The Art of the Hustle: Jamil Hamilton
Jamil Hamilton is your typical D.C. consultant. What’s not so typical is that at night, when most of his colleagues are in bed, he’s driving to one of his popular DJ gigs.
But with a demanding full-time day job, I wondered how he has the time to juggle it all (or rather, why he bothers to juggle at all.)
The answer is always passion. Hamilton has been moonlighting as a DJ since he was a school kid, and passion like that doesn’t just go away.
“Along the way, you will question why you make the sacrifices you do,” says Hamilton. “You will look at the easy road and wonder whether having any integrity is worth it. You will make mistakes. But if you do something long enough with love as your major motivation, you will eventually start to break through the clouds and see the sunlight.”
What are the benefits, in your opinion, of moonlighting?
“DJing affords me a secondary income, and more importantly, an artistic outlet that helps me maintain my spiritual balance.”
What are the disadvantages of moonlighting?
“It’s an expensive pastime, if you do it right you miss out on a lot of needed rest and worst of all, you sometimes must deal directly with less-couth members of the public at large.”
Is DJing your passion? If so, do you hope to do it full time one day?
“It is my passion, but having a salaried day job and benefits gives me freedom from taking side gigs solely for mercenary reasons. I can do what interests me and create my own vision for my art without having my decisions influenced by the need to survive.
There are no 401K plans for DJs and unless your name is Skrillex (who sucks at DJing BTW) you aren’t pulling down the kind of money that lets you retire before you are a senior citizen.”
How do you currently juggle these two very intense priorities in your life?
“My work is all about a shared appreciation for art. Art that is meaningful in some way. I play the music that I personally love and that I hope others will be open to.
I do things that make me happy; like traveling to the Worldwide Festival in Sete, France once a year.
When I’m in DC, I go to the bookstore in the National Gallery of Art. I’ll grab a few friends and do Bikes and Breakfast in Clifton VA. I’ll go record shopping at Joe’s Record Paradise in Silver Spring. And on the weekends I lunch at the Eden Center in Falls Church.
The most important though, is every so often, I just completely disengage from my friends, family and loved ones. I also turn down gigs during this “recharging” period of my life. I do this at least once per year. Rest is so important when you’re pouring yourself into your art. Whatever that art may be.
Photography by Leah Beilhart