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The Sunflower

Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

‘It’s not just about partying’: WSU DJ hopes to spread love, positivity on and off the court

DJ Win Crabtree or DJ 4THE WIN plays music during Shocker Madness on Oct. 7. (Kristy Mace)

Win Crabtree lives by a simple philosophy: “Put good into the world, and good will come back to you.” It’s a mindset that has guided him personally — from the death of his father to the birth of his daughter — and professionally as he rises among the ranks as one of the hottest DJs on the Wichita music scene. 

A frequent DJ for Wichita State basketball games, Crabtree — also known as DJ 4THE WIN — said that maintaining that mantra is one of the most important aspects of his identity, both behind and away from the mixer.

“I try to… make someone’s day, add value to at least one person,” Crabtree said. “ I wake up, and I ask myself, ‘Can I add value to 10 people today?’ Some days you might hit 15, some days it might be three, but as long as you’re adding value to the world.”

From a young age, Crabtree was always “really into” music, something that his parents embedded within his childhood. 

“I just remember like riding in the car … with my parents hearing stuff, and it just blew my mind,” Crabtree said.

As a child, he attended Buckner Performing Arts Magnet Elementary School, where he expanded upon his love of music and started making connections with classmates and local performers. In the fifth grade, he met Donavan LaMond Johnson, better known as XV,  a now well-known local rapper who writes and produces his own songs and beats. 

XV was one of Crabtree’s greatest and earliest mentors when it came to learning how to record, edit and produce his own beats. 

“Building relationships is so key and, honestly, spreading love,” Crabtree said. “It just comes back; it really comes back.”

Throughout high school, XV taught Crabtree how to monetize his music through SoundClip and Fruity Loops (FL Studio), some of the earliest internet-based audio workstations. While the market was new, his early exposure and growing familiarity with music recording and publishing software showed Crabtree that he could both do music and make a living from it without the support of a multi-million dollar record label.

“At that time, the industry was still like, go to New York and rap in front of a record label. And so we were kind of breaking that barrier by using the internet to get our music out,” Crabtree said. “With the internet, you’re just kind of able to control your own narrative.”

Throughout the mid-2000s, Crabtree continued producing and publishing music, selling merchandise where, before the days of constant express delivery, customers would pick up packages from Dillons. He got his first big break from one of Wichita’s largest cultural staples – Chicken N’ Pickle. The post-COVID-19 establishment limitations made open-air spaces, like the Chicken N’ Pickle rooftop parties, hotspots for those looking to unwind, and Crabtree was happy to spread his positive energy to those in need of a pick-me-up. Local performer DJ Bearfoot helped him find footing in the Wichita music scene. 

As 2020 was coming to a close, Crabtree promised himself that he would take his career “up a notch.” He volunteered his services for his aunt and uncle’s nonprofit, Rise Up for Youth Foundation, an organization dedicated to providing urban city youth with mentorship tools and other resources to help them plan for lifelong success.

After a couple of other community gigs and collaborations, including with the Wichita Wind Surge, Crabtree and DJ Bearfoot were contacted by Connor Phelps, the director of marketing and fan engagement for WSU athletics, to DJ for his wedding.

“They did an awesome job DJing the wedding. I know I danced all night and our friends and family did as well so I’d say they got an A+ grade from me,” Phelps said. “There was even a small handful of people at the end of the night that weren’t ready for the party to be over so they were pulling out their wallets to pay Bear and Win to stay and keep playing. It was incredible.

Bearfoot, who has performed for WSU in the past, then asked Crabtree if he would be interested in DJing for WSU basketball games and other events. The rest, Crabtree says, is history. 

“Win is absolutely one of my favorite people I get to work with because of his constant positive energy. Gamedays are stressful because there are so many moving pieces to organize and expectations to meet, but his positive and calming demeanor always puts me at ease in any interaction I have with him,” Phelps said. “When someone can affect how you feel to that extent in that kind of environment, I think it’s pretty obvious how special of a person he is.”

By early 2022, he was a regular MC, host and DJ for Wichita State athletics, building his name and spreading his messages of love and community with every job.

“My mission statement is to build community through music and art,” Crabtree said. “It’s not just about partying or playing music; it’s about leaving with an experience and feeling good and hopefully wanting to take that energy and do something good with it.”

Crabtree’s faith has also been a guiding force in his life; his relationship with God has played an invaluable role in his success.

 “It’s made me the person I am today,” Crabtree said. “Just always trusting God is gonna get you through that situation” 

With numerous events on the horizon, Crabtree is excited to not only grow his skills and continue spreading love but also to influence the next generation of people and performers.

“(I want to tell them to) get right with your spirit, seek your true purpose … and just never give up,” Crabtree said. “Put in the work and put the time in and just stay positive and spread love.”

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About the Contributors
Allison Campbell
Allison Campbell, Editor in Chief
Allison Campbell is the editor in chief of The Sunflower. Campbell is a junior pursuing a journalism and media production degree with a minor in English. Campbell hopes to pursue a career in writing or editing after graduation. They use any pronouns.
Kristy Mace
Kristy Mace, Photo Editor
Kristy Mace is the photo editor for The Sunflower. She's majoring in psychology. Currently a junior, Mace hopes to go on to get her Ph.D. and become a neuropsychologist. She also plays for Wichita State's bowling team and does professional photography aside from The Sunflower.

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