The Club Beat Remembers DJ K-Swift With Club Queen Entertainment
(from left) Lady Pitbull, Buck Jones, Crystal, Darvin, Say Wut, DJ Big Nasty, Pork Chop
The death of Khia “DJ K-Swift” Edgerton sent shock waves through the Baltimore club music community and beyond, which will continue to be felt for years. In the immediate aftermath, countless friends, family members, fans, and 92Q co-workers held vigils, dedicated on-air programming to her, and spoke to the press about her. But one part of her inner circle that had been relatively quiet the week of K-Swift’s death was the staff of her company, Club Queen Entertainment. Many of them were busy with funeral arrangements, organizing events at clubs around the city to raise money for the Edgerton family, or were simply too consumed with grief to speak publicly so soon after the fact.
Last weekend, we sat down with eight members of Club Queen Entertainment, two weeks after K-Swift’s death, to talk about her friendship, her legacy, and her impact on them as individuals and Baltimore as a whole. DJ and producer Say Wut and his wife, Crystal, who hosted the meeting at their Sandtown home, both worked for Club Queen for several years, and after K-Swift helped popularize his music, they went on to launch Horsemen Entertainment. Party hosts Buck Jones, Lady Pitbull, and Pork Chop all frequently handled the microphone while K-Swift spun records. (Pork Chop, a rapper who came to work to 92Q via K-Swift, has since become a popular on-air personality and the station’s morning show co-host.) Darvin, better known as MVP Big D, ran K-Swift’s street team before starting his own company, Tru Goodfellas Entertainment. And DJs Lucky and Big Nasty spun at K-Swift events at clubs such as Twilight Zone, the Tunnel, Paradox, and Club Choices. (Other Club Queen mixers DJ Big L, Mike Mumbles, and K-Spin were unable to attend the interview.) All had worked with K-Swift since at least 2001, and most had known her for much longer than that. What follows is only part of that discussion, wherein K-Swift’s friends remember her with anecdotes both humorous and heartfelt, and grapple with a loss that’s still difficult to accept or explain.
City Paper: So what would you guys like to discuss today?
Crystal: I wanted the public to really understand what she did for everybody that was under her in Club Queen Entertainment, because if it wasn’t for Swift, we all would not have our own companies or even be in the entertainment industry right now. And people have heard from representatives from the radio station, they’ve heard representatives from Unruly. But nobody really heard anybody speaking on behalf of Club Queen, which was her company. I think needs to be told, because she helped so many people, and she affected all of us directly.
Darvin: I met her through a friend of mine. We became real close friends. When times is hard for me, she looked out for me–like, “I’ll give you a job passing out fliers along with Crystal and Say Wut on the promotional team.” In the course, I picked up on how to learn the business, other than promotin’, the whole other side with the DJs, what type of deals to make with people, club owners, the whole nine. If it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t be doin’ what I’m doin’ now. I didn’t have no other outlook outside of basketball, that’s the only thing I dreamed about–I was living paycheck to paycheck.
CP: And you were with the company for how long?
Darvin: I was with Club Queen from 2001 to like ’03, that’s when I basically started my own company.
CP: So most of y’all knew her for at least five-10 years, a long time.
Pork Chop: Well, most of us known Swift way before the company. We started at Twilight–me, Buck, Lucky, and Big L was workin’ for the club. So it started there. And she said, “Let’s do the Club Queen Entertainment thing,” from there. When Swift first got her own money and threw the parties herself, we was all in there. We might not have been gettin’ paid, but we all was there, and everybody saw it come together. Like Darvin said, I can truly say, she fed us, clothed us; I spent many a night over at her house. She was so like the mother of all of us, even though we all probably all older than her, which I’ll never get. She was just the big sister.
CP: When Buck and I were talking on the phone, he was saying that.
Buck: I have a vivid memory of when [Swift and I] first met at Twilight. I used to call the radio station all the time, anybody in Baltimore would automatically think I worked for the station because I call so much. And she was always the one that would answer the phone. So it got to a point that she knew my voice. So once I called her, she was like, “Is that you, Buck? Hold on.” And then when we finally met her at the Twilight Zone, she was already on there, and I stood up on the booth, and she was like, “You Buck Shot?” “Yeah yeah yeah.” “I’m Swift, what’s goin’ on.” And it went from there.
