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The DJ Is Dead, Says Jermaine Dupri

Spotted over at

In this video, Jermaine Dupri says:

“The DJ is dead at this point and time now. Because the DJ used to be like the person when you’re running track, and you pass the baton, and the person that grab it, they keep running. Now when you running and put the baton out there, the nigga that’s a DJ, he grab the baton and he bump into you, cause he’s trying to run the other direction… When you pass them a CD, they handing you a CD. The attention level ain’t even the same…. the DJs are no longer focused on helping the way that they used to help, so that means the DJ’s dead.”

This guy Jermaine, he may be on to something.

In lieu of what’s been going on the past week or so with this whole Lil Wayne vs. the mixtape DJs fiasco, Jermaine’s saying that DJs are essentially worthless. You’ve got to keep in mind that JD’s an executive, and his goal at that level is to have his artist’s records played, and to sell albums. I think the point he’s making in this video is that people in the music industry, particularly DJs, need to know their role. If you’re a DJ and you interact with the music business, you’re job to is play the records that you’re given, not be trying to solicit your own music back to the label and get your own situation popping. Which is pretty selfish thinking on the part of the labels. I mean, the relationship between the label and DJ back in the day used to be pretty one-sided.

But this is the DIY era we’re living in, and in hip-hop we’ve promoted the entrepreneurial spirit so much that it’s almost insane to think that a DJ should just stand there and play whatever it is you’re giving them without them trying to get their own shit cracking. Add to that the fact that most major label shit just flat out sucks and you’ve got a problem on your hand. You’re asking DJs to play wack shit. And then on top of that you’re not embracing their own little movement, so of course they’re going to run the other way with the baton, because the one you’re handing them is all bent and broken. They got their own baton that is much better, or at least they think so.

Which brings me to this whole Lil Wayne thing. Lil Wayne should be embracing DJs, not shitting on them. They’ve largely made him who he is today, but at the same time, Nah they really haven’t. It’s not like The Empire went in the studio and wrote Lil Wayne’s rhymes. They didn’t make those beats, and they didn’t put those songs together. Sure, they put those mixtapes out, but once a CD is pressed and ready to go, the DJ has as much incentive to sell them shits as anyone else. The quality of Wayne’s material is what drove these mixtapes to become classics. Whether that was The Empire, DJ Drama, or DJ Whatever The Fuck, that material was going to be incredible regardless. It doesn’t matter what DJs name got top billing on the CD cover. Wayne’s music made your product hot, bottom line. Not vice versa. The process of becoming great starts and ends with Wayne himself. No matter what DJ Drama did, he couldn’t make Dedication II hot if Wayne was wack on it. He can sit by the sidelines and play coach, but Phil Jackson is not winning without Kobe Bryant.

And that takes us back to what JD was saying, which is that the DJ is dead. And you can see from the Wayne example that the DJ is clearly not dead at all. The DJ will take the baton and run with it if the talent is actually there. You give the DJ something hot to play and the DJ will play it. Give the DJ some bullshit, and he’s going to drop the baton every time. It’s not because he’s lazy or he doesn’t want to play your records, it’s that you’re insulting him by asking him to play crap. Make great music and it will be embraced.

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