Lanzel Smith Jr
Lanzel Smith Jr (born 27 November 1995), popularly known by his stage names DJ Zel, Zelly Zel, The Adventures of DJ Zel, is an American entrepreneur, DJ, barber, author, multi-instrumentalist, and consultant. He is the founder of the Zel Entertainment LLC, a renaissance business that offers professional services in several industries, including entertainment, hair, real estate, consulting, and others.
Smith is one of the leading music artists and is recognized as a millennial renaissance man. He has collaborated with renowned personalities, including Michael Rainey Jr, Shaggy, QQ, Burna Boy, Linky First, Lil Yachty, Lil Uzi Vert, PNB Rock, and others.
Smith has worked with major corporations such as 300 Entertainment, Brooklyn Knights Entertainment, Hot 97, The Source Magazine, Revolt TV, Netflix, Barbershopconnect, CW Network, Faithful Black Men Association, and Hair Illusions LLC, Classic Film Studios Inc, and LoveRenaissance.
Early life and education
Smith was born in Maryland to Jenafeca Smith and Lanzel Smith Sr., who were Jamaican immigrants. The family later moved to Hempstead, NY. By the age of 12, Smith commenced his career as a barber, and when he turned 14, Smith started taking guitar lessons. His mother is an author, singer/songwriter, actor, and philanthropist, and his father was a teacher in the New York City School system.
During his time in high school, Smith joined the Voices of Virtue Inc. choral ensemble as a Baritone/Tenor. He competed in several singing competitions in Prague, Czech Republic, and San Juan, Puerto Rico. Smith was also a volunteer medical assistant at the Mercy Medical Center and was a part of the Youth Advisory Council at the Family and Children's Association (FCA), a non-profit organization. Smith graduated from Hempstead High School in 2013.
Soon after his graduation, Smith enrolled in a bachelor's program at Syracuse University, majoring in public health and minoring in entrepreneurship and marketing. During his time at the university, Smith provided music-based entertainment and barbering on the campus. In 2016, Smith became a part of the Delta Zeta Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. He was also a member of Redemption A Capella and Black Celestial Choral Ensemble.
Smith commenced his career when he was in high school. In 2011, Smith became a contributing author at AuthorHouse, where he contributed his songs and poetry compilations. In 2012, he became a health promotion specialist at Da’ Truth Sexual Health Promotion Program, where he worked for two years participating in community outreach programs, educating people about healthy sexual lifestyles.
In 2014, Smith began his career as a disc jockey by joining Verbal Blend, a spoken word poetry program that encourages young writers and performers.
In the same year, Smith founded Zel Entertainment LLC during his sophomore year of college. It is a personal brand that offers professional services in several industries, including entertainment, hair, real estate, consulting, and others. Zel Entertainment LLC also has a subsidiary named Versatile & Valued Society. Smith’s company specializes in live musical performances, barbering, music production & promotion, graphic design & animation, creative direction, brand development, tour management, guerrilla & social media marketing, and business growth consulting. Under Smith’s leadership, Zel Entertainment LLC collaborated with several artists, including Lil Uzi, Lil Yachty, Sonny Digital, Bryson Tiller, and others.
While at Syracuse University, Smith became the most popular DJ at the number one party school in America. At the same time, Smith became the most expensive barber to cut hair on any college campus in history.
In 2015, Smith co-founded The Young Black Successful LLC, a company that aims to highlight the black diaspora and supports the black community, encouraging entrepreneurs and showcases their achievements. Smith also became a sponsored barber at Hair Illusion, where he overlooks online media promotion along with in-shop demonstrations and implements other strategic marketing techniques.
During his college years, Smith also worked with Grape Records LLC, an independent record label affiliated with ASAP Rocky. Smith, during his time at the Grape Records LLC, worked with several renowned artists like Smooky Margielaa, Jellyman, and Drew Drippy and was the DJ at both SOB’s and SXSW.
In 2017, Smith joined Revolt Media & TV as a production assistant. He marketed the Netflix original series Dear White People to over 15,000 students at Syracuse University and assembled promotional material for the on-campus screening of the series and Dear White People. In the same year, Smith became a disc jockey for the Source Magazine “Source 360 Conference & Festival”.
In 2018, Smith got featured on the cover of Renegade Magazine’s Spring issue, which is Syracuse University’s first and only Black general-interest magazine. He also hosted the first collaboration between Syracuse’s National Pan-Hellenic Council and University Union “Cuse For Good”. This featured Yara Shahidi as a guest panelist and Joey Badass as both a concert headliner and guest panelist.
In 2019, Smith founded The Versatile and Valued Society (VVS). This venture is a multi-industry collaborative that aims at uplifting influential people focusing mainly on consulting and production. Under Smith’s leadership, the VVS worked alongside Black Sox Media, Brooklyn Knights Entertainment, and 300 Entertainment for an animated lyric video to Money Up by Shaggy and Noah Powa. VVS has also consulted and collaborated with the launch of Houston-based brand Shiff.
In that same year, Smith became an area leasing and marketing coordinator for the American Campus Communities, where he worked for over a year.
In 2020, Smith released his first single under the Versatile and Valued Society named Whine Fi Mi Baby, featuring JoDaGoon and Deem Marley. Soon after his release, he joined Classic Film Studios Inc. as an audio engineer and production assistant.
Zel Entertainment Past Collaborations:
- LoveRenaissance (2020)
- The Groomsmith Lounge (2019)
- Faithful Black Men Association (2019)
- Shaggy & Noah Powa's "Money Up" (2019)
- Hot 97 "Who's Next" (2017)
- "OMG They Did That" Party Festival (2017)
- The Source 360 (2017)
- Hair Illusion LLC Sponsored Barber (2015-present)
- CW Network with “Cedric’s Barber Battle”, hosted by Cedric The Entertainer (2015)
- New Lifestyles Barber Shop (2014-2017)
- Campus Cuts 315 (2014-2015)
- Hope Benefit Festival (2014-2019)
- Verbal Blend Poetry Slam (2014-2019)
Smith diligently abides by his mantra, “Versatility is Gold.” He strongly believes in his ties to African culture and aims at promoting his ideas of unity for the African diaspora.
In the media
- Sadler, Armon (22 February 2019). "The Adventures of DJ Zel - Millennial Renaissance Man". Faithful Black Men Association. Retrieved 7 October 2020.
- Sadler, Armon (19 April 2019). "Celebrating One of Hip-Hop's Cornerstones - The DJ". KAZI. MAGAZINE. Retrieved 7 October 2020.
- Stories, Local. "2020 vision for The Adventures of DJ Zel - Voyage Houston Magazine | Houston City Guide". Retrieved 7 October 2020.
- "Audiomack: Music Streaming and Sharing". audiomack.com. Retrieved 7 October 2020.
- "Cuse for Good: Joey Bada$$ gives energetic performance for social justice". The Daily Orange. 18 February 2018. Retrieved 7 October 2020.
- "The adventures of DJ ZEL". Blackstone LaunchPad. 11 February 2019. Retrieved 7 October 2020.
- "The Adventures of DJ Zel - MusicBrainz". musicbrainz.org. Retrieved 2020-10-07.