Razorback Nation is the Sixth Man when the basketball team plays at Bud Walton Arena and one member has been getting crowd hyped for about three years.
Equipped with turntables and a love for music, DJ Derrick gives Hog fans that extra jolt of energy before tipoff. He mixes old and new school jams that appeal to fans of all age groups and backgrounds.
Before DJ Derrick became the self-acclaimed official DJ for Razorback Athletics, the Texarkana native began his career as a disk jockey in his hometown.
“When I started DJing, my father owned a nightclub in Texarkana called Mr. D’s ... For me to get into that, I didn’t really have a choice,” he said. “It was always right there.”
Derrick recalled his first mix and said, “My dad heard it and had me making mixes for the nightclub before I was even old enough to get in there. He made me put it on tape and he told me that every time it rocked.”
Derrick’s mixes for his father’s nightclub were so great, his uncle tapped him to do mixes for the local radio station he owned. After gaining popularity from his club and radio mixes, the DJ was also asked to create mixes for high school pep rallies and DJ at school dances.
DJ Derrick’s love for spinning records didn’t stop after high school, he took his speakers, turntables and crates filled with records to the UofA.
“I just did it for fun when I got up here. When I first got here, I lived in Yocum and I brought all of the equipment and put it in my dorm room,” he said. “I used to just open the doors of the dorm and just be in there scratching and mixing. Everybody started opening their doors, listening.”
Two weeks into the semester, a few members of the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity heard him and encouraged him to enter a talent show they were hosting. The young journalism student rocked the crowd with his unique style of mixing and inquiries for a party DJ flew in immediately.
Derrick’s popularity on campus opened up opportunities for him to spin records at university sponsored events, corporate events and area nightclubs. His tenure with Razorback Athletics started from one of those moments.
“Mike Harris heard me at a picnic in front of the Union. It was him and it also the track coach who heard me and were like ‘We need you at our events,’” he explained.
“I just thought they were talking mess … and nothing would come out of it. Then, they hit me up and was like ‘We need you at the Red & White game,’” he continued. That was three years ago.
This snowball effect landed him an ongoing partnership with the Razorback Pom Squad that was created to bring a NBA atmosphere to Hog basketball games.
Pom squad coach Brooke Bailey said she admires DJ Derrick’s professionalism and extensive knowledge about music.
“The thing about DJ Derrick is that he understands Razorback fans and he understands that there is a variety of fans at Bud Walton Arena,” Bailey said.
“His music can reach across the generations,” she said. “He might play a song that everyone might clap along to but resonate more with a younger demographic … opposed to season holders who’ve been there for a long time.”
Veteran pom squad member Payton Lyon described his sound as “old school flare,” and said it accommodates to the fan base present at Bud Walton.
“He’s good at knowing what songs are appropriate … for the type of fans that we have because we are such a traditional school,” Payton said. “Basketball is a sport that you want kind of piped in music, hip-hop type feel … He’s very good at making it a very upbeat (NBA style) atmosphere.”
DJ Derrick acknowledges his role in the Razorback Nation and wants to remind them that it’s no easy task.
“From my heart, thank you for noticing,” he said.
“I try to do what I do and bring what I bring and not overshadow the band … I would never want to do that. Sometimes they keep me in there if the band is out of town … during that small time football is still going to fill in,” DJ Derrick said.
Razorback fans can hear DJ Derrick mix music at Bud Walton until tipoff and occasionally during games.