The Beat Hamster
*** ill o.g. ***
Battle Points: 1
There was a time that has come and gone; a magical time that seemed to only last a few short years yet had a great impact on hip hop, from the west to east and everything in between. Deejays were in abundance, everyone seemed to know someone that scratched (or was trying to), and Technics 1200s were flying off the shelves faster than you can say "Ahhh" or "Fresh". It was a time when battles were commonplace, and the DMC competitions were overwhelmed with the amount of entries each year, forcing them to expand into different categories.
Hip Hop DJ's Have Changed Dramatically
All of this is now gone. The amount of deejays today has been reduced to next to nil (or so it seems), and because of the digital age, Panasonic has decided to no longer manufacture the Technics 1200, which was THE turntable for any serious deejay. If you had anything else, you were considered someone that was working their way up to 1200's. Because of the discontinuation, prices for the 1200's have skyrocketed. Everyone from Qbert to Roc Raida were so well known and so popular, they would be on tour on a regular basis.
So, what happened?
The digital age. Deejays would spend hours upon hours practicing in their bedrooms trying to get that certain scratch just right, or figure out that beat juggle, all until their ears were as tired as their neighbors'. This was mostly in the early to mid-1990's, but then computers came along, and so did the internet. At first the internet seemed to really help a lot of deejays because they could now ask for advice, or even post their mixes online. Then it got a little worse because deejays ended up spending more time on the computer than actually deejaying. Playstation, Xbox, cell phones, all this stuff pushed the once-dedicated deejays into their computer chairs and kept them there. There were no more hunched backs from standing over their 1200's trying to perfect their craft - instead the hunching now came from staring at a computer screen for the entire day.
The DMC Competition Is a Shadow of its Former Self
I used to watch the DMC DJ competitions each year without fail. From the regional heats to the world finals, I was on top of it all, taking it all in. I bought all the VHS cassettes I could get my hands on, and knew all the deejays that had competed. I was almost like a walking deejay encyclopedia! I even went as far as recording my favorite DMC routines onto audio cassette and playing that in my walkman. However, ever since the dawn of the digital age, the DMC has seen a steady decline to the point where they've now introduced the DMC online championships. It's almost like as if they know that's the only way to get deejays involved, and almost as if they're getting ready to do away with the real annual competition.
It's too bad too, because there were tons of great deejays and routines that came out of the DMC battles. So many guys built careers from winning the DMC, whether it be the local contests, or the world finals. It was a great way for deejays to show their stuff in under six minutes, and give the world a memorable routine.
The New DJ Style Is Completely Different
Even though the digital age is the cause of deejays almost disappearing, one of the other factors is the style that today's deejays use. From beeps and boops to super-fast vinyl manipulation, it utterly sucks. Some people love it, others hate it. I hate it. There's no style! Everyone is the same, there's no variety and no imagination. If I had to summarize today's routines into one word: noise. You can't possibly think that this has actually helped move the deejay community forward, can you? Nothing lasts forever, and moving forward is the way to stay alive in music but holding onto something that is a proven winner can't hurt.
So, are they dead?
The ones of yesteryear, yes. Deejays will always be around, just not the ones I'm used to. Scratch deejays have quietly gone underground, and hip hop deejays are still here, just doing things differently. Instead of 1200's, they're using CDJ's, or 1200's with Serato.
The way to stay alive is to continue doing what you do, but don't forget about how it was in the golden era. If all you've ever used is CDJ's, good for you, but don't neglect vinyl! Don't neglect scratching! And most of all, don't neglect hip hop.
Now watch some real deejaying: