DJ QBert: Putting in the Work to be the Best

A Filipino American story as told by World Champion DJ & Turntablist, DJ QBert.

“My parents taught me to trust in the universe but to also put the work in. From my dad, I learned discipline. He was very strict who did not tolerate any mistakes. He taught me about consequences; if I do this, then this is what’s gonna happen. From my mom, I learned that whatever you can see, you can achieve. She was the queen of recruiting for Mary Kay Cosmetics—a Filipino woman holding the top rank in the whole United States for four years! That had a profound effect on me.

So I thought, I had to follow my dreams or die. I didn’t like to do anything but scratch, make music, and DJ. I began entering DJ battles and losing, but I was positive. I chose to practice to hone my skills and be ready when it’s time for the next battle.

When the DMC Competition came to San Francisco for the first time, all my practice paid off, and I won! I won the West Coast battles and then the US title! I represented the United States in the DMC world finals. When I made it to the Top 12, I thought I didn’t need to practice; I was sure I was going to win this world battle. I didn’t. I took second place.

Just like what my father had tried to teach me, when you stop working hard, everything falls apart. That was my biggest mistake right there. So I went back to practicing every day. And I won the year after that, and the year after that.

Life is nature; there are ups and downs. When there’s an “up time,” you’re flowing, you’re having a good time with your art. When it’s a “down time,” it’s like having a mind block, and it’s time to work on technique. Being a musician means you never stop being in a creative process. You’re here as a servant to make everyone happy, and that is a proud and honorable thing. You can’t be doing it for yourself saying, I’m the f-ing man! It’s not like that! It’s about giving. It’s not about money. I believe in karma. All you got to do is give, and it comes back to you. People should know that they also have the power to use their talents to make others happy. Anything is possible.”

About: Filipino American Disruptors is a month-long storytelling initiative powered by NextDayBetter x AARP AAPI Community celebrating the stories of Filipino Americans in a range of disciplines from community activism to tech entrepreneurship. These forward-thinking individuals are trendsetters, trailblazers, and problem-solvers in their respective fields, helping to push America and the Filipino American community forward through their leadership, creativity, and innovation.

NextDayBetter Storyteller: Candice Quimpo