In the year 2019 Hiphop will be forty years old and throughout it’s storied evolution from the rapping and breakdancing to graffiti writing and beatboxing when it started on the corners of the Bronx on up to the Corporate record labels. There’s been one constant undeniable force through it all and that force is the DJ. To the average listener and party goers the DJ is just a person who play music, But the role of a DJ is very, very critical in the music industry. Not only the DJ play music, but he’s the silent backbone of the Emcee. Some DJs even have the influence to make or break your music career. Some DJs went on to become very successful in different areas of the industry. But they started off scratching those turntables.
In 1974, the Genesis of Hiphop there was no Emcees, no mics, no rhymes, just the DJ and his turntables. When DJ Kool Herc decided to take those Disco, Soul & Funk Records mix one breakdown with another one the old folks thought he lost his damn mind. But little did they know Kool Herc was creating a paradigm shift for a new generation of DJs called scratching & Breakmixing giving those R&B records that fresh edgy mixdown. Neighborhood kids started dancing to the break mixes and shortly afterwards they became known as the breakdancers. It was amazing to witness these breakdancers create some of the most incredible dance routines all to the breakbeat of the DJ. Then in ’77 the Cold Crush Brothers was the first Emcees to grab a mic and spit a rhyme to a beat done by a DJ. The DJs started something new, it was fresh, it was a revolution, it was Hiphop.
As Hiphop progressed into the 80s the artists started to evolve, the role of the DJs evolved with them. See nowadays when a rapper perform at a concert he got lights, power technics and special affects, but in the early days all the artist had was his mic, his DJ and a stack of wax. And the DJ was all the artist needed because the DJ was the driving force behind the performance. His job was to get the crowd hype and in good spirits while anticipating the rapper to make his grand entrance and mesmerize them with his killa flow. Sometimes the rapper would be gracious enough to let the DJ spit a rhyme or two, The DJ would come from behind his turntables grab the mic, spit about eight bars then go back behind his turntables. Another side of their evolution was that some of them started getting into production and created magnificent sounds for the artists even helped them with their image. For instance the late “Jam Master Jay” he never said anything, never whispered a rhyme. To the public he was just a DJ for RUN DMC, but behind the scenes he was the mastermind he had the idea for them to wear all black with the leather jackets. It was also his idea for them to wear Adidas with no shoelaces and it became a marketing phenomenon. “DJ READY REDD” of the Geto Boys he’s the musical enforcer for a reason, he shaped their sound on “Making Trouble” and “Grip It On The Other Level”. He was the first DJ to use samples from the Scarface movie before any other producer in the industry. Dr. Dre he started off as a DJ for the “World Class Wrecking Crew” then became one of the baddest producers to ever touch a mixing board. They all went on to do great things, but they was DJs first.
From the 80s on up to now some DJs can make or break your career, because they be the ones you have to take your music to in order to get played whether it be on the radio or in the club. You ask the DJ to hear your music and if he’s gracious enough to listen to it. If he shake his head yeah it’s gonna get played, if he shake his head no then you shit outta luck.But if he decide to play it for the club or the on radio the club crowd and the radio listeners will decide what should be done with it. Plus a lot of these DJs can be your gateway into the industry because they know the right hands to put it in. Or they can host your Mixtapes, the role of the DJ has come a long way from scratching on the corners to producing platinum selling albums. Bottomline without the DJ there’s no such thing as Hiphop, without the DJ there wouldn’t be no memorable houseparties or concerts and without the DJ the industry wouldn’t evolve the way it do. DJs aren’t the only factor in Hiphop,but they’re a major factor. Their role is just as important as the Executives, Managers, Agents and promotors. And far the club DJs they know their crowd. They know what a certain section of folks like and don’t like. So when you’re in the club and you hear your favorite song, then you jump us and say “Oh that’s my jam, it’s like he playing that song just for me”…you better believe he’s playing just for you. Shout out to “DJ Kool Herc” thanks for going against the grain creating a phenomenonal sound for our generation.