Hip-hop has four art forms; breakdancing, graffiti, rapping (or MC-ing) and DJ-ing. DJ’s are the backbone of hip-hop whether it’s spinning records for MC’s to rhyme over, breakers to pop moves to, even whether a DJ is giving a display of scratching, alternating, mixing or fading. .
DJ’s record hip-hop history through the sets they drop and the people who did the most to get hip-hop to the people ‘back in the day” were DJ’s like Grandmaster Flash and DJ Kool Herc. DJ’s like Q-Bert and Disk from the world famous incredible Scratch Pickles have made trips here and in July the 1996 World DMC champion Roc Raida from the American DJ Crew The X-Men is due here for a tour of Brisbane, Sydney , Melbourne and Adelaide. You can listen to Roc Raida and the Incredible Scratch Pickles on records like Deep Concentration on Om Records or The Return of the DJ which is released by Bomb records.
What’s the best way to become a DJ?
First things you need are records. Sounds simple really but getting vinyl records is harder than you think these days, as you can really only buy them if you go to a specialist store that stocks vinyl or if you have a second hand or op-shop nearby try that. Many DJ’s ‘scratch’ using old vinyls LP’s with all sorts of songs, words and stuff on them. If you’re lucky you’ll have a second-hand record in store nearby. These are places that sell old vinyl that people have sold to them; these may be other DJ’s, collectors or others who sometimes get sent more than one copy of a record from a record company.
You can buy new music for cheaper at a second-hand store and the choice can be quite good. The more records you buy the more you’ll work out what you really like and what you’d like to play. Of course you’ll need something to play them on and for that start looking for a turntable because no one uses turntables anymore, you may know someone who has an old one so all you need to do is replace the needle.
They can also be bought cheaply. One thing you’ll learn early if you are becoming a DJ is how to watch your money; in Australia a 12” record costs between $12-18 and has as many tracks on it as a CD-single. It is possible to build a good record collection but it takes time to find the dollars and it takes years for most DJ’s to ever be satisfied that they have ‘enough’ records.
Another way to get some experience DJ-ing or using DJ equipment is to volunteer for a community radio station. If you have a community radio broadcaster (like the ones you hear Deadly Sounds on) near you try and volunteer for a radio show there. You can learn about making your own radio show and if the station has turntables you can learn how to use them. There are more than 65 stations around Australia that play Deadly Sounds so hopefully there’s one near you.
Don’t worry if you don’t have DJ turntables when you first start DJ-ing it’s important to hear as much music as possible. DJ’s have to know their music and it’s more important when you’re starting out that you have as much music as possible to play and listen to.
Manual Bundy a Maori DJ who is one of Aoteroa’s best still listens to records on his Dad’s stereo and even learnt to scratch using it. The best DJ turntables are made by Technics or Vestax and are direct-driven. This means that the motor drives the turntable directly rather than by a belt that connects the turntable to the motor. If you put some paper or a ‘slipmat’ between the record and the turntable you can hold the record while the turntable spins which makes it easy to start the record at an exact point. We’ll go into more detail about mixing, scratching and plenty of other DJ tricks in an upcoming issue of Deadly Vibe.
If you are interested in becoming a DJ, or if you are one read on about our competition where we have some great DJ-starter kits of 12” records to give away. We’d like to thank Michelle Stanfli at EMI, David Hunt at MDS, Nicole Fossati at Sony and Peter and Heidi Pasqual from Creative Vibes for giving us some great tunes to give away. If you’ve ever wanted to become a DJ write and tell us and maybe you’ll have your own instant mini-record collection!