Monday, November 8, 2010

Technology Kills II: To DJ or Not DJ

One week ago today, I was tuned in to Beatminerz Radio and caught DJ Evil Dee of Black Moon doing his thing by blending some classic breaks and throwing in a few acapellas to blend in as well. Next up on the decks was DJ Wayne-Ski with his lovely hostess Jessica, who both do a weekly called Independent's Day where Wayne-Ski spins a good selection of indie artists. An extra added bonus to the show was to see the legendary DJ/Producer/MC Pete Rock take over the wheels for about 3 hours and spin many of his classics like he had a vengeance to bring the art of true Hip-Hop back. All four displayed to all who tuned in that Hip-Hop is far from dead, especially with the art of the Hip-Hop DJ. I, for one, can lead by example from the countless hours of digging for records, practicing my craft, creating my own style of spinning and to get good enough to participate in DJ battles and tour with many Hip-Hop and Dancehall acts.

In my previous post, Technology Kills...Sometimes, I wrote about how new technology is taking away from the artform of DJing by those who are closet "DJ's" that don't take the time and to practice as many veterans do. This flood of non-professionals are nothing more than like a jukebox you pop a few dollars into. They have no personality to hype the crowd, poor selection and barely know how to use the cheap gadgets or software they bought (or downloaded) to attempt to do the job of a pro.

Lately there's a new trend happening that's a newer threat to professionals. It's the "celebrity DJ". These well known folks are no better than the non-professionals who buy the gadgets and software. Seems to me that they call up the real DJ's who are already well known (from hard work to get where they are on merit and skill) to get a few tips or just watch a tutorial video to get the basics of using a mixer, go buy equipment, then you have the managers of these celebs calling clubs to book them. In many cases this trend helps to phase out those who have been doing it for so long and have paid dues. One young lady who just started spinning a couple of months ago is the subject of quite a few people on other blogs who are asking if she can really DJ. Of course, there's gonna be one die hard fan of this celeb who will say that they have seen them and they did the job well. Is it just the person commenting is star struck or can they actually grade a DJ on skill? The pics I saw on this young lady had not one pic of her actually touching the Serato control records. All she did was touch the cue buttons on both the laptop and mixer, load up a few songs and looked confused. Those same blogs mentioned how she kept going back to Aaliyah tunes as if she had no direction to really go or attempt to take the people listening. The crowd also looked to not be paying attention to her, nor did it look like the spot was packed, even with her celeb status.

Curiosity Killed The Cat & The DJ

I was browsing YouTube for a series of videos produced and written by DJ Ali:On The Air and stumbled upon some joke of a video of this chick claiming to be the first "iPad DJ". I nearly puked after watching about 3 minutes of this 17 minute video of some dim light going on about the equipment she has and genres of electronic music, when she clearly has no clue as to what she was talking about. Then for her to go on as if a real DJ is crazy to spend money on CD players or turntables and other gear to help execute your craft more effectively. Her set up was 2 iPads, a $100 mixer and an interface connected to a laptop. The tracks she played were preloaded demo loops in some type of low end production programs. Naturally, I humored myself to see what her reasoning is to do what she's doing, and it turns out that it's all an experiment...of some sort. What I thought was more of a joke is to see her site called "Destroy The Silence" and all the media coverage she seems to be attracting. Then again, train wrecks do get mentioned in news.

Some may argue that i'm hating, as well as many other DJ's who have the same feelings and opinions. Those who accuse another of hating have to look at this like you would any other art or even how an everyday job is done. You wouldn't want a person working in your restaurant or in your own kitchen attempting to cook something when they don't know how, right? Furthermore, if they did try to make something, would you want to eat it? A couple of comments on Youtube under the train wreck video read..."No DJ" and "D.J. MEANS: DISC JOCKEY!!! IF YOU AIN'T JOCKIN' DISCS YOU AIN'T A DJ.... IT IS LITERALLY IMPOSSIBLE TO NOT BE JOCKIN' DISCS AND BE A D.J." On the other hand, there are some who use discs that do this thing called "slamming". Slamming is where a person who's attempting to DJ starts the next record from the downbeat without blending it with the previous song. Sort of the same effect you see in movies when they change to the next scene. Some don't match the tempos or BPM, some may get close.

As mentioned earlier, there is a series of videos who are talking about these people who try to call themselves DJ's. The concept is on point and pretty hilarious. If you're still not sure of how a DJ feels, just check out the videos below to see where we're coming from.

*Note* After posting this, I ran across a few short videos of several "celeb DJ's" who can't cut the mustard with a razor sharp samurai sword. And the celeb I was referring to does the slamming thing.