CP: Was there anyone doing street teams or that organized with the club music parties before her?
Pork Chop: No, no, no. The only people that was really doin’ street teams were, I guess I’d have to say, Konan and the older cats that had it goin’ on. As far as our age group, I mean back then, we ran the 17-and-over, 18-and-over, 21-and-over bracket. So nobody could even come close unless it was Club Queen Entertainment.
Crystal: Darvin, Say Wut, and me basically ran her street team. And the way that we did it, we would recruit high school kids to work for us, and they would get in for free. So they thought that was the coolest thing, to be on Swift’s list.
Pork Chop: And Darvin can vouch for this. When it was just us, when it was us five, you try goin’ to four different high schools, everybody got outta school the same time. So through that week of the party, we would do Edmondson, Carver and Walbrook, then do Mervo, City College, and, y’know, try to go to every school, oh God.
Crystal: We tried that at first, and that didn’t work.
CP: So was it years of laying out that groundwork and figuring out the strategy?
Darvin: I’m not really tryin’ to take credit for the idea, but I was like, “I think we should do this like this, y’know.” So the only thing me, Crystal. and Say Wut gotta do, just drop [the students they'd enlisted] off, and go to the leftover schools that was left.
Pork Chop: And all they wanted to do, like Crystal said, was get in the party for free.
Crystal: Yup! And they worked harder than anybody! [laughs] And I know, aside from workin’ promotions for her, she taught me, as far as how to book clubs, what you need to ask for. She taught me a lot about the money side, because I was workin’ her door, I got to see the behind the scenes of what really goes on with that aspect of ownin’ an entertainment company. And that helped me and Say Wut create Horsemen Entertainment, which if it wasn’t for her, we wouldn’t know the first thing about this industry. We tried to follow her example, and it’s workin’ pretty well.
Say Wut: Right. When I started with her, I was just comin’ to all her parties with Pork Chop, Big L, Lucky, her, Big Tony, that was a real strong team. I was like, “Wow, that’s something I would like to do one day.” So when I started my company, I tried to build my DJ team like their team was, because there was nothin’ touchin’ them at all.
Pork Chop: One of the biggest things we learned was the teamwork. Before Swift, we all was cool, and we all knew each other, everybody knew each other. But Club Queen Entertainment brought together that strong front, that everybody can work together, we all could do this, and we all gon’ get paid for it.
Darvin: She grabbed some of the best, not takin’ away from a lot of people, but we were some of the best that handled that crowd, as far as 17-and-over, 18-and-over, 21-and-over.
Pork Chop: Nah, we were the best! [laughs]
Darvin: I don’t wanna knock nobody!
Crystal: She was a businesswoman, she knew to grab the best.
Pork Chop: In our age bracket, what we was doin’, nobody was there to touch us. And I think people in the city would know, you can’t mess with us. If we threw a party at the ‘Dox, and it was 17-and-over, we gon’ crush ‘em. That’s what we did.
Lady Pitbull: That was part of her brilliance, though. Because she took her core people, and out of that core people, you’ve got all these different people who had the brilliance to start their own companies. I knew Swift, but I came in through Darvin, and you got this person who came in through this person. But she had her core people, and those people had other people that they brought in. She was at the top, and she just had different branches of the group.
Darvin: She didn’t even need the help, she just basically did us a favor, gave me and Crystal some work, we learned about some money, because she was already runnin’ things.
Lady Pitbull: It was just like one day, she put a mic in my hand, and I was like “OK, thank you.”
Darvin: If she mentioned it on the radio, the party would be packed, she didn’t even need us.
Pork Chop: I will say that Swift was probably the kindest person I ever met. As far as her kindness goes, she opened her doors and her arms to any of us. I miss her like every day. It’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think that she won’t come to the radio station. I didn’t erase her number from my phone yet. And I got three numbers in here, one that say “K-Swift,” one that say “Stupid,” and one that say “Swift.” [laughs] I can’t erase ‘em, and I still call ‘em just to hear the voice mail, “You can reach K-Swift.” It kills me to this day. It’s gonna be hard to move on without her.
