One of the key difference between the “electronica” craze of the 1990s and today’s EDM scene is the fact that vinyl is pretty much unheard of as a means to play or sell music. Back in the ’90s, the turntable was outselling the guitar and being looked at as an instrument, and not just something to play music on; today, if you have a good DJ controller and a laptop with Serato, there’s no reason for a turntable to be in your life. With that loss of the art of vinyl and how it pertains to DJing, there are certain skills and techniques that DJs who learned on that medium just don’t have today. Not to say that a DJ coming up now can’t be as technically skilled as someone from that era, but without that knowledge, they learn different skills… or find ways to bypass the need for those skills to work on their mixing and whatever effects they bring to the table. The art of that kind of older DJ is not lost however. There are DJs who cut their teeth on the older model and are now helping shape the dance music scene. Some of the names are obvious, while others might not be as known, but these DJs have the skills to really excite a crowd through the art of turntablism. Here are the most skilled DJs in EDM right now.
This was inspired by an article that came out on my folks site Largeup.com today about the Beastie Boys’ connection to reggae music. I left this comment on their article today:
The Beasties truly represented my musical path more than any other group ever. I came of age (11-13) going to see to hardcore bands like Bad Brains and Murphy’s Law, who obviously both had big reggae/ska influences. At the same time, I was being introduced to “The Harder They Come” soundtrack (which includes the “Stop That Train” sample), Eek A Mouse, Steel Pulse, Yellowman and the like. I remember, my boy had all these reggae artist names scrawled on his book bag, and it just had a HUGE effect on me. I went and found all those artists.
After being raised on classic rock, yacht rock and 80s music, hardcore and punk were the next logical step. Then, all the hardcore kids in Boston (where I grew up) took off their Doc Martens, and put on sneakers, started listening to/going to more reggae, ska and hip-hop shows, and called themselves “sneaker boys”. Precisely at this time, I moved to NYC. I never went to another hardcore show again. I got completely obsessed with listening to Red Alert, Stretch Armstrong, Kid Capri and Silver Dee on the radio, and just got consumed by hip-hop. Later on, I went back and caught back up on all these previous phases, which was great therapy.
The Beasties represent the true nature of hip-hop and dj culture to me. The people that started hip-hop (and dj culture), just loved music. ALL KINDS. But the Beasties also had a musical progression that mirrored mine, which transcends any of that for me. The connection between reggae, punk, hardcore and hip-hop is something that I think many people who call themselves “hip-hop fans” just don’t even understand.