Before he dominated Instagram Live during the early days of the pandemic with his Club Quarantine, Derrick “D-Nice” Jones was already a certified hip hop icon. By the time he was 15-years old, he joined Boogie Down Production along with the late Scott La Rock and the legendary MC KRS-One, who featured him on the classic anti-gun violence anthem “Self-Destrution.” From there, D-Nice went on to make a name for himself as a noted MC, producer, DJ, photographer, and cultural tastemaker. Last year, he reached a new audience with his success as the resident DJ of Club Quarantine. His live sets garnered hundreds of thousands of attendees including A-list celebrities such as Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Will Smith, and many more.
Now, D-Nice is setting about to conquering the wine world. He’s using his platform to grow his own brand as an entrepreneur by investing in Maison Marcel, a Black-owned French wine label.
“I have cultivated a deep appreciation for wine over the years. It’s my go-to beverage in moments of celebration and relaxation,” said D-Nice. “When a friend introduced me to Maison Marcel I knew it was something I wanted to be a part of; the quality of the wine is unmatched and versatile for any occasion or food pairing. I am excited about the opportunity to be part of the brand.”
Below, EBONY spoke to D-Nice about his love of wines, the importance of Black entrepreneurship, and the healing power of music.
EBONY: When most of the country was in lockdown and facing the uncertainty of a global pandemic, you provided the musical vaccine that we all needed with “Club Quarantine.” You helped to create a virtual community, a safe space despite all the hardships, losses, and anxiety that so many endured. Can you speak to the healing power of music?
D-Nice: Music has always been used to bring people together by uplifting or providing a sense of comfort. Part of what brought people together in Club Quarantine was the fact that everyone was sharing virtual stories and that social interaction, coupled with great music, is what people had been longing for. Music, especially this past year or so, created a safe space for connection and helped bridge the gap between old and young.
In addition to spinning all the tunes that we loved, Club Quarantine also raised millions of dollars for organizations such as the First Responders, HBCUs, CDC, and the Apollo Theater. As the world slowly opens up, what is the future of Club Quarantine?
Giving back has always been and will continue to be important to me in everything I do. As for the future of CQ, there is nothing like playing live and seeing the faces in the crowd. I was fortunate enough to take CQ Live on the road this fall and safely perform to sold-out crowds at amazing venues like the Hollywood Bowl. I plan on doing more live shows in the future.
One thing I’ve noticed while watching you on Instagram live was that you always had a glass of wine during your sets. When did you first become a wine connoisseur?
I have always appreciated wine; however, as I got older and my palate matured, I started to really understand the complexities of different wines. When I am into something I tend to want to learn all about it and wine was no different. I love to pair a great glass of wine with a cigar for a relaxing evening.
For those who may not know the difference between a Sauvignon Blanc or a Cabernet Sauvignon, what advice would you give to those who aren’t sophisticated oenophiles?
Be open-minded! Start with a taste you like and keep exploring. I believe anyone can develop an appreciation for wine over time.
With so many choices available, what is your selection process when it comes to choosing wines?
I am fortunate to get great recommendations from friends who are well-versed in this area. When I taste something that I like, I will usually try to find similar styles of wine from that region or grape variation. It’s a lot of experimentation which is the fun part.
Now that you’re a part of Maison Marcel, what is your vision as an investor in the brand?
At this stage in my life, I want to invest my time and energy into things I am passionate about. I have a deep appreciation for wine and I am passionate about uplifting Black-owned businesses. I am always honored to be able to use my platform to shine a light on innovators in our community.
Why is it important for you and for Black people to have ownership in the brands that they consume?
I cannot stress enough how important ownership is. Most of us did not come from any type of wealth and it’s so important to begin creating generational wealth for our children, the next generation.
Here’s a music and wine question: What album or song would you play that best describes your favorite bottles of Maison Marcel?
Lastly, you’ve been recognized so much over the last year for your contributions to the culture and it’s been incredible to see you get your well-deserved flowers for your legendary career. Recently, you were named to EBONY’s prestigious Power 100 list. How did you feel when you received that honor?
I still feel weird about being recognized for simply doing what I love, but it’s a great honor to grace a list amongst trailblazers and icons. When I started doing music I always knew I wanted to make an impact, even at a young age; however, I never could have imagined this kind of recognition. I am still humbled by EBONY selecting me.