12 Jan Is the DJ Still Relevant? pt 1(Tour DJ)
The other day I had the pleasure of checking out a documentary called ‘Diary of a Mad DJ’ by my homie DJ Nabs and the title made me instantly ask, are seasoned spin doctors like myself “mad” at the current state of DJing? As with everything in society things change. From hair and clothing styles to minimum wage, there is a noticeable evolution in all facets of our lives. But when I look at the evolution of the tour DJ it calls into question weather or not we’re as relevant as we once were.
As veteran mixologist we could be very easy to be upset when you consider the history of the DJ in respect to the artist 20 yrs ago vs. now. Back then the DJ was so important his name was part of the acts name. ex DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince or Pete Rock and CL Smooth. And no one can deny the fact that DJ Premiers role in the rise of Gangstar was just as important as Guru’s. Back then you knew who everybody’s DJ was and their presence was felt in the live performance as well as on the album. Fast forward to today and I dare anybody to tell me TI’s DJs name. (Answer: It used to be Drama now its MLK but I only know that cause I’m friends with MLK. The average person doesn’t know OR CARE) Truth is artist change DJ’s like underwear and most have very little or no working relationship with the DJ. The rapper simply tells you the order to play the songs and the DJ cues it up on the CD players. Zero interaction between the 2 unless the DJ messes up. Then, as I’ve seen on several occasions, the artist will go out of his way 2 talk funky to the DJ for messing up the show. The refusal to acknowledge what the DJ is bringing to the table is the primary reason for this disrespectful behavior. He then becomes expendable because ‘all he’s doing is pushing buttons.’ This status doesn’t improve much when it comes 2 the club DJ, which I will cover next time in pt 2 of this expose.
Interesting thing about me being a Gemini is that I’ve always had a knack for looking at situations from multiple angles so for this conversation I won’t use the ‘its everybody else’s fault’ excuse. I think the problem has a lot to do with the artist, but lazy button pushing, no talent DJs are also to blame. True a lot of artists are unaware of the excitement and added value a quality DJ can bring to their set. I’ve seen the interaction between Cut Creator and LL, Mr Mixx and The 2 Live crew, and Jam Master Jay(RIP) and Run DMC. The show is taken to another level because you’re not just getting the songs you love yelled at you, live remixes are taking place right in front of your eyes. You leave the venue with a sense that you were a part of the show. This is what’s missing from shows today. I went to the Jay Z show recently and it was a cool show but I think I liked the songs he performed more than the actual performance and lets be honest I’ve got all his CDs. I can listen to the songs at my crib for free. But as a stated a few sentences ago blame doesn’t lie solely n the artist. Most DJs don’t possess of choose to illustrate their skills therefore their true worth, if it exist, is never realized. The major reason so many ‘tour djs’ are only pushing buttons is because they lack skill and that’s all their good for. Sorry to bust u out sucka DJs but it’s a fact! People treat u like you aint shit because well, U aint shit! If you embrace your craft, study the originators, who are still working I might add, and apply the aforementioned traits, you then force the artist to respect your actual work. This is provided your dealing with an artist that’s done the same homework. It’s a tough situation to navigate because both parties must have the talent and drive to put a successful show together. One of my close DJ friends who has the skills, was working with a act that refused to get with him beforehand and put a real show together. My DJ friend is still working while the act is sitting at home now wondering where their career went.
Bottom line, the problem is based on 2 parties not wanting to give 100% for the sake of the consumer, which I can tell you from an audience standpoint, sucks. I, on a daily basis encourage all of my DJing comrades to give there all and go the extra mile because we are indeed being replaced by button pushing Mac Book Pro owning losers (No diss to Apple)lol Yes artist need to respect the DJs but DJ’s need to respect themselves, the culture and art of being behind an artist on stage enough to deliver that value to the live show. But hey that’s just my opinion….Peace
>>This blog was originally posted in April of 2011 on my other site<<