At first glance, Ryan Mahoney appears to be your average 20 year old, almost too laid back college student, but once his needle is set, Philly style, of course, the Atlantic City area native transforms into one of Philadelphia’s most promising young DJs. Whether he is hosting the city’s only station that plays nothing but Philadelphia hip-hop or playing sets in dirty North Philly basements, it is clear that the turntablists loves the art of manipulating sounds and creating music. I sat down at Temple University’s Morgan Dining Hall to learn more about the man obsessed with the sounds of Philadelphia. (I got the Pleasant News Café – 4 out of 5 stars)
“99.3, the buzz. Atlantic City’s own hip-hip” Mahoney recites with ease. Despite growing up in the suburbs of the beach town, the disc jockey has always loved hip-hop. “We were just some rebellious white kids, I guess.” While spinning records was always an interest of his, it was not until he was 14 or 15 years old that he became serious about it. There was only one problem; what kind of teenager can afford vinyl turntables and a mixer?
Instead of giving up hope, Mahoney used the years where it was not plausible to DJ as a period to study the art of DJing and hip-hop as a whole. “I used to breakdance and I loved graffiti.” This came as no surprise after he disclosed his love for the 1983 film Wild Style. When asked about his biggest influences, he lists “DJ Premier, obviously, DJ Scratch, and DJ QBert.” Also, it was around this time in his life where he knew he wanted to be on the radio, expressing how much of an impact individuals like Funk Master Flex and Cosmic Kev had on his dreams and aspirations. Around 18 years old, DJ Ryan Mahoney graduated high school, acquired all the equipment he needed, and was ready to hit the city and jump start his career on the ones and twos.
Well, sort of. As a freshman at Saint Joseph’s University, Mahoney broke onto the airwaves with his show Live From the Underground. With one of the first hip-hop shows that SJU had ever had, DJ Ryan Mahoney would play the likes of Big KRIT, Joey Bada$$ and Kendrick Lamar. Although Mahoney recounts it as being a popular show, “it wasn’t poppin’” in his mind. So, he switched it up and created Philly Rap Fix, a show dedicated strictly to the artists and music of Philadelphia. Mahoney was having up to three guests a week on his show while making important connections in the Philadelphia hip-hop scene. This is where the “well, sort of” part come into account. “St. Joe’s didn’t have the scene I was looking for,” says Mahoney. He yearned to rock house shows, but hip-hop was not in demand. The lack of diversity and little support of hip-hop prompted him to transfer institutions and take his talents to the north side.
The move from the suburbs to the city has paid off. Today, DJ Ryan Mahoney has the rare opportunity to shape his education around hip-hop. While majoring in Media Studies and Production with a focus on audio engineering, Mahoney learns material from well-respected scholars and professionals that he applies to his work on WHIP Radio’s Philly Rap Fix. He prides himself on hosting the only show dedicated to Philly hip-hop, and Philly hip-hop is starting to appreciate him for that. Some of the city’s brightest young artists like Chill Moody, Young Savage and Theodore Grams have been guests on his show. Another thing that Mahoney prides himself on is his focus on the underground. “Power 99 plays Philly music, but not this Philly music,” says Mahoney. “I want to break artists. I feel like nobody does that anymore.” While you still hear the mainstream hits of Meek Mill on his show, the majority of the cuts are underground artists. If there is one guy who loves the sounds of Philadelphia, it is DJ Ryan Mahoney.
At just 20 years old, DJ Ryan Mahoney has accomplished a considerable amount in his young career. While Philly Rap Fix might be his most recognizable success, he says “there’s nothing better than a grimy, North Philly basement party. I just love being all in that action.” Even though he is becoming a more frequent performer in the Philadelphia scene, there is still a long way to go for Mahoney. No matter where he goes, he will be bringing Philadelphia with him.