05 Apr Is the DJ Still Relevant? pt 2 (Club DJ)
As u may remember, if u follow my editorial, a few months ago I wrote a piece detailing some of the trials and tribulations we face as touring DJs. I noted the fact that 20 years ago the DJ was not only a necessity for the rapper but his name was often in the title of the group. Even if you weren’t even alive in the 80’s you know that Jam Master Jay(RIP) was Run DMC’s DJ and that DJ Jazzy Jeff held down the tables while The Fresh Prince(aka Will Smith) rocked the mic. Fast forward 2 decades we are all but extinct in the concert halls and arenas throughout the country. The club really is no different in the lack of respect shown to my craft. I’ve seen clubs that have the nerve to run mix cds throughout the night. But it al comes down to what I said in my 1st piece. RESPECT! But unlike the tour DJ The club jocks problems are three fold in terms of respect.
The DJ has historically held the position of minister of music in clubs worldwide. Some of the best and most long standing clubs thrive based on the DJ. I know personally I like to know who the DJ is before I venture to any club but the more I talk to other people I find this attitude is less popular than ever. The lack of respect by 3 different parties is what causes this rift in the matrix. It seems as tho the club owners have zero respect for the work we put in for nightly. But when you look at it, the climate of clubbing has changed from patrons dancing and sweating to the music to everybody standing around playing on their blackberries and iphones trying to look important. Don’t get me wrong I love and utilize facebook and twitter as much if not more than the next person but what sense does it make to even come out to the club if all your going to do is converse with people online. Coulda stayed home and did that shit! So the party goers show a complete lack of respect for the environment they’re in. People are so busy networking that they don’t have time to dance.This is probably one of the reasons club owners think less of the DJ. If I own club full of people standing around NOT dancing, the first thing I would think is the music is the problem. I’ve been in this situation several times myself. I’m spinnin and a club full of wannabes who are texting and tweeting, next thing I know the owner or promoter comes to the booth and tells me ‘play something to make em dance.’ Even though I know the music’s not the problem, I sarcastically ask him to name a song. He says play some Drake. I play ‘Fancy’. A few of the ladies start bobbing their heads but they still don’t raise their heads from the phone to make their way to the floor. This whole scenario is so irritating it almost gives me a headach just thinking about it. But what can I do. The environment and mindset of the people are not designed for party so I merely become backgroung music for fake conversations by wanna be producers rappers and models.(Sidebar) please stop telling people you hold any of these 3 positions if you’re not actually getting a check for it. Having Pro tool does not make you a producer or a rapper. And ladies, being cute does not automatically qualify you for model status. Its kinda like me saying I play football simply because I got a Cowboys jersey on.
I’m a realist though and I’m not too blind and cocky to admit that part of the problem is also us as DJs. I constantly see DJS putting in half ass work, doing sloppy blends and cutting corners on the work ethic. This makes all of us look bad and extremely expendable. Part of the reason club owners think we don’t do shit but push buttons is because that’s all some djs do. No blending, no tempo matching and a complete lack of knowledge of what to play and how to play it. When you hire a mechanic or plumber to do a repair they are pretty much using the same tools they would have in the 1950’s. So even if they’re only actually using 1 wrench to do the repair, the tool box they carry and the grunting sounds they make gives the appearance that they are workin1g hard. Technology has made a lot of us seasoned DJ’s lazy and for a large percentage of the newbies it creates a feeling of entitlement. What I mean is they feel like they don’t need to practice and acquire skills. The laptop does all the work for you. A lot of us used to have to go to the record stores and search through rows and piles of records to find what we were going to play in our set that weekend. That’s kind of what made it a show for the crowd. The pride taken and work put in prior to the party meant everything. Now all it takes is having a decent laptop, a free down load of Traktor Scratch software and your existing itunes collection and Bam! You’ve got a DJ. And of course for a majority of them since they never put in massive amounts time work and money, they don’t require much in payment. I used to spend $50-$80 every Friday at earwax in Atlanta so of course im not going to spin a party Friday night for $150. But most of the music we as DJ’s get now is free so its easy to give away something you didn’t pay for in the first place. There is no standard or minimums in what we do. Kinda sad but I fully realize the reason the promoter feels comfortable offering me $150 to DJ is because somebody else accepted it from him before.
The death of the club can be blamed on 3 parties: The DJ, The Promoter and the club goers. Overall I would really love to blame technology for this 1. Why? The computers we use have brought down the quality of the DJ thus the phones in the clubbers hands has far more interesting shit going on than the club. Plus the club owner can get a computer and cue up his music library or play mixes he downloaded from the web. But I can’t hate on technology. Without it I’d still be carrying 6 crates of records to every gig and at this point, my knees cant take it.lol