The Harlem-born, Bronx-rasied DJ of Dominican heritage talks about the hit song, legal hurdles and how Pitbull is adding his magic touch.
It’s lunchtime and DJ Kass is at home in Yonkers, N.Y. “We are good, we are good here and it’s quiet,” says the artist, whose real name is Luis Rosa, named after his father, a former DJ. “Nothing but snow right now.”
It may be cold outside, but Rosa is warm inside because his catchy ”Scooby Doo Pa Pa” track has become a global movement of its own, from twerking-obsessed videos to fitness fanatics who can’t get enough. As the track has earned top spots on the Billboard Latin charts and continues gaining traction, the newfound attention is not lost on Rosa.
As the beat-driven song reached nearly 600,000 YouTube hits on Monday (April 2), Rosa spoke to Billboard exclusively about why his official video, filmed in Manhattan, comes 6 months after the song’s debut. For the most part, he says, his image was mostly unseen as the song has gained the attention from all ages, from children to Zumba teachers. (A spokesperson for Zumba confirmed that there are no formal partnerships with the song or the artist, but that there may be instructors who use the song on their own during exercises classes).
So why did the DJ Kass official music video take so long? “There was an agreement between my label and the producer and as a result we could not release the [official] video because I did not have the right to use the track so we didn’t want to have a video that would get taken down [by YouTube],” Rosa, 30, explains. “I didn’t have the rights to the track.”
It’s evident that Rosa, who is signed to Groundwerk through Entertainment One, feels a sense of relief now that his official “Scooby Doo Pa Pa” video is out for the world to see, but the late debut comes after many others, including fitness personalities, have released their own versions of the track, which dropped in September of 2017.
Those videos have received millions of views, but none of that benefit Rosa. People “took advantage,” he says, but then, in another breath, returns to more favorable opinion. “I honestly feel very happy because I’m a guy from the Bronx and I didn’t have [more] experience [as an artist],” Rosa said. “Now I’m an artist and a DJ and I feel very happy with the success of ‘Scooby Doo Pa Pa.’ As for the video, I’m happy it’s finally out because now people know who DJ Kass is because before the video people did not know who I was.”
A DJ for 15 years and a recording artist for 2 years means that Rosa has been learning the music business through a different lens. He powers through with positive thoughts and lights up when the topic switches to the upcoming mid-April release of Pitbull’s remix of “Scooby Doo Pa Pa.”
“I’m going to be performing with Pitbull in Miami at an Alex Sensation concert,” Rosa says proudly, He teases, “I’ve got a lot of music that has yet to be heard. ‘Scooby Doo Pa Pa’ is about the beginning of my career and it has opened doors. I’m going to keep doing more music with other artists like Pitbull.”
He also wants to make a film someday. DJ Kass’ creative side emerges during the interview as he envisions a film that sounds autobiographical. It’s about a “kid from the Bronx who made it,” says Rosa, whose father played salsa, among other types of genres.
As DJ Kass’ “Scooby Doo Pa Pa” racks up views and inches toward the one million mark, an outtake at the end of the comedic-themed video can be easily missed, but it’s key. It shows Rosa declaring the song that’s now finally making him famous is not reggaeton. It’s “dembow,” he says.
“Reggaeton is slower, a bit sexier,” says Rosa, as he introduces a theme he wants the world to hear. “Dembow is much more fragile and the sounds are different. Dembow comes from Santo Domingo and it hasn’t become international and that’s why I’ve declared it’s not reggaeton.”
DJ Kass has arrived.