That's What's Up#1: What is a Hip Hop Deejay? By Mista Killa

#1: What is a Hip Hop Deejay?

By: Mista Killa (

Mon 11th Jan 2010

There is no doubt that ever since the early days of hip hop culture Hip hop has been tainted by commercialization and corporatization, washed down and regurgitated to the masses into something far from its roots. It seems that the today’s larger makeup of the Hip Hop community has failed its youth in providing them with the guidance and understanding of hip hop culture and the knowledge to distinguish those who aim to preserve and up lift the culture and those who are just in it purely for fame and notoriety. Hip Hop Dj’s being a central figure in the global Hip Hop community have a significant role in shaping peoples understanding and perceptions of Hip Hop culture. Unfortunately we have reached a point where the new generations of Hip Hop DJ’s have failed to acquire the knowledge bestowed upon them resulting in a distorted representation of Hip Hop Culture.

As I gaze at the youth today I cant help but feel an overwhelming concern for the current state of Hip Hop. Part of this concern stems from what I see as peoples confusion as to what really is a Hip Hop Deejay. Is it that person you see behind the decks at your favorite club spinning the music you are familiar with courtesy of your television or radio or is it that person you love to hear because they are playing countless anthems from the Golden years of Hip Hop. The answer is neither.

I remember as an adolescent going out to hear my favorite Hip Hop deejays play the clubs around Sydney. The clubs seemed to have an amazing ambience that wasn’t created  by the interior design of the club or the dress code, No! The people that came to hear the DJ play music and most importantly the DJ him/herself created the ambience.

People regardless of age or socio economics came to Hip Hop nights to participate in what can best be described as a tribal ritual entranced by the rhythmic compositions of the DJ. The DJ him/herself in their own zone brought people to experience multiple climaxes throughout the night not by playing club anthems or anything the crowd was particularly familiar with but by the sheer mastery of musical selection and timing. This recount for most might seem almost mythical in today’s day and age but the true Hip Hop DJ has an amazing ability to connect with his/her audience similar to their resonant ancestor, the Shaman.

Hip Hop Deejays regardless of where they are from have a detailed understanding of the history and culture which has enables them to carry on the tradition, methodologies and ideologies of those pioneers that have paved the way.  They have no concern for the genre of records played, his/her only thoughts are their effectiveness on the dance floor or wherever the music is being played.

Hip Hop DJ’s play music from around the world; beats and breaks, signed or unsigned, old or new all which is tossed into a musical melting pot that is mixed, blended and cut up for audience satisfaction.  These Deejays expose their audience to a variety of music. It can be rock, jazz, funk, soul, go-go, electro etc. the key is how the DJ manipulates that music through the turntables that makes what comes out of the speakers Hip Hop.

Hip Hop DJ’s utilize their skills to help break in new artists into the scene. Hip Hop came from the streets therefore its music from the streets made by people of the streets. By saying this Hip Hop DJ’s have access to music by up and coming artists long before they are signed to a label therefore are the first to introduce the artists music in a commercial setting.

Hip Hop DJ’s have full control of the tracks being selected they are not subjected to ‘Payola’. When people pay to witness a Hip Hop experience it’s the DJ they usually pay to hear. It’s the Hip Hop DJ that the people have invested their trust in to keep them on the dance floor. Hip Hop DJ do not slave to patrons requests and or what’s hot and what’s not that’s dictated the national or international charts.

Finally Hip Hop DJs are able to work back and forth with an MC making the crowd respond spontaneously to what is being played and said.  This partnership between the Hip Hop DJ and MC enables the audience to interact and engage in the music opposed to just dancing to it.

Hip Hop Deejays Started in the streets and uplift their people.

That’s Whats Up

One Love, Zulu Peace and Empowerment for all

Mista Killa

For comments please email Mista Killa on


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