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To Deejay or NOT… Top DJs Exposed?

About the writer: DJ Ol’ Skool

K is a former radio, mix-show DJ, turned producer/remixer, who gained

popularity on what was once Washington D.C.’s number one Hip-Hop show,

“Live In The Den With Big Tigger.” His production company, K.O.

Productionz, has written, produced and done official remixes for the

likes of Monica, Biz Markie, Scarface, Yolanda Adams, BET, DJ Kool,

Born Jamericans, Spragga Benz and a host of others. Along with deejaying

and production, Ol’ Skool K is also a drummer and a former MC. 

 

In this weekly series, we will discuss a new breed of DJs that don’t

deejay, basic deejaying skills, taking your skills from the club to

the radio, the pros and cons of using MP3s, and making the transition

from DJ to producer. We will also include a tutorial with helpful tips

for the amateur DJ, as well as the more established DJ. 

 

What’s up everybody?  It’s ya boy Ol’ Skool K aka Khalid K. When I started

this editorial /tutorial, I didn’t expect it to be this long, so I decided

to break it down into parts. Off the top, before we get into it, I have

to address an issue that’s really been disturbing me for a while now. 

This topic was briefly touched upon by DJ Q45 and DJ Scratch on BET’s

Rap City.  My primary concern is directed at a new breed of so-called

DJs who don’t really deejay. Sounds funny right?  You ask, how can a

DJ not deejay?  Don’t get me wrong, there are several DJs that are representin’

to the fullest, but there are many that are just pushing buttons and

can’t actually operate two turntables and a microphone. 

 

This whole DJs that don’t deejay concept actually hit-home with me,

literally, when my 15 year-old stepson started making mix-tapes and came

up with a DJ name, without ever touching a set of turntables. Now I’ve

got to admit, he has a great ear for Hip-Hop, an enormous passion for

acquiring music, and all of the mix-tapes he produced were enjoyable;

but going by the traditional definition of what [ I ] call a Hip-Hop DJ,

he’s not. He even created artwork and programmed some hot playlists,

but I said, “If you’re gonna call yourself a DJ, you gotta learn

how to deejay. You can’t be a DJ without knowing the basics behind the

art.  What if someone wants you to deejay at a party?” He didn’t

exactly understand what I was saying because he was following the format

of a mix-tape CD that he purchased and downloaded online.

 

These days, with the invention of iPods, computer programs and gadgets

that allow you to mix two MP3s, the sacred art of deejaying is being

totally overlooked by many young, aspiring DJs. Only vinyl existed when

I started spinnin’. CDs weren’t even in existence yet, just cassettes,

8 tracks, 45s, and 12 inch vinyl [records].  I come from an era of playing

12 inch records live on the air in a radio mix-show format, and spinning

vinyl at the club or at the infamous house parties and college parties,

back in the day. [By the way], big ups to Howard [University], Maryland

[University] and [University of Virginia] – good memories. But anyway,

back to these mix-tapes.  My question is, what happened to the mixing

on the mix-tapes? That’s why they were originally called mix-tapes,

because the DJs continuously mixed from one record to the next, and

kept the music going without interruption. 

 

In light of this, I began to think back on how I used to emulate the

techniques of Kool DJ Red Alert, Grandmaster Flash and the late Jam

Master Jay. In my eyes, these guys were turntable masters, and made

cuttin’, scratchin’, blendin’, and hypin’ the crowd a work of art. I

think some DJs simply don’t have a CD burning program that enables them

to put the ID points on their CDs unless they separate the songs. Back

when we were using cassette tapes, this wasn’t an issue because we just

kept recording until the tape came to a halt, and then we ejected it

and flipped it to side B. 

 

I know a lot of you want me to call names and put some DJs on front-street,

but that’s not the principal objective. I’ll let y’all do that in the

comment section below. The objective is to call-out the DJs who just

play songs, push buttons and actually think they’re deejaying.  Now I’m

not hatin’ or trying to knock your hustle, because the majority of you

are passionate about the music and just don’t know any better, like

my son.  Others are just trying to make some dough, legally, and really

enjoy rockin’ the party; which is cool too. At the end of the day, you

are getting the artists’ music heard by the people, thus expanding the

movement. [Still], my request to all aspiring DJs is to please research

and learn the fundamentals of deejaying, so you can acquire artistic

knowledge and inspire the succeeding generation. But my message to all

aspiring DJs is: If money is your primary incentive for doing this,

as opposed to the love of the music, the culture, and the art, quite

frankly, quit now because you’re not gonna last.

 

With all of that said, look out for my tutorials on the basics of deejaying

over the next few weeks.  Hopefully it can help educate those who aspire

to become legendary DJs and not just button pushers.

Check out a legend and pioneer rock a party!!!

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