Straight out of Trenton, NJ, comes an 80's baby born to a 19 year old mother. Hellz was in love with music for as long as his memory serves. He used to sing Luther Vandross, Barry White, Whitney Houston, and many other legendary artists' songs, while sitting in the back seat of the car as his mother drove. At the of age 3, his mother and stepfather moved into their own first apartment in the crime and poverty stricken Roger Gardens housing projects in West Trenton, where you could literally find hundreds of crack cocaine vials scattered about the complex grounds, and was also home to the then 'up-and-coming' legendary Hip-hop group 'Poor Righteous Teachers'. But things weren't completely bad. Little did he know, what was then considered a "fad" would be the thing that would keep him uninterested in the many dangerous life styles surrounding him. These housing projects were where he got his first taste of Hip-hop music in the late summer of 1988 when Rob Base released the classic "It Takes Two", which was being blasted in every corner of Roger Gardens at that time. It was here that he began his elementary school career, attending first grade at Stokes Elementary, which was a short two blocks from his home.

As he got older, around the age of 7, Hip-hop music began to catch his ear. This was shortly after his family moved to a bigger apartment in East Trenton. He would always hear the older guys on the block playing Rakim songs and several other Hip-hop tapes while walking home from Paul Robeson Elementary, where he attended grades 2-5. He would always rush home to try to catch BET's "Rap City", which he often missed due to the show airing while school was still in session. But he would always find himself "beat-boxing" and drumming on table tops, mimicking the sounds he heard in the songs.

As junior high school approached, his family then moved back out to West Trenton; this time in the area that went by the street name "Down Da Hill (DDH)". At the age of 11, his mother bought him his first cd player boom box for Christmas. His Aunt Kim also gave him his first Hip-hop album that Christmas, which was Ice Cube's "Lethal Injection" album. At that point, he was hooked. A couple of short years later, Helly started rapping at the age of 13 while attending 8th grade at Junior 3 middle school. He would write numerous songs and verses and walk around his neighborhood with all of his newest lyrics folded up in his back pocket, ready to perform one for friends. You could hear his Wu influence through his intricate word play and punch line filled rhyme flow.

Around this time, Hellfire found out his childhood friend, who now goes by the name of 'Ampkilla' and is the younger brother of Trenton's R&B sensation, 'Link' (of POV), had a studio in his basement. While Link was gone, Amp would be in the basement making beats on an old Ensoniq keyboard with a built in sequencer paired with a really old Roland half rack sound module. Ampkilla would make his own songs recorded to 8-track ADAT cassettes and eventually taught Hellfire how to make beats. The two would spend hours making beats and songs with other neighborhood friends. The sound of beats has always been Helly's main attraction to Hip-hop and although he loved everything about making beats, he did not have his own equipment to be able to get into it as he really wanted. Instead, he focused on sharpening his rhyming and writing skills.

Hellfire attended half of his 9th grade school year at Trenton Central High School before his family bought their first house in Ewing, which is one of the many suburbs of Trenton. His new house was a far walk from Ampkilla and his other friends from DDH that he started doing music with. So he kept writing songs and began recording them on his own using an Awai Hi-Fi stereo with built-in Karaoke. Since he had no beat making equipment, he would loop up open instrumental sections from other Hip-hop albums that he owned using a cut/copy/paste technique on a Sony Mini Disc recorder with a 3"x1" screen. He would run the beat from a tape on deck A and rap over the beat while it was recording onto deck B. Once he recorded all the verses, he would rewind the tapes and then switch them. The tape in deck A would go to B and vice versa. Then he would play the tape in deck A, which now was the tape that had the verses on the beat, and recorded on to deck B (which had the beat on it originally), and record the hooks on the second pass. Then he would do it one last time and adlib the verses and double the hooks all in one recording on the final take. The main problem with this method is that if he got all the way to the last verse and messed up, he would have to redo the whole thing from the beginning. There was no punching in with this method, but he got it done.

After a couple of years of living in Ewing and missing his childhood friends, just a mere 2 houses away, his first childhood friend, Bayshawn, from Roger Gardens moved in. It just so happened that Bayshawn rapped as well. They immediately clicked, just as they did as toddlers, and began making tracks and tapes together. During this time it was very common to see Hellfire in the middle of a rap cipher in the cafeteria and gymnasium of Ewing High School.

