Rhymefest Guest Blog: How to Pick a Show DJ
In the earliest days of hip hop, the DJ was the star of the show. He played the hits, made people dance, and occasionally grabbed the mic saying a rhyming word or two to amp the party up. Yes, the DJ was the original MC. I’m not old enough to say that I was around during this time to witness it, however, I know my hip-hop history. Over time, as rappers started to evolve and make hits that DJs would spin, the DJ would often call a rapper to the booth to do the MCing for him. It became so appealing to the audience that DJs would team up with rappers to release albums of their own. But make no mistake the DJ was still the star: Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five. DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince. Eric. B. and Rakim. Somewhere along this road, rappers began seeing that they could profit and make hits without the DJ. Perhaps it was due to corporate misunderstanding of the symbiotic relationship between the two (sorry, didn’t mean to go all big wordy on you). As the split of the rapper and the DJ took place, so went the definition of being an MC, for in my opinion, one can only be an MC with a live-ass DJ. The DJ plays the hits, the MC rocks the crowd. This is why there is definite difference between the terms rapper and MC.
So here we are in 2010. Rappers are rappers, DJs are DJs, and MCs barely exist. In fact, times have changed so much, that rappers find themselves in the position of picking DJs to tour with them. So now all DJs should play my single at least once, because I’m about to put you on game if you want to tour with a rapper.
1. You can’t just be a DJ, you have to return to the role of MCing that the rapper has long forgotten. Meaning, having a microphone at your station and a voice to fill it with. You have to be able to amp up the crowd with chants and music in anticipation of the artist.
2. Being able to stop whatever music you’re playing on a dime and adjust to the artist’s improvisation or the crowd’s temperament. Sometimes artists forget lyrics and it’ll be your job to help cue them up before the crowd takes notice. Also, how you drop a particular track is the difference between instant hands in the air or crickets.
3. Sound engineering and technical competence. Not all venues has a person that knows how to connect the machinery they rent for the DJ. It is your job to know which wire goes into which speaker. Also, to assist the sound engineer on the appropriate levels of volume for the environment your artist will be performing in.
I thank God for my show DJ - DJ Reddy Rock (@CoachRedd) who knows how to MC and DJ. You can definitely hire him in the off season. Also shout out to the DJ Premier, DJ Babu, DJ Enuff and all the other DJs who spin my records.