Beverly Bond was born to DJ. Though her looks propelled her down fashion runways, it was music that set her heart flying. "Eventually the music chose me and I had to become a DJ," Bond told Contemporary Black Biography (CBB). Since setting up her turntables in 2000, Bond has captivated jet-setters, style-breakers, and baggy-panted beat makers with her ingenious mixes. "People call me a hip-hop DJ, but really I play a lot more than that," she told CBB. Whether playing for thousands at a televised awards ceremony, or scratching out a more intimate vibe at a New York club, Bond's goal as a DJ and producer is simple. "I want to take the crowd on a journey when I DJ and not lose sight of what great music really is," she told CBB.
Became Model Record Collector
Beverly Bond was born on December 19, 1970, in New York City, though she was raised all over Maryland by her mother Mary Burroughs. "My mom was something of a rolling stone, she liked to move around," Bond told CBB. "So sometimes I lived with her, sometimes with other relatives." Throughout the moves, one thing stayed constant—music. "My mom really influenced me because she loved music," Bond told CBB. "She collected albums and was always really informed about music of all types, from Kurtis Blow to Hugh Masekela to Gladys Knight. She loved soul, African music, world music. She tried to really educate me on music."
Bond picked up her mother's habits and started collecting her own albums as a child. Soon it became an obsession. "For hip-hop [vinyl], you gotta get your old-school hip-hop, for soul you gotta go diggin' through every little record shop you can find, little mom-and-pop stores, thrift shops," she explained to the Village Voice. By the time she moved to New York, Bond had amassed hundreds of albums. "Everybody that came to my house thought I was a DJ cause they would see my record collection is crazy," Bond told the on-line hip-hop magazine, SOHH.
Despite her passion for music, Bond told CBB, "I didn't want to DJ because I thought it was such a huge responsibility, to keep all the people dancing, satisfied, and to keep the music interesting." Instead, at the age of 17 Bond moved to New York to pursue modeling. Her lithe, five-foot-nine frame and honeyed complexion landed her contracts at Elite New Faces and Wilhemina. She was soon strutting down runways and posing for clients such as Diesel Jeans, Guess, and Nike. Like a lot of New York models she was also a regular on the club scene; unlike most she was not there to be seen. "My mom loved to dance and was known as a dancer. I caught a lot of that too," Bond explained to CBB. "When I was modeling I'd go out at night dressed down in baggy pants and tennis shoes, real comfortable, and just dance. I was right out there battling with the guys on the dance floor."
Dug Deep to Find DJ Dreams
As Bond's modeling career blossomed, so did her record collection. Eventually she bought a professional set of turntables. It was an ear-opening move. "The reason I bought my turntables wasn't cause I wanted to be a DJ; it was because my regular record player broke down and I couldn't play my vinyl," she told SOHH. "When I bought [them] and started practicing I was like, 'I'm kinda nice.'" All her nights spent dancing had given Bond an ear for what sounded good. "I was like a club head, the person who the DJ played for," Bond told Village Voice, "so it was kinda easy for me to absorb what they did, and taking it to finding my own flow."
Still not ready to step up to the decks, Bond did like many models and turned to the stage. She enrolled in an acting academy where one of her classes focused on the Meisner Technique. "The essence of that program was to be true to yourself, to find the truth of yourself by digging deep," Bond told CBB. By the time she graduated in 1999, Bond had become a good actress and her classmates assumed she was destined for Hollywood. "But by that time, I had found the truth," she told CBB. "I wanted to be a DJ."
In 2000, Bond became DJ Beverly Bond and started lugging crates of records down from her fifth-story walk-up to play small gigs around the city. Her style was a throwback to the varied sounds her mom played for her as a child—from old school hip-hop, soul, and funk to African drummers, Brazilian grooves, and classic jazz. "I know that I have set myself apart from girls who are models, who are trying to be DJs and trying to be trendy," Bond told Village Voice. "I like to surprise people. I changed the game in a way."
