By Dylan Deprey
Hours before the Marquette Golden Eagles hit the Fiserv Forum, Zachary Strayhorn walks into the state-of-the art facility like one of the team. Security knows his name, he eats with the crew and he sets up smack dab on the court in front of the student section.
He sets up his equipment and plays some light music for players to warm up. As fans roll in, Strayhorn’s calm demeanor begins to transform into his true persona, DJ SnackDaddy. He considers himself the Allen Iverson behind turntables and claims all he needs is a 15-minute set. He controls the party, and he wouldn’t want it any other way.
His dream of mastering the turntables began after he saw his friend’s cousin DJ at a neighborhood party when he was younger.
“She said he came up from Chicago, and he had all these records,” Strayhorn said. “When I first saw him, I knew that’s what I wanted to do.”
After high school, one of his brother’s girlfriends donated him a laptop. He downloaded the software and practiced. He bought a controller and slowly added other gear. He watched hours of YouTube videos, studying DJ Jazzy Jeff and DJ Scratch. While perfecting his craft, he already had the perfect name.
Strayhorn always kept a snack bucket in his truck while testing lawn mower engines at Briggs and Stratton.
“One night my brothers were giving him a hard time and eventually called me snack daddy, and it stuck,” Strayhorn said. “Even people in high school were calling me it, so I ran with it.”
Before finding steady DJ work, he had on and off jobs while working gigs. At one point, he racked up 13 W2’s in one year.
“When they first have you start a job, they’re always trying to have you work weekends. I was like ‘I’ll work any hours, as long as you let me out by Friday before 7 p.m. to let me do my thing.’” Strayhorn said. “I’d come into work Friday, be back to work Monday and I’d be fired.”
After linking up with local rapper B Justice, he started working as a professional DJ. While doing local shows on and off, he was living with a friend who worked security at a local club. He had his buddy pull some strings.
“I did the first night free, and after that they were booking me ever since,” Strayhorn said.
Along with doing his thing in clubs and private parties, he would also give back to his community by performing free gigs at schools and local events. He has DJ’d for many local rappers and had the chance to bless the Summerfest stage, opening for Ludacris, Common and T-Pain.
While working the club scene, a good friend who emceed for Marquette reached out to him about an opportunity to be their official DJ.
“She sent me the application and was like, ‘you need to do this,’ because we used to turn the club up together,” Strayhorn said.
He filled out the paper application and contemplated after submitting it. He could show his skills better than writing them out, so he went above and beyond and did a video application for them.
“I made my own intro, my own outro and I showed them I was excited and ready to do this.”
He did an in-person interview, a 15-minute set and DJ SnackDaddy scored the spot.
“I knew when I was working those jobs, they were temporary because I knew I’d be great. I believed in myself,” Strayhorn said.
While he soaks up his first season as Marquette’s Official DJ, he continues to work harder and dream bigger.
“Being on the Marquette stage is just one step, once I’m booked overseas in places like Dubai, then I’ll know I’ve made it,” Strayhorn said.
Check out DJ SnackDaddy on social media at https://www.facebook.com/DJSnackDaddy/