The Thing About Hip-Hop DJs…

Ah yes, fresh from my week and a half long jaunt in Hollywood, I happened to come across this hilarious post at what could be the funniest site I’ve seen in a while, Hot Chicks With Douchebags. Seriously, if you wanna laugh, check out that site.

But anyway, there’s a post there called “The Thing About DJs,” and it reads as follows:

Here’s the problem.

DJs can play a great role in the club experience. Being a DJ is not auto-douche, and many are extremely good at what they do. DJs are entertainers. DJs can create and facilitate a great club vibe.

What DJs are not, however, are musicians. They are a trade. And the problem lies when they try to confuse the two.

I’m talking to you, trust fund ecstasy taking DJ pseudo-artist. Learn what a seventh chord is. Learn what the “circle of fifths” is. Learn to play an actual instrument. Until then, you are no more a musician than a printing press is an author.

You are a facilitator. A middle man. A bureaucrat in creative drag. An intermediary disguised as producer.

Even the great postmodern artists learned how to produce traditional classically trained art. Warhol was a graphic designer. Picasso and Dali learned classical realism before experimenting with form. DJs desire to tap into the societal myth of “rock star” without having to bother with learning the chords or put in the creative energy in coming up with any music on their own.

And I understand that.

Who wouldn’t want the benefits of being rock-star famous without having to have the musical talent or creativity to back it up? It’s auto-fame without merit. Like characters out of Vonnegut’s Harrison Bergeron, they give hope to the talentless by spreading the wealth equally, no matter one’s innate abilities. They offer a gateway to fame through random egalitarian lottery.

Get the right haircut and hold a set of retro 80s headphone to one ear and you too can stand on a pedestal and play the star.

But therein lies the problem. They want to roll out of bed with perfectly tussled hair at 1pm, turn on their iPod turntable with the retro-analog speakers and call themselves an artist. But no amount of carefully placed tribal tatts and stubble will turn you into a genuine production point, sample-boy. You are an empty vessel set to other people’s beats. A shell of human form emulating the authentic under the rubric of postmodern refraction and reinvention. Because you’re not willing to put in the work that will lead to genuine inspiration.

I’m not saying you DJs don’t have your place. You’re like my aural waiter. You bring me the sonics, and I appreciate it. If I could tip, I’d definitely go over 15%. Provided you play some Fishbone and De La Soul.

Know your place, sonic proletariat, and all will be well in the witching hour.

Put on delusions of grandeur, claim the role of creator instead of what you really are, an ambulatory iPod with a stupid haircut and no health insurance, and God will keep you out of Israel forever.

My initial thinking was that a hip-hop DJ could be not be lumped into the douchebag category. But then I gave it some more thought, and really, why not?

Over the past few years hip-hop has elevated the DJ to near iconic status, to the point where DJs are putting out mixtape albums with regularity. They’re appearing on award shows. They’re on TV shows. They’ve become personalities bigger than the on-air radio personalities they were once limited to. In their own right, they’ve become veritable “rock stars,” if you will.

But what do they do, really?

DJ Khaled, who actually can make tracks, didn’t even produce a song on his last album. Just saying. Not every hip-hop DJ falls into that category, but it seems like the ones who’ve been hot over the past few years really don’t do anything except promote their own brand with the music that other artists (read: creative people) give them.

A friend of mine used to say that nowadays a mixtape is like a digital business card. You meet someone out somewhere, you don’t hand them a business card, you hand them a mixtape, in the sense that it lets the person know this is what you do and these are the people you fuck with. But your mixtape is filled with creative content that comes from elsewhere, so you’re just that medium by which the music is being transmitted. And yet it’s your name on the front of that CD. But without that music your mixtape has no legs, so what really is your value beyond just being a tool to spread the gospel?

Not every hip-hop DJ makes mixtapes, and everyone does different things, so they don’t all fall in the douchebag category. And the turntable is an instrument, when used in a musical way (i.e. Turntablism). But the gist of the douchebag article was that Itunes playlist-type DJs these days act too self-important, too much like rock stars, when they’re really just the supporting act to the real creative people. And I think that argument holds some merit, even when it comes to hip-hop DJs.

I encourage you to list in the comment section the DJs who you think are douchebags.

  • http://www.incilin.blogspot.com Incilin

    Gota be Whoo Kid. All he really does is start tracks over and yell shit in the background (although I do like the voice he uses). Even he admitted that he gets paid just to press play.

    “I told Funk Flex when I catch the nigga Whoo Kid, we gone see if he know how to DJ with bruised ribs… take the DJ off your name, mister instant replay, not a instant replay, i mean a machine he use when 50 on stage singing/” – Game

  • J

    Khaled IS a huge douchebag.

    • Chris S

      OH MY GOD YES. THE BIGGEST.

  • KF

    IF SOME1 ELSE DOESNT SAY TIM WESTWOOD IM GNA BE SHOCKED.

    SO TIM WESTWOOOD!!!!