Spun Records to Fame and Respect
Within a year of her debut, Bond became one of New York's most sought-after DJs. Her music resonated with a club culture famous for its finicky pursuit of the hottest and hippest. Bond landed on the A-list, performing for high-flying clients like Sean Combs, Prince, and Kimora Simmons. Soon she was playing big gigs such as the VH1 Fashion Awards, the ESPN X-Games, the New York Planet Hollywood opening, Playboy parties, and D'Angelo's Voodoo album release party. "I guess my commercial appeal happens because of the whole modeling thing," she told SOHH. "I guess that's where people would wanna automatically see me."
Bond found more success in her two years as a DJ than she had in nearly a decade as a model. "I stopped modeling because when I started DJ-ing, my career started blowing up as a DJ," she told SOHH. "As I became more famous for what I did it didn't make any sense for me to continue to go on my castings." Though off the runway, Bond still made appearances at fashion events, spinning for clients like Chanel, Hugo Boss, and Diesel. Known for her six-inch high afro and funky mix of street wear and haute style, Bond was named one of "New York's Most Fashionable Females" by the New York Daily News.
Cynics ready to dismiss Bond's sudden fame as hype were silenced in 2002 when she was named the Best Female DJ at the Justo Mixtape Awards—a recognition that is considered one of the most credible evaluations of a hip-hop DJ's skills. Mixtapes are actually CDs that serve as a DJ's aural press kit. Songs from other artists are sampled, mixed, and re-mixed to express the DJ's unique vision. "I was so shocked when I was nominated," Bond told CBB. "I felt like I had just started out and I didn't know that there were that many people aware of me."
Poised to Produce Own Beats
In just a few years as a DJ, Bond had become a celebrity. She spun on television shows including BET's Rap City and 106 & Park, and MTV's Total Request Live and Direct Effect. She also co-hosted an episode of NBC's Weekend Vibe. On the road, she made worldwide DJ appearances with The Roots, Floetry, Musiq SoulChild, and Erykah Badu. She was also the official DJ for the Courvoisier tour and was the celebrity DJ for Eileen Ford's Super Model of the World contest in Puerto Rico. Village Voice named Bond a "Clubland MVP," Honey Magazine called her one of the "Hot 100 People to Watch," and Vibe Magazine tagged her a "Future Urban Icon."
At a Glance …
Born on December 19, 1970, in New York, NY; married Bazaar Royale, November 29, 2004.
Career: Elite New Faces, Wilhelmina, New York, NY, model, mid-1990s; disc jockey, New York, NY, 2000-.
Awards: Justo Mixed Tape Awards, Best Female DJ, 2002.
Addresses: Agent—dGi. Management, 9 Desbrosses St., 2nd floor, New York, NY 10013.
Not content to just play music, Bond turned to producing it. In addition to the collection that pulled down her Justo award, Bond put out Word Iz Bond, a highly acclaimed 34-track CD which featured remixes of 50 Cent's "Many Men" and Nas's "One Mic." Bond was also the music director for Comedy Central's Comic Groove. She later teamed with Grammy winner Alicia Keys to produce an exclusive track for Baby Phat Fashions. Despite her skill at the mixing boards, Bond has had to confront sexism as a producer. "What I do find is that it's very difficult for females as far as people believing that you actually made your beats," she told SOHH. "A lot of times it's almost like people think that somebody else co-did it for you or that you just took some sample that nobody else happens to have and all it is, is a sample."
By 2005, Bond was on her way to becoming as renowned a producer as she was a DJ. She had an album in the works and was collaborating with several musicians to produce tracks and mixtapes. She told SOHH, "I really expect to be a serious contender as a producer." She was also keeping her finger on the vinyl with DJ gigs, both high and low brow. "It's natural for me to…spin at a little underground spot…as it is for me to do Chanel or the VHI Awards," she told SOHH. There was no shortage of venues looking to book her. As she told CBB, "My career is exploding. Check back with me in a year, I'll have a lot more to say by then."
"Ladies First Female DJs Got a Foot Through the Door, Ain't Goin' Nowhere," Village Voice, www.villagevoice.com/news/0129,cepeda,26472,1.html (May 15, 2005).
"Model/DJ Beverly Bond Dances To Her Own Beat, Now She Sells Them!" SOHH, www.sohh.com/thewire/read.php?contentID=6801 (May 15, 2005).
Additional information for this profile was obtained through an interview with Beverly Bond on June 26, 2005.