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The 21st Century DJ

Updated on January 27, 2015

The Capabilities of the Modern DJ Have Become 'Virtually' Limitless

Weapons for Modern Warfare

Pictured above is the Numark NS7II @Numark which is one of the greatest DJ software controller platforms available today. Packed with powered turntables, moving, touch sensitive vinyl platter covers, state of the art magnetic cross fader, and a host of features enables the 21st Century DJ with the ability to go just about as far as the imagination may take them!

Virtual Turntablism Is Here!!

In and around the early 1980s, Hip Hop was birthed in America. As we all know, Turntablism was introduced as what is now known or accepted as one of the nine elements of Hip Hop. During this time, there came a distinction between regular Disc Jockeying and actual DJing. Disc Jockeys, played records however, DJs "cut" (scratched) records. Nonetheless, many of the more seasoned DJs who witnessed this art form in its infancy, can attest to the fact that back then, many DJs probably "cut their teeth" as it were, using the crudest of tools. Remember the 12 inch vinyls and automatic record players with pennies taped on the head shell? I can personally remember using the volume knob on a stereo receiver to mask the backspin while cutting the record. As time went on of course, standardized mixers hit the scene and the immortal Technique 1200s stormed the market. Now, I can distinctly remember one particular DJ out of Detroit, MI, who went by the name of "The Wizard". Every weekend me and a few friends would listen to his live shows. This DJ was a true Turntablist, whose skills rivaled that of "The Magnificent DJ Jazzy Jeff" @djjazzyjeff215 "DJ Bobcat" @DJBOBCAT and the like. We somewhat patterned ourselves after these DJs and made it a priority to hone our skills in ambitions to be the best. This was a time where Hip Hop was considered to be a phase that would die out eventually, but years later, it is yet here, stronger than ever and I must say for the DJ, probably more exciting than ever!

"The Changing of the Guard"

The art of turntablism, was always centered around the DJ taking a part of a particular song; whether that was a break down, kick or snare, the DJ would manipulate that particular sequence and create a new pattern as the M.C. proceeded to "Emcee". This is known as a break beat. Of course this technique was extremely limited however, a skilled DJ could combine sequences, phrases or other sounds of choice that would still captivate the audience and bring another level of uniqueness to an overall track or live performance. Now, no matter how captivating the DJ proved to be, once the performance was over, the DJ would have to police up all of those crates of records and those clunky turntables, pack it all up and journey back home.

Today, a "crate" is a term for a digital file folder that exists inside of a particular brand of DJ software, as those old school vinyls can now be replaced by MP3s, Wave and AIFF files. Today a DJ can own a one Terabyte hard drive; which weighs less than a lb., that is able to maintain thousands of music files. What does that mean? Lets try, speed and portability, and how about preserved sound quality? You're not going to cue up a digital file and hear those pops and clicks like you would with those vinyls.

Now, what about those live performances, where the DJ slices in a breakbeat, or rubs in a kick and snare? My friend, today a full fledged arsenal of weapons rests at the finger tips of the modern DJ. Imagine a mad scientist throwing an MPC, Technique 1200, a mixer and a few choice pieces of I.T. gear into a pot. A light show would start as he announces "its alive!, its alive!!" and pulls out an NS7II. Dr Frankenstein would morph into a 21st Century DJ, absolutely thrashing a Hip Hop, Dub Step or EDM track. Egor would morph into a crowd of enthusiastic party goers who's enjoying the performance of a lifetime, somewhat signifying the fact that the art of DJing has truly arrived!

"To Infinity.....

There are many tools available for DJs to choose from these days. Although technology has been integrated, it does not negate the fact that DJing is still about skill and creativity. If you are a DJ, or aspiring to be one, it should be understood that the technology only expands your personal capability. If you could not handle analog tables, chances are you are not going to handle digital tables. Now contra-wise, if you were a killer on the analogues, I guarantee you are going to be a killer on the digitals. If you have a knack for beat production and an expanded music palate why not streamline your arsenal into one hybrid weapon? For instance, "Rambo" was a bad man, but do you think he could stand up against Robocop? So take your best DJ throughout history and put him on a mixer and two 1200s. Then put that same DJ on a platform like the NS7II! I guarantee that you would be in for a special treat. Well, as a music enthusiast and DJ hobbyist, I simply must say that this is indeed an exciting time for me. Rocking the crowd has never been more pleasurable, and seeking new frontiers has never been as captivating as they are now. Check out the following video and you will see what I am talking about. People the 21st Century DJ is here!!

Some DJ Trivia

Who was the first DJ to amalgamate Turntables, Synthesizers, Drum Machines, and Mac Computers in his music production?

See results

And beyond"

So what's next? The choice is really up to you. Are you holding on to your vinyl and analogue tables? It's ok, you are entitled to do so, and please, do so with pride. I only encourage you to stay true to the craft. Are you stepping out of the "old school" paradigm? I cannot blame you. Regardless as to the weapons you choose to use, lets use them to continue to spread love and foster good times for we know, that is what we will need in this 21st Century!

Until next time....Rock Out!!!

~PB

Afrika Bambaataa

Notables

Labels
Genres
Acts
Tommy Boy Records
Hip Hop
Soulsonic Force
EMI
Electro
James Brown
Capital Records
Electro House
Bootsie Collins

DJ Mantronix

Notables

Label
Genre
Acts
Sleeping Bag Records
Hip Hop
MC Tee
Capital/ EMI
Electro
D.J. D
Virgin/ EMI
New Jack Swing
T-La Rock

Zedd

Notables

Label
Genre
Ocuupation
Interscope
Electronic
DJ
Dim Mak Records
 
Producer
OWSLA
 
Musician

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