Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Another thing that killed Hip Hop: The DJ no longer being an integral part of a show.

Did I ever tell you that I've always wanted to be a DJ? Back when I lived in Naval Housing with my parents from 1979-83, me, my friends Kenny and Andre, and their little sister Nikki had a rap group and we called ourselves "Top of the line", or some such shit. Nikki had this Diana Ross thing going on since she wore one of her mother's nappy ass wigs, Kenny and Andre had a low budget Africa Bambattaa style to them looking like black village people members, and I was called "The camouflage Kid".(It was less about my love for camouflage, and more about that outfit being the only one in my wardrobe that didn't make me look like a complete fucking square.) I never had any aspirations to be an MC, all I wanted to do was be a part of a cool group that would result in me landing some pre-teen temptress on the business end of a dry humping session, and just act like the group's DJ.(Since all I was really doing was ruining records.) It was a short lived gig let me tell you, not that I wasn't fabulous at doing absolutely nothing(my lovers feel that I have perfected that art in bed.), but I was such a snob, even then, that I found myself taking over many of the rhyming duties because I felt that Kenny and Andre were seriously underachieving behind the microphone.(Only an arrogant asshole thinks that they are verbally leaps and bounds above other 7 year olds) Even though I was now the lead and garnered much of the attention(in our neighborhood), I would constantly find myself looking back at the turntables longingly like I was some schmo in a romantic movie with his eyes fixed on a lover's departing plane.

As time passed I realized the importance of the DJ, and even though I was trying to be the best wordsmith that I could be, sometimes I would find myself behind a friends turntables feeling guilty like a man getting ready to marry a woman when he has secretly been in love with her sister for as long as he could remember. As a person who is truly in love with the art-form, it gets me a little more upset than your average Hip Hop fan when some shit-stain conservative quickly dismisses the genre that I adore, knowing that if he/she was privy to hearing a good DJ, beat-juggling, transforming, what have you, it would make that miserable son of a bitch convert faster than Sammy Davis Junior after losing an eye.

Remember, in a time not too many years ago, where the DJ was an integral part of a Hip Hop performance. Sure, rappers have performed off of DAT's for years, but the groups who knew what was up always worked off of a DJ, having someone behind the ones and two's always made a performance just seem that much better. Do you remember when certain artists would give the DJ a song all to themselves on an album, immediately Public Enemy, 3rd Bass, and EPMD come to mind. It was like Hip Hop had grabbed the baton from James Brown and instead of giving the "Drummer some", the men behind the microphone gave the DJ his/her time to shine. Forget about a song where the DJ is aloud to flex his skills nowadays, you'd be hard pressed to see a DJ either be an important part of a stage show or an invaluable part of a Hip Hop group.

1 comment:

Big Ty said...

Great article. I remember when the DJ was an important facet of hip hop, especially among Black groups. Now, you see rock and roll groups using DJs more than hip hop groups... and seeing the documentary "Scratch" let me know how far we've strayed from the importance of the DJ... unless it's some mix-tape idiot whose only skill seems to be yelling his own name every 38 seconds.