This one’s a little abstract. No skills or gear covered, just some myths, misconceptions, and general things you should know about what it means to be a DJ and advice you should get in your head before you even start. Keep in mind I’m talking specifically about being a breaks DJ, some club DJs don’t deal with the same problems that we do. They have an entirely different set of issues to deal with (“CAN YOU PLAY BOOTS WITH THE FUR!”)
In the last post in this series I covered the basics you need to know for picking out your first set of DJ equipment. Once you have the equipment, what good is it if you don’t have records? Today I’m gonna discuss the process of crate-digging, how to actually search for records, where to find them, what to look for and how to choose when you can’t listen.
I’m going to be focusing mostly on how to dig for breaks suitable for a b-boy battle but a lot of the same strategies can be applied to digging for samples or simply for the pleasure of collecting. Continue reading
Lately as I go to b-boy jams I’ve been getting a lot of people asking me how to start DJ’ing, how much the gear costs and if it’s easy to learn. I love hearing stuff like this from b-boys because it shows that some of them are starting to take a genuine interest in the art form, which I think is how it should be. Even if you don’t want to actually DJ, it doesn’t hurt to take the time to learn to appreciate and understand it. After all, a lot of the DJ’s playing b-boy jams may not b-boy or dance but they have taken the time to learn about your art form so they can do their jobs better. If you, as a dancer, can learn to understand the art form a bit better you might be a little more prepared and know when a DJ might change songs or you’ll be able to pick up their juggle pattern in a battle and know when to rock certain accents.
If you live in Atlanta or ever came to visit there’s a very good chance you’ve been taken to MJQ Concourse. If you’ve never been try to imagine a parking garage converted into a club playing just about every genre of music you can think of. MJQ has been a staple for the Atlanta b-boy and street dance scene since it opened. We’ve always been welcomed and supported by a majority of the staff, particularly Poppy and JP who work the door (well used to, Poppy retired but JP’s still there). Go on any Wednesday, Friday, or Saturday and you’re bound to find a cypher. I’ve been to a lot of clubs and none of them have the same great vibe for dancers that MJQ has. The DJs are eclectic and most actually have a pretty good idea what b-boys like and are willing to throw us a bone from time to time and give us a full b-boy set for a few minutes.
Recently Creative Loafing wrote a pretty interesting article tracing the history of the club through quotes from those that actually lived it. It’s definitely worth the read if you’ve ever been to MJQ or plan on going.
I recently got a shout out from Hunab Kru on their blog (Thanks guys!) and they mentioned that I travel a lot. This is true though not as much as some of the bigger name DJ’s out there but it’s still a big commitment to leave the state. So how do you decide what jams to go to? When is it worth it? In this entry I’ll take you through the checklist I go through as a DJ and as a B-boy before I decide to go to a jam. Might help you decide which battles are worth the trip and give an appreciation of the DJ’s, judges and out of state people have to go through when they come to your city’s jam. For you younger DJs it might give a reason to pause and reconsider DJ’ing that out of state jam with the promoter you’ve never heard of.
It’s been a busy start to the spring and summer. Bashville usually seems to kick off a string of events for me every year. For some reason I don’t get a lot of bookings until after March. I guess I’m seasonal. This year’s no different. Right after Bashville I was in Asheville, NC for a jam thrown by Frantic and Hunab Kru, then Baton Rouge for Sickest of the South 3 then spent a week in Pensacola with the crew. Just figured I’d give a quick recap of what went on.