March 9th marked the 20th anniversary of Biggie Smalls' death, and social media was flooded with tributes to the iconic mc, but one homage stood out among them all.
11-year-old twins, DJs Amira & Kayla, posted a video of themselves on Instagram practicing their turntable skills chopping up Biggie’s "Unbelievable" with deft precision.
The clip is everything! In addition to being blown away by their obvious talent and their musical taste, the twins’ synergy and enthusiasm are palpable. Amira and Kayla take turns standing in as each other’s hype-woman.
The girls' father and manager, Elijah Wells, was taken aback by the video’s popularity. The Grammy-nominated music producer and talent manager tells Konbini they’ve posted lots videos in the past but this one resonated with many.
"These videos are a peep into the girl’s practice sessions. They aren’t made to be perfect and they aren’t planned. For whatever reason a lot loved it."
Wells' love of old-school hip-hop inspired the girl’s throwback DJ style, which incorporates lots of scratching and turntablism. The girls naturally gravitated towards his turntables instead of dolls as toddlers.
Amira and Kayla were only three-years-old when they began messing around with their father’s DJ equipment. At five, they were already cutting and scratching records.
Soon after, the girls were putting in the work to be professional DJs by practicing daily to build up their skills and learning the history behind the music they were spinning. Their parents also hired a coach to perfect the girl’s scratching techniques.
"I throw a dance party for kids and I would have Amina and Kayla warm-up the crowd before the DJ for the event would get on. I was grooming them to take over the event and they couldn’t wait to. They always loved music, so this is a natural and organic progression."
At 10, the twins became the resident DJs for the three-hour party and before they knew it a steady stream of gigs came flooding in.
DJs Amira & Kayla have deejayed for New York Knicks, Nike, The United Nations, Jay Z’s 40/40 Club, BET, Kids Rock! at New York Fashion Week, The Apollo Theatre, Summer Stage and Universoul Circus.
"We make sure that their DJ work doesn’t interfere with their childhood and school. They're not interested in the hoopla that comes with being DJs. They just want to be good at it.
At the end of the day, they just want to be kids. They want to be lawyers and doctors when they get older."
Listening to honor roll students Kayla and Amira talk about how much deejaying is fun, it’s clear that their love for the art form is genuine and not the product of overbearing stage-parents.
For Kayla, the best part about being a DJ is getting the crowd excited. "I love music and making people dance and happy." Amira loves that she gets to collaborate with her twin: "I love deejaying with my sister and we both get to take turns. We also get to hype each other up and it’s so much fun."
They love to spin all kinds of music like R&B, hip-hop, old-school, EDM. While Kayla says she doesn’t have a favorite artist, Amira "loves Nicki Minaj!" One thing they both agree on is that practice makes perfect.
They’re amassing a growing following, but their biggest fan has to be their proud dad.
"They bring me more joy than they will ever know. It’s extremely rewarding and makes me proud when people I looked up to in the music industry tell me I am doing a great job with my girls."
Check out Amira and Kayla performing at the Global Spin Awards below:
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