Say Wut: That’s kinda how I feel like. When I started, I was a kid in the club. The only voice I had was through my music, through Big L. So me, Big L, and Pork, we became friends. I’d give the tracks to Big L and he would play ‘em. And that’s when Swift came to me, like, “Hey, you need to be givin’ me some of this music, too.” So I started givin’ her the music, and then, because she had the power of the radio, she would give me these shout-outs and things like that, and I was like, “Wow, she didn’t even have to do that.” I was honored. She made my music heard in places that it ain’t never been heard before. And later in life she came to me, tellin’ me, “Hey, you got a fan base here, you got a fan base there, you doin’ some big things.” And if it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t now be under Unruly, and I got music played overseas. That was unreal to me, bein’ a little dude in the club and dancin’. She inspired all of us to do what we did then, and to go after more. Everyone here has accomplished things through the power of workin’ under her and learnin’ from her. And now everyone has their own company or has just expanded. From east to west Baltimore, you really can’t mention anybody’s name in this whole entire room, and somebody not know who you are. That’s big, especially from not ever havin’ a voice of anything, and you have a talent. Everybody in this room has a talent, whether you DJin’, handlin’ money, handlin’ business, the voice, MCin’. She let us express ourselves, and then told us, “Hey, you have to go after more.” She would call me personally, like, “Hey, what are you plannin’ on doin’, this and that?” I was like, “I dunno, I’m still makin’ tracks.” That’s when she started doin’ the whole Next Level thing, and I started producin’ for her artists on that–that gave me an even bigger voice. So not only did she open up doors, but she made sure we didn’t stop.
Pork Chop: It’s almost funny. She got us to the point where we all need to be, and then God took her, like that’s all she can do. Even with the rappers she brought up, like Young Leek, A-Ma-Zon, even Deuce Tre Deuce, it’s so many people that that girl done things for, she gave them the push. She gave everybody it, like, “Here, and then you gotta do what you gotta do after that.” His company, his company, our company, we all reflect Club Queen Entertainment. No matter what we do, it’s embedded and everybody know that, it started with her.
CP: Yeah, it seems like so many club producers got their start or got such a big boost just from her liking their records and playing them.
Say Wut: Look at Blaqstarr. Blaqstarr is huge. I talked to him, it was me and him at the Unruly party, we were mixin’ with her, we were just talkin’, and a couple days later she wasn’t here.
Pork Chop: That was Friday.
CP: Yeah, and I was at the Artscape set she did with Buck that Saturday.
Darvin: I talked to her that Saturday afternoon.
Lady Pitbull: I think that’s the hardest part. This is kind of like an intimacy thing, it’s like a family, it feels right now like she should be here.
Pork Chop: She’s here, she’s here.
Darvin: The 92Q thing, basically what I’m tryin’ to say. I’m not real attention-starved, I’m not the one to be like, “Oh, I was her close friend,” this, that, the other.
Pork Chop: We could go on for days talkin’ about how the girl died and how messed up that is.
Crystal: How did she live, what was her impact, that’s what other people don’t know about.
Say Wut: Everybody in here, she taught us how to be humble. I mean, I was makin’ tracks for years before anybody every heard of Say Wut or NSW. I was just so pleased that I even got in the club. And to be heard was even more. And I rode that, I didn’t need no money, I didn’t need none of that. She came to me, “You need to do this, this, and this. Now is your next step.” And I waited for that. A lot of these people who try to start these companies or these DJs or whatever they think everything is supposed to be handed to ‘em. Everybody sat back. We had our bickerings growing up in her company, like, “Why can’t I get this?” And Swift was like, “You’ll get your turn, you’ll get your chance.”
DJ Big Nasty: That comes as part of bein’ a family. All of us, y’know, played different roles. In my case, I played two different roles for her, because when the first team disbanded, I became one of the initial members of the second team startin’ off, that was the real birth of DJ Big Nasty. As far as bein’ a family, we all had differences and squabbles and all that stuff.
Darvin: It made me feel real good about it that I got a chance to tell her, “If it wasn’t for you, there would never be no MVP or Tru Goodfellas Entertainment.” That made me feel so good, because she knew that before she went. I had absolutely no other outlet. I didn’t know I would do this, like I said, I was workin’ a job, paycheck to paycheck. With her I had plenty of chances to make thousands of dollars.
