hella     Texas is home to some of the earliest originators of urban music and culture. For every hometown hero turned platinum star there was a network of curators and tastemakers that cultivated the path to prominence. At the core of this cog, the DJ would be instrumental in carrying the culture forward. DJ Hella Yella is one such instrument, and just like the hometown heroes, he has assisted he is well on his way to cementing his own legacy for the culture.


Long before he was dubbed his “Yella Hulk” moniker, DJ Hella Yella was Leon O’Neal, a Killeen resident by way of San Antonio on his way to study kinesiology at the only Historically Black College in Texas’ capital. His exposure to music at a young age as well as the music-driven movie hype of 90’s films like “Juice” is what Yella credits his early DJ aspirations to. He began to study the greats like Jazzy Jeff, Screw, Kid Capri and Funkmaster Flex. He would begin his career in college circa 2004, and the journey would only gain momentum from there.


What started as O’Neal filling in for a last minute DJ vacancy for a school party would snowball into a full blown career complete with awards and appearances that Yella had once dreamed of. From collaborative projects with artists like Dorrough, Mya, and Travis Porter to national television appearances on MTV, BET & WETV, O’Neal was making his mark as the go-to guy for Texas rap culture. “…DJ’ing to me is like figuring out a puzzle” Yella says. “I have to figure out how to give these people the night of their life.” With that love for the craft and his list of accolades growing, Hella Yella was making his mark, a mark that would prove beneficial in the creation of NGenius ENT, the label that would discover and launch the career of platinum-selling Texas titan Dorrough.


Both The Austin Chronicle, Austin Hip-Hop Awards and  the Southern Entertainment Awards have heralded Hella Yella as “Club DJ of the Year” during the run of his career.  Nationally publicized events like A3C, SXSW, NBA All-Star Weekend, Super Bowl Weekend and the X-Games have been blessed by the presence and ingenuity of the Hulk on more than one occasion. Hella Yella has also shared the stage with world-renowned artists such as The Wu-Tang Clan, Wiz Khalifa, Migos, Wale, UGK, Nicki Minaj, T-Pain, Big Sean, Big Boi, Kendrick Lamar and many more A-List artists. Hella Yella has become a brand and what better way to do that than to align with brands that have withstood the test of time. Brands like Cîroc, Google, Yahoo Music, and The NBA G-League Austin Spurs have all utilized the Hella Yella brand as a partner in connecting with the community that he represents so well.


The community is one thing that Yella has been visual and vocal about. So much so that he was acquired by iHeartRadio’s 102.3 The Beat as the first and only on-air mixer in the history of The Station. He does this in between his weekly residencies in both Austin and San Antonio. Another part  of his vision for Austin is to use his notoriety to aid the resurgence of hip-hop nightlife within the city. Hella Yella often promotes parties with celebrity and professional athlete attendees to help his cause. In his own words, his goal is “To become the go-to voice for central Texas Hip-Hop culture; similar to what Drama is for Atlanta, and what Big Von is to The Bay Area.” He then wants to take that model to a regional level followed by a national one. If his resume tells you anything so far, it should be that his goals have been something Yella takes very seriously. So expect nothing short of that same dedication for the future.