She plops down on the crisp white sofa. Her head is right above a stenciled, iHeart Media logo. “This is my first interview,” she said. “Not really but you know what I mean.”
From Paris to Philly. Her latest trip to New Orleans is just one of the many places where Nyla has left her mark. The German born, military brat, calls Maryland home but often finds herself on the nearest flight to a destination she has yet to uncover.
Her pit-stop in the Big Apple is her new stomping grounds--her home away from home. 21 year old, Nyla Billups, St. Johns graduate, Power 105.1 and Source intern, is navigating the concrete jungle and hustling her way to the top of the entertainment industry. In an industry that is heavily dominated by men, Nyla is taking the world by storm, garnering every skill and following in the footsteps of powerful women like Angie Martinez, Angela Yee and Karen Civil. She is a jack of all trades. Not only does she want to crack the mic and rock the airways on radio, she is also proclaiming the title as a powerhouse Dj.
“When I was younger I’d tell people that I want to be Oprah,” said Nyla. “I want to be an influencer. My two passions in life are social issues and Hip-Hop and I am trying to find a way to combine both.”
Nyla found her love for Hip-Hop through influencer's close to home, her parents. They were both students of the game. She recalls being exposed to Wu Tang and other classic 90’s artists, way before she knew she wanted to be a personality.
“My father was big on New York music, but my family is from the south. We listened to a lot of Trick Daddy and a lot of Outkast,” she said. “I grew up off that culture. Sure, I watched Disney Channel but BET! I could tell you all the shows that came on and at what time.”
In High school, Nyla began to entertain the idea of Djing. Djing is the first element of Hip-Hop culture. The complex mixing and scratching of 70’s disco and mcing is the foundation of the music we love today.
“Disco was brand new then and there were a few jocks that had monstrous sound systems but they wouldn't dare play this kind of music,” said Grand Master Flash. “They would never play a record where only two minutes of the song was all it was worth. They wouldn't buy those types of records.”
Grand Master Flash is a Hip-Hop pioneer and the creator of ‘the scratch’. An idol in Nyla’s eyes to say the least, Grand Master Flash is a worldwide Hip-Hop pundit. Practice is the key to mastering the craft but in high school Nyla fell short of that effort. Her first piece of equipment was only $50.
Spin. Stop. Scratch. Spin.
The record to Nyla’s life turned around when she began to intern at Power 105.1. Power 105.1 is the home of the Breakfast Club—Angela Yee, Charlemagne the God and Dj Envy. It is also the home of radio legend, Angie Martinez—an original reporter of Hip-Hop news.
“When I started working here at Power, being around some of the best MC’s to do it, DJ TY Boogie, DJ Will, DJ Clue, DJ Self—when I see them spin and scratch, its inspiring,” she said. “I want to be the one to make the people dance because when they get on I want to move, I want to have that same power too.”
Nyla took her last refund check and invested in herself. Her brand new Serato equipment is now part of the soundtrack to her life. Building relationships with the Power 105 DJ’s, who participate in Angie Martinez’s ‘Live at Five,’ has allowed Nyla to master transitioning techniques and the baby scratch. She pays homage to You Tube also. The internet is a driving force in her ability to practice and master mixing.
“I am trying to start small before I go big. I am going to take my time,” she said. “I am going to stay humble and work my way up. I don’t want to be a button pusher.”
Her first gig transcended #Black Girl Magic. Nyla, was the feature Dj at the first Fifty Shades of Magic event. Fifty Shades of Magic, is a non-profit organization led by Nyla and a few distinguished women who are climbing the ladder in their respective industries. It is an open platform focused on the mentorship, guidance and development of young girls. Nyla played empowering music from the soundtracks of Beyonce, Solange and the iconic Lauryn Hill.
Nyla is one of the many revolutionary women Dj’s that are on the rise. Her counterparts Vashtie and Kitty Cash have broken into an industry that has been male dominated for many years. Her passion for Women’s Rights, the Black Lives Matter movement and the fight for political integrity are driving forces in Nyla’s love for music.
“I want to use my platform to talk about the next presidential campaign or voting for the senate,” she said. “The biggest issue is that a lot of people don’t know [politics] but everyone loves music, so I want to be able to draw people in through music.”
Take #TheInitiative to keep up with Nyla