Pork Chop: I remember our first party that she did for me and Buck and gave us some of the door. That was Memorial Day, our birthday party down at Tunnel, I still got the flier down at the house that I designed. She was like, “You design the flier, we gon’ do the party, set it up, and we gon’ split the door.” And when I saw how much money I got that night, I was like, damn. All our birthdays, Easters, we’d just shut ‘em down.
Lady Pitbull: No matter how much was in it, everybody always got an envelope.
Pork Chop: I done seen Swift walk away with, like, I think the least I ever saw her walk away with was $80, for her party, and everybody else got paid. But what’s funny, I’ve also seen Swift look like she wasn’t gonna be able to pay everybody, and we was like, “Don’t worry about it.”
CP: You hear so many situations where someone starts a company, and then doesn’t trickle the money down to anyone else.
Pork Chop: Hell, nah. Sometimes it’d be like, “Oh well, guess we gon’ get something to eat with this $20.” And we’d just keep going, and next week the party was packed. She remembers that, that we got paid the $20 last week, and in this envelope, you got the big $200-$300, and you happy. And I speak [for] everybody in this room, we had genuine love for the girl. The love I had for her, I don’t look at it as a friend, I look at it as a real true sister, that’s my sister. God didn’t put us all together for nothin’. This didn’t happen by chance. This was supposed to go down.
CP: So is the Club Queen Entertainment name gonna carry on?
Pork Chop: Always. I been doin’ it for eight years.
CP: Have you even been able to think about what the future is gonna be without her?
Darvin: It ain’t gon’ be the same.
Say Wut: Right now everything is crazy. Everything is crazy, you got people thinkin’ they can replace her, they don’t know what’s gonna happen. The truth of the matter, life does have to go on. Truth of the matter, Club Queen Entertainment has to live forever, because the kids that didn’t get a chance, that are now 5 years old, 10 years old, that’ll be 15-17 in the future, won’t ever get to hear her play, won’t ever get to hear her talk. And they need to understand why everybody else is doin’ this. Swift was a sister to me, too, but more of a mentor. Me and Crystal got together and started our company. And all the sudden, she was like, “Hey, we gon’ have to do a party together.” I’m like, “Wow, I used to work for you, now I’m workin’ with you.” This is crazy to me, this is one of the strong people who molded who your character is. It’s so funny, because she’s also like a big sister, so a problem with a club owner or a problem with this person, she would call me right back and say the same thing, “I’m havin’ issues,” I’m givin’ her advice, this is so crazy. “Man, Pork gettin’ on my nerves.” [laughs] That’s the bond we had, professionally and as a friend.
Crystal: Swift taught everybody in this room their worth, their value. A lot of people in this city, what I’ve noticed, they try to undercut themselves, or really undercut everybody else, because they’re goin’ to these clubs, chargin’ $150 for the whole night, to DJ a five-hour event, just so they can keep gettin’ a lot of different gigs. But what they don’t realize is that all the DJs to follow, they’re undercuttin’ their value. And Swift taught everybody their value. Don’t settle for anything. Don’t try to cut yourself, because in the long run, you gonna end up messin’ yourself up.
Say Wut: That’s the real rat race in entertainment, in throwin’ parties right now. It’s a rat race with people chargin’ real inexpensive prices for their work, for DJin’, you’re messin’ it up for everybody else that’s workin’ hard, is number one. Number two, you’re cuttin’ your own self short. And it goes the same way with some of the MCs. I’ve seen some of the people MC parties drunk. I understand we’re in the atmosphere where we partyin’, we drunk, but I mean straight f’ed up. And that trickles down through your whole party, and then no one wants to come back to your party. And I’ve had to deal with those kind of people, too, myself, under my own company. It’s so cool, because now, we’re all so busy, we have our own businesses. Big Nasty, MVP, they too busy to come to my party because they got their own thing. It’s messed up, because the relationships become spread out, but it’s such a good thing, because everybody’s name is gettin’ uplifted. It was the same way when I threw my birthday party last year, and Swift came to my party, that was big to me. She came to support, that was big to me.
Crystal: She took off that night, she didn’t book anything, she didn’t throw any parties, she just said, “I really wanna just come as a guest to his party.” Wow! She never has time!
