The truth about DJs in the Hip-hop world
In 2017, the role of a DJ (Disc Jockey) has inherited more responsibilities and evolved a great deal since the 70’s. Back then DJs were the ones everyone wanted to see while the MC (Master of Ceremonies) added on to the experience the DJ created. There was a mystique to the role that technology has since stripped away. Record labels craving profits pushed MC’s into the spotlight while the DJ’s faded into the background. Lately, however, it seems that DJs have begun pushing their way back to the surface as their popularity in the public continues to rise.
DJs Play A Bigger Role
This is mainly due to the increased role DJs are playing in the music industry. Earlier this year Metro Boomin, whose beats have become the sound of Atlanta, was awarded the best songwriter of Q1 for 2017. DJ Khaled who for years have been making hits by putting together different sounds and artist just scored back to back number ones on the Billboard charts. DJ Esco is Futures full-time DJ and A&R for his projects. We are now seeing DJs who cross into the rapper lane like Dj Luke Nasty, whose debut single “Might Be” spent three weeks at number one on Rap Airplay.
Up start DJs like DJ Kam Bennett and DJ B Eazy have already begun diversifying themselves from the prototypical DJ. Bennett has been pegged as having an exceptional business mind having secured investments from business owners to change the way hip-hop promotion operates in Minnesota. Eazy, on the other hand, has tasked himself with building up the music scene in North Carolina, with his New Carolina movement. He hopes to bring attention to artist from the state who has had little representation in the music industry.
The New Stars
As talent seems to evaporate from the rap end of hip-hop, the future stars could once again be the less jaded DJs. As MC’s have grown accustomed to fame with seemingly minimal effort, it’s the DJs who have become progressively more talented. In reality, the DJ is the foundation of hip-hop culture, originating in the ghetto’s of New York to “rock the house” in the 70’s. It looks like these artists are on the verge of reclaiming the spotlight. The best part of their ascension is that it is organic. Major labels aren’t pushing an agenda for these guys, they are doing it on their own. Most of these DJs are working independently using talent and business prowess to create and sustain a thriving career.
Yes, the DJ is back on the rise but not without facing some criticism. Snoop Dogg speaks on his issues with DJs when it came to his Coolaid album.
“I think it was so much repetition in records when my record came out, that everything sounded the same and this was a record that didn’t sound that same so it was not in the same vein,” he says. “So a lot of DJs wouldn’t take that chance and say, ‘Well, I’ma play this Snoop Dogg record because I know it’s dope and it’s fly.’ [They would say,] ‘I can’t play it because it don’t go with everything in the club that’s doing this [*dabs and cooks*] and the same rap styles.’ It’s not doing that. Snoop’s shit is here and there, but a real DJ would know how to move and groove. Not saying these youngstas aren’t real DJs, but I’m watching. And when you come from the origins of Hip Hop, you respect the foundation and the foundation is dope. It feels good.”
There was a time when DJs “broke” records and some still might. But the power of the internet has made that aspect of the Dj’s job obsolete. As streaming becomes more popular, any song can be heard by just about anyone at anytime. Besides, is the club really the place to try out the new Snoop track? Many DJs drop mixtapes still loaded with dope tracks from various artists. I’ve personally found many new songs this way. However, could DJs be doing more to promote diversity in Hip-Hop? Get the conversation started and leave a comment below.