When Helly was 17, his mother bought him a set of Gemini turntables. He would make mixtapes and blend tapes, along with his own tapes that he was rapping on and would sell the tapes at school. At this time, he was taking a computer graphics design class and was able to make high quality artwork for his tapes that gave them an edge over the other tapes people on his level were doing. There were some days where he would make a decent amount of pocket cash in school alone off of selling these tapes.

Not shortly after that, rapper 'Big Ooh!' began attending the school as well. Even at that time, Ooh was a deadly MC and began making a name for himself around the school. Ooh and Hellfire clicked immediately. Big Ooh then introduced Hellz to DJ/MC/Producer, Arson Pachino (AP), who also attended Ewing High and had a group called Underworld Entertainment. AP heard Hellfire’s tape through Ooh and invited him to his spot where he taught Hellz how to use the Akai MPC2000 and put him down with Underworld. There were about 10 members back then. Maintaining a 10 man group is difficult. So, eventually that number went from 10, to 6, to 5, and then just 4; Hellfire, AP, Deuce, and Alamaj!

After that Hellz started making beats and rapping for Underworld. About a year later Hellfire bought a new MPC2000XL so he could do beats at home. Heavily influenced by groups like Wu-Tang, Mobb Deep, Def Squad, and several other "Golden Era" pioneers, Hellfire's beats had a mixture of gritty, hardcore melodies and drum patterns to smooth, heartfelt soulful sounds that many local MC's couldn't get enough of. Several years later, Hellfire began getting bored with rapping, especially after his 15 year old brother, Jharod, unexpectedly passed away. He then began focusing more on making beats. Over the course of several years, he perfected his beat-smithing and continued making beats for UE and local acts.

Although he recorded most of Underworld's material back in the early 2000's while living in a Hamilton, NJ apartment with his girlfriend (now wife), Hellfire never intended on getting serious into studio recording and mixing. But in the summer of 2008, Hellz received a call from long time friend and studio client 'Enuff Sedd' ('E' for short). The news was not good. E had informed Helly that he had been diagnosed with lung cancer, which caused several other illnesses, and that his "time" was short. The previous year, Hellfire’s first cousin, Chaz Murray was gunned down and murdered in a robbery attempt outside of his home in Hamilton, NJ. This was a devastating blow in itself, because Hellz and Chaz were more like brothers than cousins. E had some stuff he had written in memory of Chaz but had nowhere else to record it and had asked Hellfire to record it. But at that time, Hellfire only had production equipment and no way of recording songs, since all the recording equipment belonged to AP, who now lived an hour away from Hellz.

Around this same time Hellfire got a call from childhood friend and MC, Surg, who happened to get a hold of a Hellfire beat tape from Chaz and heard several songs he and E wanted to record to. Unfortunately, Hellfire had to disappoint him as well by not being able to record. But the thing with E bothered Hellfire so badly, knowing that E may not be able to get what could be his last ideas off of his chest. Fortunately, Hellfire and his wife had purchased a house in 2007 which gave Hellz the space to house a studio.  So a few weeks later, Hellfire spent nearly $3000 on recording equipment including a new mic, computer, an entry level Pro Tools Mbox 2 system, and a pair of monitors. Hellz spent about a month learning how to use the equipment by recording with Surg.

Then in October 2008, E finally got into the studio and was able to do a couple of tracks; one which was in collaboration with Surg. Little did they know, those would be E's last recordings as he passed away a month later. Although E had other songs written to Hellfire beats that he didn't get the time to record, Hellz was honored to have been able to record E's last words!

In spite of the fact that Hellfire lost two great men in his life in such a short time and so unexpectedly, other things were looking up. He and Surg realized that they had such amazing chemistry in music that the two went on to record over 50 songs between 2008-2009. Sitting on all that material, the two decided to form a group. They go simply by the name 'Surg & Hellfire' and released their debut LP in 2009 entitled "The Activator". Since then, realizing he had an ear for great quality recording and mixing, Hellfire has invested over another $10,000 in his studio and continues to add on. Together, Surg & Hellfire bring the people soulful, underground style Hip-hop music that always has a message and are set to release their sophomore LP entitled "Live & Learn" in 2011. With a catalog of over 70 songs and something that everyone can relate to, "Surg & Hellfire" is sure to become a household name!


DJ Hellfire
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