Darvin: For her to do things like that, that’s like, wow. Normally, she would not put a gig aside, that’s someone she has a lot of love for her. Money’s always first with her, so for her to do something like that, wow.
Lady Pitbull: Once you in her family, you always in her family. I’m not even in entertainment no more, but I will always be the Pitbull, I will always be a part of this family right here.
Buck Jones: She had a moment when we was doin’ the Tunnel, every week she would say to me, “Make sure you pump my name up,” because a lot of people would have this impression that she wasn’t mixin’, that she didn’t make the party like it was. So I would just, on and on, “K-Swift on the one and twos,” “K-Swift on the mic,” and they’ll look up like, OK, that’s Swift. Then it got to whereas though like everybody was like, OK, now we know who she is. Like when I said at the Twilight, I used to kinda hate that, they’d come up to me like, “Yeah, what’s up, Swift?” “Nah, she in the booth, that’s Swift.”
Crystal: That’s because they presume that she’d be a man.
Lady Pitbull: A female in the entertainment business just gets looked over. Any of the guys in this group right now could get more attention and more play than if me or Crystal was doin’ the same thing and maybe better.
Pork Chop: What’s funny is, I guarantee you, by the end of this year–well, probably startin’ next week–people are gonna try to start gettin’ rich off the girl. Somethin’ is missing in this city, and now all these little parties, all these holidays gettin’ ready to come up. Everybody’s gonna be like, “Who is gonna do the 17-and-over parties? Well, we got somethin’ for everybody.” I heard somebody threw a party and put her name on it, and I’m like, well, “Y’all gonna give that girl’s mother some of the money? Don’t just put her name on it and not give her nothin’.” We got together the night that she passed away, went to every club and threw a party, and her mother got every red cent of that party.
Lady Pitbull: We will honor her name. You have people that will defame her name with the things that they’re doin’. Most of these people didn’t even know her.
Pork Chop: Didn’t like her, talked about her.
Say Wut: People that didn’t know her from being “big” Swift.
Pork Chop: Cheese-fry Swift.
Say Wut: Before she lost her weight.
DJ Lucky: She was the biggest girl in the school, she didn’t care. She’ll walk in the party, she’ll walk in the café, she’ll eat in front of you.
Say Wut: It’s so crazy, because we still gotta work at the end of the day. I still gotta do a party this upcoming Friday and not necessarily put on a front, but that’s what it is. I gotta work, I gotta do the party. But deep down in my heart, somethin’ ain’t right.
Pork Chop: I haven’t even mourned her yet because I’m so pissed about how she died. It took me for her mother to call me the day after her funeral to tell me I could stop blamin’ myself. ‘Cause to this day I think if I was at the house, that wouldn’t have happened.
Darvin: If any of us was at her house, we would either been in the pool with her, or it never would’ve happened.
Say Wut: All those times workin’ with Swift, she’d be so stressed out, unless Fun was in the building.
Pork Chop: We had this guy named Fun that we all made up. Fun was of course what it is, but we made him a person. So we’ll go down to the club, we’ll see the line, like, “Oh! Fun puttin’ his clothes on, Fun gon’ be there!” And that’s how it was every night! And then there’d be a bullshit night with like a hundred people, we were like, “Fun must’ve overslept and didn’t get the text message, Fun ain’t here.”
Lady Pitbull: Fun was always at Easter, and at her birthday party.
Pork Chop: Fun was always at Easter. We already got a plan for Easter. Anything I do that got somethin’ to do with Swift, part of that money is goin’ to her mother. We’re doin’ a 17-and-over party for Swift for her birthday, because that group of people never got to party for her and never said goodbye right. And since we real into the party, we do parties, but it never been 17-and-over yet, and they never got a chance to mourn yet. So for her birthday, we’re doin’ a 17-and-over party. We gon’ do it right with all the money, like ain’t none of us gettin’ paid, that’s how it is. It don’t belong to us, it belong to her mother, and to her family, so we gon’ do that. I did a Breakfast Flakes song for Swift, so at Stone Soul Picnic, we sellin’ the Flakes CD, and we splittin’ it with Swift. So everybody gettin’ their cut, and Swift gettin’ a cut, and givin’ that right to her mother. That CD, that’s goin’ to her too. There’s nothing I can do that got somethin’ to do with her that her mother ain’t gettin’ nothin’ off of. If it got somethin’ to do with Club Queen Entertainment, she gettin’ paid like she supposed to.
