Ronald Reagan Middle School in Grand Prairie, Lancaster High School, Cedar Hill High School, The DeSoto High School Male Leadership & Empowerment Symposium, and The Chocolate Mint Foundation.
Just last week, ASAP held a private launch event for Mogul Behavior hosted by Shark Tank’s Daymond John, which was attended by local business owners, executives, and community activists. ASAP still works the local and national club circuit — that’s something he says he’ll never stop doing. However, his career is evolving, allowing him to expand outside the DJ booth.