WSU alumni leaves behind legacy to last lifetimes

Jose Salvador Gutierrez, Jr., hip-hop icon, died from COVID-19 complications



Jose “DJ Luvva J” Salvador Gutierrez, Jr. speaks to a youth community group.


This fall, the WSU community suffered a great loss. As a DJ, writer, radio host and more, Jose “DJ Luvva J” Salvador Gutierrez, Jr., was well known up and down I-5 and in the Coug Community.

As an inspiration to so many, Gutierrez retained his gift for learning up until he died at age 44 on Nov. 5, due to COVID-19 and other health complications.

“He was a DJ by heart and by his soul; that was who he was and how he was able to communicate with people,” Gutierrez’s mother Arkame Curry said. “Through his DJing and the art of hip-hop, he became known internationally, up and down the highway 5 corridor from LA to Vancouver, British Columbia.”

As a pillar for WSU alumni who were at the campus in the late 90s and early 2000s, Gutierrez was widely known throughout the community for inspiring those around him, said Nadia Daúd, Gutierrez’s best friend and university classmate.

As a young boy, Gutierrez pursued whatever he found intriguing. Then, one day in his early teens, he read an article in The Olympian about the atmosphere surrounding hip-hop. Curry, said Gutierrez was very upset about the article that portrayed hip-hop negatively, painting it to be something it is not.

“When he thought about all of the artists who [had] positive messages and [were] doing things that uplifted the culture, the race and the community; he felt like that had not been addressed at all,” she said. “And what he did do was complain about it. And so I said, ‘Why are you complaining about it? Why don’t you go write the editor and do a rebuttal to the editor’s note?’”

After that talk and at the age of 14, Gutierrez brought his mother a long letter filled with his rebuttal. The piece would soon become his first paid article and land him a job with The Olympian to create a two-page spread on the topic: “What is hip-hop?” That was his first experience with educating the community, and from that point forward, Curry said, Gutierrez continued toward education.

Gutierrez attended many universities in his lifetime, such as WSU, Evergreen State College, Western Washington University and University of California Berkeley School of Law. He was enrolled this fall semester, Daúd said.

Gutierrez began attending WSU in 1995. Daúd said that while Gutierrez was at WSU, he continued to pursue his love of radio and hip-hop. He DJ‘d on Pullman’s KZUU 90.7 FM, as well as many events around town. He was also a part of the Cable 8 Productions at WSU and a co-founder of Black Men Making a Difference, now called Black/Brown Men Making a Difference (BMMAD).

Gutierrez’s desire to help others was also seen in his volunteer work, Daúd said. In 2002, Gutierrez founded “Hip-Hop 4 the Homeless.” It is an organization that held concert events offering free admission in exchange for donations of clothes, blankets or anything useful to the homeless. He also helped with many local events and the Northwest hip-hop scene.

He never strayed from his authentic self, Daúd said. His compassion toward all living creatures represented how much he truly cared for anyone and everyone. 

Torry Hollimon, former WSU football player and acquaintance of Gutierrez, said he had the opportunity to cross paths on a creative and artistic level with Gutierrez. When it came to hip-hop and matters of minorities, he was always on top of things. Hollimon said Gutierrez was an individual who had him and many others questioning where he got his vast wealth of knowledge and care from.

“One of the things you’ll find with Jose is, no matter the amount of time you spent with him – you could be the individual who spent every day with him, or you could see or speak to him once or twice a year – whenever you get with him you felt like you are talking to a family member or a friend whom you were with every single day,” Hollimon said.

In Olympia, Curry said she has been receiving numerous calls from various people who want to share how Gutierrez touched their lives. She said she had no idea her son was as influential to others as he was, but that she is honored to have been his mother.

Friends and family of the DJ are in the process of obtaining an alumni tile and memorial on WSU’s Pullman campus for Gutierrez.