Know Your History: Episode 3 – The DJ

Welcome to Know Your History,  your monthly dose of hip-hop knowledge. This is the place where we get to celebrate all that is the rich, cultural history of hip-hop. This is the transcript of the monthly radio segment for DOPEfm. You can download the podcast of this show for free and listen along as you read.

I hope you’ve been with us for the first two segments so far because we’ve covered a lot of ground. In the first episode, we talked about how hip-hop is indeed a culture and a way of life for those who are participating and contributing to it. In the second episode, we dealt with the four elements that comprise hip-hop culture. We discussed how some people might think there are more than four but how those four are the foundation of what built hip-hop.

Today, I want to dive deeper into the original element, the one that birthed hip-hop culture, and I hope that you know what it is before I even say it. Hip-hop started with the DJ. That’s right. It wasn’t always about the MC. It was more about the DJ and I want to talk about that in detail today in this half hour.

I can’t think of a better track to start of with than this one. It’s DJ Revolution featuring Krs-One, it’s called the DJ. We’re going to drop the track and talk about it when we come back. Stay tuned.

That is such an awesome track. Krs-One really drops the knowledge on there and I think that’s why he’s known as ‘the teacher’ in hip-hop. He really breaks down what the art of modern DJing is all about, not so much about the history that DJs started this culture. He does talk about the breaks, break beats that we will talk about later. He talks about classic samples and loops and we’ll get into that a little later as well.

I like how he says, “The beats in the street and you’ve been elected to carry the tradition of records being selected.” In other words, DJs really control the crowd and they should be picking the music and hyping up the crowd.

He talks about 10 things that DJs should have. It’s pretty interesting that Number 1 is that the DJ is not an iPod or jukebox so don’t make a request, you’ve come to see the DJ, it’s not about you, it’s about the DJ hyping up the crowd.

He also tells us to be selective. If you’re a DJ, don’t just play anything. Play what you like. Play what you’re bumping in your ride, make sure you play that on the station, and make sure you play music that you love. Key points right there. I think DJs really need to do that because there is too much stuff on the radio right now that I don’t think DJs like. They’re handcuffed and they kind of need to play that for certain reasons. There’s playlists and things that need to be followed.

Real hip-hop DJs and the ones on underground stations like this and college radio are the ones who are keeping it alive. DJs in the club that are playing real hip-hop and stuff that they like are the ones who are keeping this alive and what this culture is about.

I like Number 6 on his list too, “cutting and scratching is like seasoning when you use it,” like it just gives it that extra flavour. I don’t want to hear deejays just mix. I want to hear some cutting and scratching but like he says, don’t overdo it, people want to hear the music.

Turntablism is when you take the turntable and you turn it into an instrument and you do some really wild and crazy stuff with that. But for the most part, when people think of DJs, the think of the DJs playing the music and hyping up the crowd. And when you do that, a little bit of cutting and scratching is good but make sure you don’t go overboard.

Also, don’t quit once you start your set, don’t shout over the lyrics, of course that’s a major faux pas. You shouldn’t shout your name all over the tracks. Come on deejays, stop doing that, please!

So I hope he schooled some wannabe DJs out there or some DJs who are doing some of those things that don’t quite follow with hip-hop tradition. And, of course, his last point in the top ten is “find an emcee,” one that you really connect with because as he says, “DJing and MCing together is hip-hop’s true fusion.”

Nice points, very nice points from a great song. Gotta really give it up to Krs-one and DJ Revolution fro coming through there. I like at the end there when Krs-one stays, “Stand up for the culture” because we need to remember that this is not a business. I mean sure, hip-hop creates a lot of wealth for a lot of people and it is part of the music industry, but we have to remember that hip-hop is a culture and that we transcend the music industry. Please don’t forget that.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of the show tomorrow. If you can’t wait until then, please download the show for free right now so you can listen to the whole thing.

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