Say Wut: And the one thing I know, if she needed us, we would never ask, “What’s the money look like?” Because if the money was good, we would be good, if it was bad, we ain’t get shit. That’s how it was, and we did not care, because we were doin’ it for her.
Pork Chop: Ain’t nothin’ like chillin’. At her apartment in Randallstown, Darvin know, we’ll be out there, just laughin’, and I remember we taught her how to play spades. I was director of her record pool, and she used to do marketing, too, with Tracy Smith, and we had, when The Wire first started, the first season, we had the account for The Wire, and we had all The Wire hats, Wire things, they gave us a wrapped van. One day Swift woke up and said, “Wanna go to Atlantic City in the van?” All of us get in the van. Man, she a genius in Atlantic City.
Crystal: Swift was a gambler!
Pork Chop: She could go there back to back weekends, come back with $24,000, $18,000, killin’ it.
Crystal: We would never go, every time they invited us they’d spend too much money. I had it. They would go spend thousands. I can’t do it.
DJ Lucky: I went with her to Dover Downs, she spent at least $5,000 in about 15 minutes. We were like, “We gotta leave now.” Then she spent another $2m999, and hit about 15.
Say Wut: They’d be like, “We about to go to Atlantic City, you wanna go?” I’d be like, “Do you remember what you just put in my envelope?”
Pork Chop: I’m tellin’ you, once the money is counted, she’d give you a look like, “Let’s hit the road.” Swift, honestly, she loved everybody, even people that hated on her, she loved ‘em, ’cause ain’t nothin’ else you can do but love the haters, gotta love ‘em. I miss her to death, I mean I miss her every day. I think about her more than I think about my mother, and my mother died right a month before Swift died.
Darvin: I can’t even listen to club music no more without sheddin’ a tear or somethin’ like that. Like last night at my birthday party, when the DJ’s playin’ all this music that she used to play, we were sittin’ there like, “Damn.”
Pork Chop: I can’t listen to not one K-Swift intro. Friday at Iguana’s, and Frank Ski came through and all that, I mean, I’m standin’ in the booth, everybody could see me, I cried all night long.
Buck Jones: When Big L went on that Wednesday, he made me cry. I cried that whole mix, the whole mix I cried. The rain and the lightning, the big thunder was Swift bangin’ another hit. My memory that I can actually give to her is a funny one. But it’s like, I was tellin’ myself, I couldn’t do it [now], because it would make you feel hurt. But I started learnin’ how to do her voice. And a lot of people in the club would look around like, “Where she at, where she at?” And all I would just say is [impersonating K-Swift's voice]: “Yeah yeah, yeah yeah.” And they look like, “Where she at?”
Say Wut: First time he did that, he got my ass. [laughs]
Pork Chop: One of my favorite moments with Swift was another funny one. We was at Mervo passin’ out them fliers, and she tried to act like she was gonna grab my crotch, and I pushed her. She was teeterin’ on her foot and rolled over, I swear to you. She rolled down that hill. [laughs] It’s just too much, man. She gave everything to us. Everything we wanted, it was there. Food at her house, “I can’t eat it, eat it up.” If you need a shirt, “I got a shirt.”
Say Wut: She was nice. She was sometimes too nice and would piss me off, because people be tryin’ to put one over on her. I’d be like, “What is wrong with you, Swift?” She’d be like, “That’s alright.”
DJ Lucky: I have walked into high schools with Mike Crosby, Kenny K, all different DJs, I have never walked into a high school gym and people go crazy like that. I’m like, this girl is about 300 pounds and she don’t care, she never cared about her weight, she never had a problem. She’ll come out in front of everybody, the whole auditorium go crazy, like it was Frank Ski or someone that had a long list of clout for a long time. This is when she was big, when she blew up her name. When she got small, she was already larger than life. When she blew up her name at UMBC, these colleges and these high schools, she was huge back then. That’s the thing I really respect.
Crystal: That means a lot, because in today’s society, it’s hard especially for a heavy female. For the perception of females, you’re supposed to be a toothpick to be a name in the industry, and she was the total opposite and she carried it the right way.