Written by William Bryant Rozier
Houston, Texas native Brianna Burns (rap name “Lil Bri”) was a recent contestant on Jermaine Dupree’s reality TV show, The Rap Game Season 4, on the Lifetime network.
Fort Wayne-young man Elijah Zahir, DJ Black Code, age 14 (15 in July), approached her manager offering some of his beats for the 17-year-old rapper to use.
“She actually went into the studio that night and recorded a song [with my beat],” Zahir said. The track, officially produced by Zahir’s Tic Toc Productions, became her radio-played “Air It Out.” He’s produced more tracks for her and other artists featured on The Rap Game.
Zahir, a freshman in high school (he’s homeschooled), was making beats, “anything that sounded good,” he said, at the even more impressive age of 5. “Of course, my dad taught me the basics.”
His father, producer DJ Polaris (Ghani Zahir), got his son going, creating beats for other artists. “I picked it up really well, surprisingly,” Zahir said. “I used to come down here [to our home studio] by myself and make it happen.”
Zahir watched how-to videos when he wasn’t taking notes from his father. “He really didn’t really know it, but I was learning from him.”
His first paid deejay gig came at age 9, a hip-hop event at Freimann Square downtown. He’s done graduation parties, birthday parties, family reunions, and pool parties mostly for kids. He’s also done school dances, basketball games, and charity events.
Black Code has deejay-ed for local artist and singer Fatima Washington; she performs for grown folks. It was definitely a good learning experience, being able to showcase my talent,” Zahir said. “My dad always says you’re always auditioning for the next job.”
In their home studio, the father and son sit together in the studio for listening sessions. The collection of vinyl records takes up a wall. “It’s a benefit to have all of that music at my disposal. I have access to everything anytime I want.”
Zahir has access to his father’s equipment, another benefit. When DJ Polaris bought a beat machine, he said, “my son’s going to use that.”
It’s no wonder they share a similar musical style: Hip-Hop, Rhythm and Blues, Neo-Soul like Jill Scott and Erykah Badu. Zahir prefers hip-hop artists J Dilla and A Tribe Called Quest.
The father and son compare notes on their own tracks. But Zahir does have peers his own age, or at least close to it, like 18-year-old Nasir Billups, 17-year-old Wisdom Billups (Nasir’s cousin), 15-year-old Ib Mattic from Newark, New Jersey, and 13-year-old gennaio [sic].
When Zahir starts a program, “I will start out with a simple melody, and then will add drums, other percussions. Once I have the basic foundation, I will mix it then arrange it.” He sends it to other artists but will listen to the track through every platform, be it Bluetooth and car speakers, through his phone.
Zahir’s album, “Project X,” is available now on most digital download platforms, like iTunes and Spotify.
The young man, with many interests like playing 6 positions on the baseball field, also directs and edits music videos for his recording friends. “I’m glad to be creative.”
Elijah Zahir (DJ Black Code), email@example.com, 260.206.9371
I run Scrambled Egg(s) Design and Productions, based out of Northeast Indiana. In addition to producing in-house company projects, I also create advertising materials for companies and organizations, with an emphasis on interactivity.