DJ Laz Helped Put Miami On the Hip-Hop Map
When my homeboy, Lazaro "DJ Laz" Mendez, suddenly resigned last week from the radio station where he's worked for the past 22 years, I called him up to find out what was going on. The last time I heard him this happy was when I invited him to be part of my performance at 2010's VH1 Hip Hop Honors show paying tribute to the pioneers of Southern rap music. Before we went onstage with Pitbull and Trick Daddy, Laz had a glow on his face. He loves entertaining people.
Laz helped me put Miami on the hip-hop map by injecting a little Cuban mojo into the booty music genre with hits such as "Mami El Negro," "Esa Morena," and "Sabrosura." When Laz broke into the scene, he was the first of his kind. In addition to being a well-known radio personality, he's a talented artist and music producer. He combined all three trades into successfully marketing himself as one of the best musicians coming out of Miami.
During a recent conversation, Laz said he wanted to focus on the happy things in his life: making music and going on the road. He felt stifled by the current state of FM radio. Back in the '80s and '90s, disc jockeys had a daily playlist of 50 to 60 songs. Every week, ten to 20 new ones were added to the list. Nowadays, it's down to 20. I can see how running the same tracks over and over can get boring.
Yet he was the consummate professional. Every weekend, he was doing gigs despite the fact that he had to get up at 4 o'clock in the morning Monday through Friday for his show on Power 96. It was a grueling schedule that can take a toll on anybody.
While I am excited for Laz, his resignation from the airwaves leaves a big hole in the local radio market.
He was one of the few morning DJs with deep roots in South Florida. Most of the radio hosts today are transplants from New York, New Orleans, or Orlando. Heck, 99 Jamz doesn't even have a local morning show. The station airs a syndicated show from Dallas. But that's the sorry state of the industry.
So I can't blame Laz for having the balls to do what most hard-working people always dream of doing: quit a stable, well-paying job for a new, creative challenge. I'm excited to see what he cooks up.
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