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EXCLUSIVE: Sway Calloway Says EDM DJs Can’t Do What Hip Hop DJs Do + Talks Global Spin Awards

(AllHipHop News) Today (November 18th), the international community of the DJ culture will preside at New York Times Center in Manhattan for the 2013 Global Spin Awards. At September’s press conference to announce the nominees for this years Global Spin Awards, the show’s host, Sway Calloway gave an EXCLUSIVE interview with AllHipHop discussing the evolution of the DJ culture, new ways of branding and compares EDM DJ’s to Hip Hop DJs.

In the early 2000’s, Young Jeezy, Lil Wayne and a litany of other MCs would attest that DJ-hosted mixtapes were integral in their eventual rise to rap superstardom. However, in the past five years, punctuated by the metoric rise of Drake’s So Far Gone, the DJ is no longer an essential piece in making a mixtape successful. Sway spoke on this change but hinted that award shows like Global Spin Awards and the recent rise of EDM as proof that DJs are regaining their spot at the top of music relevancy:

What happened was the DJ used to be the most important figure in Hip Hop. The dancer, the graf writer and the writer all kind of came behind the DJ. The DJ controlled the party. The rapper, the MC, was the guy that kept people hype. But when the rap business invaded the culture, the rapper became the front guy. In the process, the business did not care about the DJ, they cared about the front guy and who they can profit from. Who is the guy in the gold chain. Who was the guy who controlled the mic. That was the person that was in the video more so than the DJ.

Further delving into the evolution of Dj’ing, Sway spoke on how the human element of a DJ will always trump the convenience of internet-curated playlist generators such as Pandora:

I think people are realizing that it’s imperative that the DJ is apart of this process. Even as powerful as the internet has become, you still need the DJ. To really influence the audience. The internet has become a strong tool similar to a DJ. But you not going to turn on the internet when you go to a party. [Laughs] You not going to log on to Pandora when you at the party. So we’ve seen a lot of the evolution.

EDM DJ, Calvin Harris was the highest paid DJ of the past year, raking in $46 million with a reported $200,000 per show earning. While EDM DJs have skyrocketed into being the most sought after DJs in America over the past three years, Sway believes the skill set of a Hip Hop DJ still trumps that of a traditional EDM DJ:

When I was growing up, you had to spin all genres. Whether it was soul, whether it was dance, hip hop, polka, pop, whatever. [DJ] Scratch could spin on any platform. You could take him to those EDM parties. Dance music is the easiest  music to mix in my opinion, the BPMs are all the same, the melodies are all the same, the chords are all the same. They can kill that. But you cant take an EDM DJ and bring him to a Hip Hop party and expect him to kill it. There’s a lot of guys who do both but chances are they wouldn’t be able to do it.

The Global Spin Awards is tonight (November 18th). Check out the trailer for the event below:

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  • Sean Power

    your options is wrong i bet more EDM dj can streach better than lot hiphop most EMd dj started with hiphop but move for better money

    • DeeJay Babe

      Nahhhhhhh most EDM DJs can’t spin for shit.. some are not even real DJs, moreso producers.. I’d love to see Skrillex, Calvin Harris, Aviici, Deadmau5 & David Guetta spin a Hip Hop set.. I’d bet money they’d be lost..
      I’ve been around a lot of them, they’re not great DJs in the sense of skill wise, I’m not hating on them because I’m trying to work my magic to get the money they’re getting

      • DJ7

        Your assessment is spot on…and so is Sway’s….The $$ is definitely attractive b.u.t. it almost feels like cheating spinning that sh*t…A few turn of the knobs here, bass drop out there and presto….As for the cat above talking about stretching a track better….with simple programs such as ableton (which allows any you to record all of your tracks @ the same bpm) and serato (endless looping capabilities) add one of those toy looking controllers and bam…you’re a DJ now

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  • sway speaking the truth with this one…anyone whos been on vinyl tables longer than a year & spin rap will agree..i been around alot of EDM dj’s and they heavily rely on technology to make up for the lack of skill….two songs same bpm you can mix it at any point of the record and itll mix perfect, fade song out, repeat process…the creativity is not there. but this should be a bigger topic based on technology taking over the ‘old fashioned’ DJ… i remember when serato dropped alot of vinyl djs were hating….because you didnt have to crate dig..you didnt have to match bpms manually etc…

    but back on topic, i agree..for the most part EDM DJ’s are trash..my girls brother plays EDM and hes one of the weakest DJ’s ive heard…hes nice with the technology and mixing the new music toy into his set somehow but give him two tables a mic and a mixer and hes gonna get booed…give me all his technology and ill be making beats on the spot….doing shit that has dude goin ‘how did you do that? this is my machine and i dont even know how to do that!” cuz you dont have any background in how to be ill…..hip hop djs worked hard to become ill…..it didnt come with a package and a sampler and a few synthesizers..

    edm djs move their hands and bob their heads to appear busy… they have nothing to do while mixing so they have to ghost-touch a few extra buttons to make it look like theyre working hard at something…hip hop djs are constantly working on the set in the headphones before you hear it….if youre old school like me you match BPM with headphones not a digital tempo reader…but this convo is a huge one and id be here all night. EDM dj’s are weak and cant even see a talented hip hop DJ on his worse night. chuch.

    this post has been brought to you by 2mg’s of ativan, 5 percocets and a kush blunt

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  • Terrance Lee

    I think Sway was being a little unfair just by mentioning a modern day act like Calvin Harris and yet doesn’t mention any EDM acts of yesteryear. Because I’m pretty sure people like Kevin Saunderson, Goldie, Tony Faline, DJ Baby Anne or A Guy Called Gerald didn’t have all that fangled technology to make names for themselves, all they really had was vinyl, decks and a mixer just like their hip-hop counterparts. Also not all EDM runs at same BPM some genres run faster than others such as Drum & Bass clocking in at 160 to 180 BPM while Dubstep on the other hand clocks in at a mere 140 BPM.

  • Anthon Burgos

    everyone knows that not much skill is really needed to be an EDM dj but have in mind that these DJs are actually producers, but since they don’t sing or dance, just playing their tracks to crowds is they’re way to perform and make money instead of just selling their music on iTunes or whatever.

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