    50 year old-ass fool.

  • ri067953

    Yo, we all no it’s a win, win situation for the artist and DJ’s these days. They spit on the DJ’s tapes and then he spins the artist shit on his radio show. Another perfect example of synergy and how it’s fucked up the hip-hop game. All anybody want’s to do is make money off each other and don’t really care too much for the creative process. It really has basterdized the role of a good DJ. I’m from the west coast so when I think of DJ’s I think of DJ Aladdin and Pooh who actually contributed and help artists’ produce better tracks.

  • P-Matik

    DJ Push-button aka Whoo Kid is the worst.

  • FaMe

    Kay Slay. He’s mad old and just has a nasty ass attitude. Nobody likes him

  • havoc

    DJ Premier

    • $ykotic

      U can’t b serious. One of the nicest dudes I met in the game. U guys must have had an isolated incident.

      westwood=doooouchebag!!!!

    • jojo

      DJ Premier is definitely one of the top 5 producers hip-hop is ever produced….not only is he anti-douche, he has contributed gems that current producers cant replicate…PREMO=ICON

  • http://www.myspace.com/dfranksound D Frank

    DJ Khaled is the epitome of this type of dj. DJ Greg Street is the epitome of what a dj should be. He does all types of DJ type stuff (mixtapes, clubs, actually scratching, radio shit), he’s humble, and he’s respectful to everyone who deserves it.

  • smog

    a fucking blogger talking hot mess about djs, son your whole hustle is sum dumb ass shit you thought of while you where brushing your teeth but that shit wasn’t structured or insightful enough for you to turn in into something of importance, like a book, so you but that shit on the internet look at this fucking web site, so you stole the idea for hot ghetto mess and just applied swole white dudes instead of poor black people, bravo, next time you talk some side ways pseudo talk look at your own shit, go write a book, man i cant believe they got ride of noz for this shit man,

    • nellz

      co-sign…(minus the typos)

  • nellz

    co-sign (minus the typos)

  • 239allday

    I could give a fuck about DJ’s my nig. I’m my own DJ nigga.

    • Re-yo

      You give a fuck about Hip-Hop?
      They started it, nigga.

      • 239allday

        Dude I know, cool herc and all that, but I’m not gon act like I give a fuck when I honestly do feel that their job is not that important. I could do what they do all day.

        I’m referring to these mixtape DJs not the dude that scratch and shit. I respect they hustle.

        Get money nigga!!!

  • http://www.xxlmag.com Benicio Del Thoro

    DJ Khaled is horrendous. Not the best. I would have to say also that I don’t feel Superstar Jay at all. I think his tapes are sub-par.

  • gerald n. the birdman

    Right on. These dudes suck. Whoo Kid and SS Jay(along with countless others) just press start buttons and give bullshit shoutouts. This post is about 11 years too late though. DJ Clue made it popular to be a no-skill DJ.

    Even skilled turtablists can’t be considered musicians though. Even the best could only be compared to a congo type percussionist. Very much talented, but not a musician per se.

    Smog is a retard.

  • http://WWW.MYSPACE.COM/MACK1DAGUN MACK1&DA-GUN

    DJ’S ARE SHADY NOW,THATS WHY THEY GETTING ROBBED,THEY BOOTLEG R SHIT,THEN DONT PLAY IT ON RADIO,NIGGAS GIVE EM A FEW TRACKS THEY PUT IT OUT. ON THEY SITES,MY SPACE AND ALL.THEN,YOU HAVE TO GIVE SOME RADIO DJ’S MONEY TO PLAY (BOOTLEG AT THE CSAME TIME)YO SHIT.I REMBER A DJ WAS JAND MASTER JAY,OR TERMINATOR X, OR A CLUB,OR RADIO DJ. NOW A MF ON THE MIC IS A DJ. IGUESS THEY TAKING BACK TO THE WOLFMAN JACK DAYS.ALSO – P!MP$TRAMENTAL$- MY NEW CD -GOOGLE IT..

  • http://WWW.MYSPACE.COM/MACK1DAGUN MACK1&DA-GUN

    DJ’S ARE SHADY NOW,THATS WHY THEY GETTING ROBBED,THEY BOOTLEG R SHIT,THEN DONT PLAY IT ON RADIO,NIGGAS GIVE EM A FEW TRACKS THEY PUT IT OUT. ON THEY SITES,MY SPACE AND ALL.THEN,YOU HAVE TO GIVE SOME RADIO DJ’S MONEY TO PLAY (BOOTLEG AT THE CSAME TIME)YO SHIT.I REMBER A DJ WAS JAND MASTER JAY,OR TERMINATOR X, OR A CLUB,OR RADIO DJ. NOW A MF ON THE MIC IS A DJ. IGUESS THEY TAKING IT BACK TO THE WOLFMAN JACK DAYS.ALSO – P!MP$TRAMENTAL$- MY NEW CD -GOOGLE IT..