All photo credits:  John Coleman III


John Coleman III aka DJ LIL’ JOHN, is without question one of Chicago’s most well-respected DJs. From school gymnasiums to roller rinks, from nightclub residencies to nationally syndicated mix shows, millions of people have heard his “hands do the talking.”

John’s passion has always been in radio. He played on various college radio shows right after graduating high school, without ever enrolling in any classes! Soon after, he created his own national mix-show syndication, mailing his pre-recorded cassette mixes to radio stations across the Midwest. By the mid 90’s, he used the same tactics in Chicago, getting his mixes played on WHPK, WCRX, WJPC, WLUW, B-96, and WGCI. By 2001, the latter station became his radio “home” for eight years!!

In 2012, DJ Lil’ John found a new radio home, as an On-Air Personality for Crawford Broadcasting’s WSRB. You can hear him weekdays from 3-7pm (central standard time) on his highly-rated afternoon show “PrimeTime Radio.” You can also hear his mini-mixes Monday-Saturday in the 12pm & 5pm hours, and on “Club 1063”, Friday nights 9-11pm.

Outside of radio, DJ Lil’ John specializes in playing at corporate events, nightclubs, weddings, and concert hosting. Recent clients include BET®, Scion®, Apple®, Nike®, and numerous Chicagoland municipalities. Nationally, he is a member of The Core DJs (@coredjsworldwide), the world’s largest and most influential DJ union. He is available for travel both nationally and internationally.

GO BANG! Magazine: Chicago’s music scene has a rich history. How did your upbringing and the city’s soundscape influence your unique DJ style?

DJ Lil John: My upbringing was in the family home, and my dad, my mom, and her sister (my aunt) were all avid music lovers. My mom and aunt each had their own collection of 45 rpm records, writing their initials on the labels to identify ownership, and to identify their favorite side and the favorite song.

I think I was about 9 or 10 years old when they let me play their records for a family function, that’s when I first learned to play for a variety of ages, and how to read a crowd! Fast forward to my adult DJ years, and I’ve learned to “read” dance floors on the northside, southside, and westside of Chicagoland, the suburbs, and the world…

GO BANG! Magazine: You’ve spun for some of the biggest names in music. What’s the most unexpected or surprising guest request you’ve ever gotten?

DJ Lil John: Oh wow! I have PLENTY of those stories, LMAO!! But one that comes to mind was when “Chili” of the girl group TLC asked me to play some Chicago “footwork” music. I was a DJ at WGCI-FM at the time, and she was there doing an on-air interview with one of the hosts. She turned to me and made that request, and I straight up asked her, “you’re from Atlanta, what could YOU know about Chicago footwork music?” To my surprise, I played a couple of snippets, and she got up and started FOOTWORKING!!! We were ALL floored!! She eventually relinquished her secret: “Missy (Elliott)’s dancers are from Chicago, they showed us how to do it!”

GO BANG! Magazine: Beyond dropping beats, you’re a champion for Chicago’s youth. Tell us about an initiative you’re particularly passionate about and why it matters.

DJ Lil John: I am all about the youth of Chicago in so many ways. Musically, I like to learn from them what role music plays in their lives, how it influences them daily, and the “why-behind-the-what” on their choice of artists.

But, when it comes to our beloved House music, it is unfamiliar territory to them. This is why several of my peers, including myself, have taken the initiative to introduce this genre of music to our youth, just as we were influenced by the music that our parents played in our homes growing up. The hope is that they like the music that they hear, embrace the genre, influence their peers, and carry the torch of the House music sound and culture for generations to come.

A couple of my peers have taken this initiative even further, with DJ classes for youth and adults alike. Many of my fellow DJs who are fortunate enough to play at school dances, take a chance on introducing House music (especially “footwork” music) to the kids! Being a radio announcer and DJ mixer, I am in a unique and influential position when it comes to the younger listening audience. As my peers tune in to my show, those that have children are tuned in as well. All it takes is the parental confession that “I know the guy on the radio”, and that becomes the first line of connection with the young listener. When the kids hear the music in my mixes, which are usually familiar songs that their parents played in their homes, that gets their attention. If the parent manages to communicate with me, while I’m on the radio that they are tuned in, and I “shout out” the family members by name, I’ve now instantly gained new young listeners ☺️

GO BANG! Magazine: The dance floor is a melting pot of energy. How do you read the crowd and curate a set that keeps them moving all night long?

DJ Lil John: I like to arrive an hour early to a venue I’ve never played at before, to observe what the DJ before me is playing, and how it resonates with the audience. I am looking for the patrons that AREN’T dancing or engaging with what’s being played, yet they may be bobbing their heads in their seats – we call that “chair dancing” LOL! So, when I begin to play, I am in search of what might get those “chair dancers” to the dance floor, usually by reaching for something popular. This tactic almost always does the trick, and once I’ve got ’em out of their seats, I curate a musical mix that makes it hard for them to sit back down! And because my musical library is so vast, I have selections that appease the variety of ethnicities that patronize the venues I play in, Chicagoland and worldwide.

