Idris Elba defies classification. He is a Brit, yet he slings slang as good as a brotha born and raised in any hood U.S.A. Although a bonafide heartthrob, he is surprisingly cool like that. And how many actors do you know who can move the crowd as a professional DJ? Idris Elba, also known as DJ Driis, is that dude.
He first gained wide recognition for his role as Russell “Stringer” Bell on HBO’s critically-acclaimed drama The Wire. Men respected his gangsta as the Baltimore drug kingpin, and women loved him for his effortless sex appeal. The character put him on the map, and when he met his untimely demise, people poured some out like he was their fallen homie. A steady stream of film roles have followed, including his first turn as a big screen leading man in Daddy’s Little Girls opposite Gabrielle Union earlier this year. He can currently be seen in the number one film in the country, American Gangster, alongside Denzel Washington, Common, and T.I.
Whereas Elba enjoys acting, his first love is music. He’s made moves in the UK rap game with the release of the EP Big Man, and he’s also a producer, having recently done work on Angie Stone’s The Art of Love and War and Jay-Z’s American Gangster. However, where Idris really gets busy is on the turntables. With a record collection that would spark envy in most, he has spun for over 20 years and is a highly sought after guest DJ. When I caught up with Idris he was on his way to a gig at Washington, D.C.’s 930 Club, and he gave me a peek into his life behind the music as DJ Driis.
*Music from Big Man played during the interview:
“The Burn” featuring Candy Man, and “Me & Miss” featuring Big London and Nana.