Books: “The Scratch DJ Academy Guide” (St. Martin’s)

“The

emphasis is now on the DJ and his performance as the leader of the

dance,” Tony McGuinness, contemplative Trance

DJ-turned-scratchonomic-seigneur acknowledges in the chapter, “The

Influence of the DJ” of On The Record. “This is an idea that goes back

to prehistoric times; there’s always been a figure in society who leads

a mass dance. For me now, it has become much more of a performance.”Since

Hip-Hop’s birth over thirty years ago, the role of the DJ has

transcended that distinction: Today’s DJ is no longer the leader of the

dance, but the dance itself. If he does not play right logarithm of

records—including the necessary blending, scratching, and microphone

interjections to go with it—the sacred life of the party is lost.According

to writers Luke Crissell and Phil White, who have shared leaf in the

ultra hip mag Nylon and both boast major bylines galore, and Phil

White, founder of the Scratch DJ Academy, the ability to DJ is a

dexterous but teachable art. Yet, as On The Record so clearly stresses,

it is an art that requires an appreciative awareness of the cultural

movements that define it in addition to the actual practice of the

craft. And that awareness gives DJing its holism, which today’s top DJs

like Craze, Sasha, Yoda, AM, and others elaborate on through various

advice, lessons, and reflections, prepping aspiring DJ’s just as much

for life away from the turntables as on them.As in the book The

Art of Emceeing, in which Dead Prez’s Stic.Man divulges the

step-by-step mechanic of rapping, On the Record breaks down the ones

and twos of disc jockeying. “There are so many different options for

DJs these days—they use vinyl, Serato, Ableton, CD decks,” DJ Yoda

comments on the revolutionizing of DJ equipment in the chapter “DJ

101,” “But I think that it’s important to get used to working with

vinyl first. It’s crucial to have that basis, because the new

technology just emulates two turntables and a mixer.” The chapter goes

on to break down the art of scratching, beat matching, fading, and

building a set.Sure, DJing is a skill that does not need a

manual as much as it needs lived experience, but the folks at The

Stratch DJ Academy remind us that there is unspeakable value in the

written experience of world-renowned DJ’s. In that sense, On The Record

is not an alternative way of learning to DJ, but a companion to the

very process itself.

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