GO BANG! Magazine: “Vinyl vs. Digital”: Is there a place for both in today’s DJ world? What are the pros and cons of each for you?

DJ Lil John: Well, it appears vinyl records are making a comeback in a big way, at least here in the USA. Honestly, it never REALLY went away in Chicagoland. There are still vinyl record shops (Gramaphone Records, K-Starke, etc.) that never closed their doors, and there are countless diehard DJs here in the city that never stopped patronizing these businesses. I still own every record I’ve ever purchased (I haven’t sold anything), and I still have my pair of Technics SL-1200 turntables. However, I am using my Pioneer XDJ-XZ to play my digital music files, and the turntables are connected to it, to play my vinyl records. There are various clubs in Chicago and overseas that have a similar setup… But I have NO intentions of carrying actual record crates on a plane and/or through foreign Customs, those days are OVER!! Flash drives fly with ME!!

GO BANG! Magazine: Chicago House music has a global influence. Have you experienced any interesting cultural exchanges through your music, perhaps with international audiences?

DJ Lil John: More often than not, when I travel to DJ internationally, just the mention of being a Chicago DJ is one hell of a conversation piece, LOL!! These conversations can often go on for hours, as people attempt to imagine life in the home of Michael Jordan or the home of House music.

The most intriguing part of these interactions is that there are NO color barriers, NO signs of racism, NO discernment about gender preference or ethnic culture. The only “disconnect” if any, is their interpretation of House music versus what I came to play. But fortunately, with my diverse collection of House music, I am usually able to move their dance floors effectively and unite the House music culture accordingly!

GO BANG! Magazine: What’s your take on the evolution of DJ technology? How have these advancements impacted the way you perform?

DJ Lil John: Funny you should ask! I was such a diehard vinyl record fan that I never fully transitioned to CDs, I stayed with my turntables. It got so bad to the point that I would be playing at a local club on an R&B/Hip-Hop night, and a patron would ask me to play “track 12” from a certain artist’s album – they didn’t even know the name of the song! If I had said album, I would start counting from one on the A-side, until I got to the twelfth track on the B-side!!

Fortunately, before long, some guys invented the Serato Studio DJ software, allowing me to keep my turntables, while controlling those music tracks, I imported from the CDs or digital files I received from the record labels. As far as I am concerned, Serato DJ had successfully reinvented the wheel, LOL!

Today there are other brands that do the same thing, but then Serato reinvented the wheel AGAIN! They added a feature called “Stems” which lets you audibly break down virtually ANY song into acapella, instrumental, or drums only, all on the fly!! But, I believe that the Pioneer DJ company has created the global game-changer, when they produced DJ equipment that will let you play your digital music files straight from a flash drive or portable hard drive! As long as the venue has this type of DJ equipment, there’s no need to carry your laptop with the music on it or any other equipment, except your headphones and flash drives/hard drives! Talk about breezing through Customs, LOL!

VIDEO COURTESY OF: Youtube “Everything House Music & More” podcast

GO BANG! Magazine: Collaboration is key in music. Who are some Chicago artists (past or present) you’d love to work with on a project?

DJ Lil John: Currently, I’d love to collaborate with my DJ brother Mike Dunn. We started the House music mix-show “Club 1063” back in April 2012, and it’s still going stronger than ever every Friday night! We’ve talked about collaborating in the studio in the near future, and it will happen once we synchronize our watches/schedules! Others include vocalists Sheree Hicks, Joyce Hurley, Carla Prather, and a couple others that are relatively unknown at this point…

GO BANG! Magazine: Looking ahead, what are your hopes for the future of Chicago’s vibrant music scene?

DJ Lil John: My BIGGEST hope is that my peers can refrain from the vast negativity in their social media posts – the WORLD is watching as our DJs, producers, and passionate patrons debate negatively amongst themselves about various topics within the Chicago House music community. If we/they can resolve this issue, then just maybe we can find solutions and resolutions on the very subjects that are debated about. Also, I am truly hoping that the younger DJs and patrons that are slowly but surely carrying the culture forward, I hope that they are not affected by the same plight of social media bickering that my generation is currently portraying.

GO BANG! Magazine: Any “up-and-coming” Chicago DJs you think deserve a shout-out and why?

DJ Lil John: ABSOLUTELY! Our rising star youth DJs: Babydoll & Syd, Nikki, Akila, Double-8, Marcellus, M-Dok and my main man J-Star! They’re each under 25 years of age (I think), and actively keeping House music alive amongst their peers and ours!!

GO BANG! Magazine: Well, THANK YOU John! You have officially been BANGED! GO BANG BRO!!!


Contact him directly at 312.451.4804, email,, and on social media platforms @djliljohnusa.

◦ WSRB 106.3FM – Chicago/Hammond
◦ Social : @djliljohnusa

Pierre A. Evans is a freelance writer of Entertainment, Music, Art, Culture, Fashion and Current Events, and previously for,,,, and, an author, singer/songwriter, actor, model, poet, dancer, and DJ. He is also the Owner of Pinnacle Entertainment Productions and the Owner/Publisher of GO BANG!

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