Earlier this year when Coachella released its lineup for 2019, a name stood out that surprised many: Idris Elba.
There was plenty of conjecture about what Stringer Bell was planning. Was he going to do some type of Hugh Jackman one-man show? Did he have a stand-up routine ready? In the end, it was far more exciting than either of those. Instead, the “Hobbs & Shaw” villain and entertainment star was a DJ for the masses of Indio.
It turns out that Elba is a veteran DJ who became an international movie star after spending years gigging around New York City and London.
DJ Big Driis
On another timeline, instead of associating Idris Elba with “The Wire” and fifty other acting roles, he’d probably be known solely for music. Elba started hitting the decks when he was 14-years-old, helping out with his uncle’s wedding DJ business in his native London. Back then, he went by Little Driis. By the time the ‘90s rolled around, Elba moved to New York City. He made ends meet by bouncing at bars and picking up DJ gigs where he could. His life changed when he landed the role of Stringer Bell on HBO’s acclaimed series, “The Wire.” But the opportunity only made him DJ more, later taking on the name Big Driis.
“Once ‘The Wire’ came in, I tried to DJ as much as I could,” he tells Rolling Stone. “My profile went up and the money went up along with it. It definitely fell second place to acting but then I got serious about it. I got myself an agent, a DJ manager, and it was like a second career, a side-hustle.”
When people think of celebrity DJs, their eyes inevitably roll. Fellow celebs like Shaquille O’Neal also moonlight as DJs. For both Shaq and Idris, DJing was something that came to them at an early age and became a second career they’ve been able to leverage through their status. Does that make booking gigs easier? Probably.
Still, when it comes to the DJing, it’s obvious that Elba can hold his own. His set at Elrow Town in London last year is a 60-minute tech house workout that not only showed impressive technical skills but also brought out droves to watch him spin. By all accounts, it was the same at Coachella this year.
— Alonee (@AnomalyGray) April 14, 2019
Man of Many Talents
Besides starring in “Hobbs & Shaw” and “Cats” later this year, Elba will stay busy DJing over in Ibiza through October. The actor also has a few other ventures that should keep him immersed in the music world.
In 2018 he launched his record label, 7Wallace, and also runs 2HR Set, a clothing label inspired by the culture of DJing. He also plans to release a rap album at some point. Elba appeared on the remix of Wiley’s hit song “Boasty” that has racked up over 65 million views on YouTube.
It’s not often an actor can star in a terrifying CGI version of “Cats” then turn around and rock a party in Ibiza. But then again, there aren’t many Idris Elbas.