Before Jae Murphy became an in-demand DJ, he was a host known for working the room at comedy showcases, dance competitions, and fraternity parties on campus at Howard University, where he studied broadcast journalism. “I was great with the limelight and controlling the party,” says Murphy, who initially bristled at the idea of stepping behind the decks — until his fraternity brothers convinced him to learn how to match beats and string together playlists.

Fresh out of college, Murphy was tapped to emcee a couple of shows on the 2012 BET Music Matters Tour, which was headlined by Kendrick Lamar — just weeks before the release of his seminal album, good kid, m.a.a.d city. Murphy managed to stick around for the entire tour and when a DJ booking fell through on the west coast, he was ready to step in and make his live debut as a self-taught selector. For the rest of the tour, Murphy hyped up the crowds with his words and a stream of carefully-curated tracks.

Settling in Los Angeles, Murphy began spinning at nightclubs throughout Hollywood, establishing himself as someone equally comfortable manning the turntables or the mic. In 2015, he became the official tour DJ for R&B singer-songwriter Jason Derulo, embarking on a series of worldwide tours and performing at events like the NFL Thanksgiving Day Halftime Show, the BET Music Awards, and festivals in Europe, Australia, Asia, and Africa. “DJing has literally taken me around the world and back seven or eight times,” Murphy says.

DJ Jae Murphy spinning at his &FRNDS party in Los Angeles.

Photograph: Courtesy of Jae Murphy

When he’s not traversing the globe, Murphy has found time to reconnect with his LA roots by curating lineups of rising DJs and performing headlining sets as part of the &FRNDS event series. Co-founded by Murphy, Luke Lawal Jr., and Chris Roy, &FRNDS typically hosts parties coinciding with Martin Luther King Day, Juneteenth, and Labor Day, attracting friends, fans, and celebs like actor LaKeith Stanfield. “My goal was to have a comfortable room,” Murphy says. “Over time, we’ve added the club elements, but it’s not a club party.”

The team behind &FRNDS has used Eventbrite to ticket and promote the event series since its inception in 2016, taking advantage of the ability to create event tracking links and reach out to past attendees via email. “Eventbrite has been the most efficient and safe platform to house our event — and we haven’t strayed from [it],” Murphy says.

Whether he’s picking tunes at a private gathering alongside Jay-Z or warming up the crowd at an arena in the UK, Murphy’s sets are always heavy on songs that showcase what he calls “sonic Black excellence.” The same holds true for the playlist that Murphy created for Eventbrite in honor of Black History Month, presenting a decades-spanning soundtrack that flows from the classic anthems of Sam Cooke and Nina Simone to contemporary jams by the likes of Anderson .Paak and Solange.

Listening to the mournful melodies of Billie Holiday’s “Strange Fruit” and the world-weary strains of Childish Gambino’s “This is America” as they appear on Murphy’s playlist, it’s easy to hear why he describes music as a “monumental pillar” of Black culture. “Music is what I believe brought my culture joy during some of the most inhumane times it has endured,” Murphy explains. “And Black History Month wouldn’t be entirely what it is without Black music being celebrated.”

Check out Jae Murphy’s Black History Month playlist curated specially for Eventbrite.