The Art of DJ'ing

Since hip hop’s beginnings, the dj has been synonymous with hip hop. DJ Kool Herc (who is credited with throwing the first hop hop party in 1973 in the Bronx), Grandmaster Flash (who invented three distinct DJ’s techniques known as the backspin, punch phrasing and scratching), and Jazzy Jay who helped (who helped refine and develop the use of break beats) are only three of the numerous DJ’s that helped create and shape the sound of hip hop.

As the 1980s came around as hip hop started to garner more mainstream appeal and spins on radio and tv, the DJ was pushed more out into the forefront by such acts like Run DMC and DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince who actually featured their DJ’s names within the groups themselves. Hip hop DJ’s also started to gain their own radio shows on prominent stations throughout the country which helped push the genre forward. DJ Red Alert is credited as having one of the earliest hip hop radio shows, his started on KISS FM in New York City in 1982. As the 80s came progressed we started to see women behind the turntables, most notable DJ Spinderella from Salt N Pepa, showing that the ladies could mix and scratch just as good as the fellas.

In the 1990s, many DJ’s became know for creating their own mixtapes which help introduce fans to new and up and coming artists, as well as never heard before tracks before they hit the airwaves. DJ Funkmaster Flex and DJ Clue gained prominence during this time and were responsible for playing a huge role in the evolution of DJ’ing in hip hop and solidifying the dj as a major gatekeeper in the art form.

As the 2000s came around many DJ’s became known for their producing skills. Dr. Dre who started out as a dj then became a rapper is one of the biggest examples of this. DJ Khalid, Dj Premier, Pete Rock, J Dilla, and Just Blaze to name a few come to mind as prominent DJ’s who skills transcended to successful careers as producers. Whether it be at your local club, the radio station, or favorite brunch spot, the DJ is the person that everyone looks to in order to get the party started. For over 4 decades, the DJ’s influence over hip hop has been greatly felt and putting it quite frankly, there would be no such thing as hip hop without their input. Nuff said.

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