Growing up as a young, black man in St. Louis, MO is a feat many men cannot say they have conquered. The odds are against them from birth and the environments most are born into are not cohesive to success or longevity. Many young men are killed before their adult lives even begin. Radio personality and community leader DSmoovee Shabazz is living proof that not only can black men survive there, but they can win.
“There are other young, black men who are lost in this world who really need a chance to see a positive black, male role model in our community,” DSmoovee said. “I take it upon myself to be that.”
Four years ago, DSmoovee was working a nine to five and doing well for himself. But he had a desire to break into the entertainment industry as a radio host and turn his gift to serve his community. After finding it difficult to garner an opportunity with the FM radio affiliates in the market, DSmoovee ventured into the nightlife world; hosting events and parties at some of the hottest venues and strip clubs surrounding St. Louis.
However, club hosting was never his long term ambition and didn’t provide him with the resources to tap into helping the community in his city.
“You cannot have success without community and you cannot have community without people,” he said.
Dsmoovee had begun to grow weary and frustrated with the local club scene when an opportunity presented itself that would change the trajectory of his career path. And when Streetz 105.1, a new, black-owned, online radio station, offered him a show hosting role, he gladly accepted.
Currently, DSmoovee’s show Voice of The Streets is one of the station’s most popular shows and it lives up to its name by providing a voice to those in the community creating businesses, providing accessible resources, and taking the initiative to create avenues of wealth and success for the black community. Every time he’s live on-air, DSmoovee’s mission is to use his platform to show listeners the world through his eyes while connecting them with individuals who can help them achieve their goals.
“A lot of people say St. Louis doesn’t have the same outlets the major cities have, but we have all the resources…we have that kind of information,” DSmoovee said.
Outside of the station, DSmoovee continues to give back to his community through his efforts with the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis and through a mentorship program he created for at-risk youth seeking to build life skills. At his core, DSmoovee’s goal is to impact people that look like him and ensure they have the resources to succeed.
“Without people, I am nothing,” he said. “Without people, I am not servicing the streets that I live on and the streets that I walk through. And I cannot stand to see people who look like me suffering from things I can help.”
Despite his rise over the past four years, DSmoovee’s story has not blossomed without sorrow. After being the 24-7 caregiver for his mother, he lost her to cancer in 2018. For a short time, it appeared she had beaten the disease. She’d beat breast cancer and showed some signs of improvement. But cancer returned.
“It came back in her head, her back and her legs and the cancer, it literally ate her,” he said. “It just took her away.”
DSmoovee cared for his mother until she passed only to lose his grandmother a few years later.
“Those two losses I’ve had the past two years has been the toughest thing I’ve had to deal with in my life but, in that same breath, those two losses have made me the man I am today,” he said.
After the death of his mother, DSmoovee went into a dark depression that lasted for months. He wouldn’t leave his bedside and had a period of isolation. But he did not want to admit he was struggling mentally and emotionally.
“As a black man, I didn’t know how to deal with mental illness because I didn’t think I had it,” he said. “I didn’t believe in it.”
After the birth of his daughter, the light came back into his eyes and DSmoovee decided to get help for his depression and work to motivate other African Americans to take their mental health seriously. It was his mother’s desire that he be a good father to his children and, although she was no longer here, he wanted to live up to her standard.
“My mother always instilled in me to give my children a better life than I’d ever had and I knew I couldn’t do that,” DSmoovee said. “I couldn’t live up to the words of wisdom that my mother left for me if I continued to stay in that same state I was living in.”
His resilience and dedication to life brought him out of the darkness so he could continue on his path of community involvement and support. Through the Urban League’s Serving Our Streets Initiative, DSmoovee is able to be hands-on around the city; reaching black youth, feeding the less fortunate, and even helping to tackle the rising opioid crisis plaguing inner-city neighborhoods.
“As I continue to move forward with life and continue to get these new opportunities and continue to get blessed, I’ve found that I realized my passion in life when I found community,” he said. “I found my passion in life when I was able to help families and help St. Louis be a better place.”
In a sense, DSmoovee is taking what his mother and grandmother gave to him and imparting it to those around him. Although he believes he’ll never get over losing his entire support system, he knows he is doing something right as the voice of the streets, both in the community and live on-air.
“I’m doing everything I can and I would die for this,” he said. “The people who look like me, I would die for them if that’s what it takes to get them to realize that community is us. We are all we have.”
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