I remember in the 90s when hip hop was damn good. When it was about the good life, being fun and energetic like, De La Soul or Tribe Called Quest, or when it was about real life in the streets like NaS, Smif-N-Wessun, Pete Rock… and in like all music you had the clowns, people like Vanilla Ice, MC Hammer etc… But in the golden age of hip hop you would notice that you can name more of the ‘real’ artists then you could clowns.
Fast forward to today, the ‘real’ artists talking about real things don’t have much of a voice anymore. On the radio, on TV you hear and see these amazing performances. Songs written by other people. A dance choreographer to make sure all the moves are correct. A visual stylist to make sure the right image is being portrayed. I don’t watch much TV or listen to the radio at all, but i can name more clowns in todays music scene then I can the real players.
What has happened in the music industry? Business happened. The goal is to make money. Most people start off real and then become this bubble gum pop artist to start to appeal to a bigger demographic. Ever wonder why everyone always says ‘yeah I like so and so but his/her stuff isn’t as good as when they first came out’. There is a reason for that. Money and the labels that basically own the artists now control the artist, the music and the image.
I’m now seeing this happen more in the EDM scene. “DJs” need to start wearing masks or taking off clothes in order to set themselves apart from other acts. Where the goal is to stand out more then it is to make people dance. Where people stand there and watch your ‘performance‘. I see this happening at a lot of festivals and shows. The dance scene has basically become a rock concert.
- Noun: A comic entertainer, esp. one in a circus, wearing a traditional costume and exaggerated makeup.
- Verb: Behave in a comical way; act playfully: “Harvey clowned around pretending to be a dog”
Basically these acts who call themselves DJs get in front of everyone, wearing dumb makeup or a mask and act in a comical way, I laugh. Like for example when a DJ runs around on stage and then throws a big cake at someone, or when a DJ wears a mask and acts like a moron. In the following video we see Steve Aoki ‘clowning‘ around. You will notice all the people “Dancing” at this EDM event.
But Aoki insists his act is really all about the music. “The most important thing, besides all the stunts that I do, it’s always the music,” he said. “The music is the number one thing.”
So get back behind the decks and play some damn music then.
I bring this up because during the 90s, the DJ was more of a GOD. You never saw him, yet everywhere you went he touched you with his music, the better the DJ the more you dance. Places like the original Sound Factory and the newer one were open for 12 hours straight with 1 DJ controlling the vibe of the main floor. Never once could you walk up to him or even see where his lit up booth was. All clubs were setup in this way, the focus was on the people. The music was about the people, the dance floor about the people, the light show about the people. Some places did have a stage for performances. Normally the performances were drag queens (guys in make up and masks) on stage, and then the focus was on them for a short time while the DJ controls the action.
I was lucky enough to play at the Palladium in NYC. The place was simply amazing, and the DJ booth was not the focus. The DJ was the god for the evening and places like this were my church. When watching the video you will notice that the DJ booth was very lit up. The DJ was not seen but heard. He didn’t wear anything fancy and he wasn’t trying to be the visual center of attention, nor could he if he tried. Since the booth was hidden or ‘away from drunk requests’ is what I always called it.
DJs stood out because of their specific styles of music. How they played the music is what made them who they were, no gimmicks, now crowd tricks, no masks… no clowning around. Derrick Carter has always been Derrick Carter. DJ Sneak is DJ Sneak… no mask. No funny gimmicks. It won’t make their music any better only distract me from dancing. Before the internet when all I had were mix tapes, I could hear a DJ and know who it was, yet have no idea if the DJ was male or female, or if they were even human. nor did I care, all that mattered was the music.
We are not rockstars. We don’t learn silly dance moves. We do not wear silly masks or makeup. We are not a live performance. We feed off the crowds. We make them move. Set yourself apart by playing good music. If your a DJ doing all kinds of stupid gimmicks or wearing silly masks and you find that people are watching you instead of dancing, especially when your playing at an EDM (Electronic DANCE Music) event… Then you may be doing it wrong.
I’m not the only one who thinks somewhat like this, DJ Sneak called out the Swedish House Mafia for being a bunch of actors. Dennis Ferrer agreed with him. I also agreed with him. Leave a comment below if you have something to say, keep it clean, don’t be childish. Please like and share this if you agree with what I said… thanks!
P.S. I’m not hating on anyone, it’s an opinion. If it quacks like a duck and if it looks like a duck…
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And for the record, one final time… I am not mad, some people got mad at me.. like I said.. I’m calling it like I see it… they are funny. clown like even. Just dont get mad if you act and look like a clown when my friends and I are laughing at your show instead of dancing to it. You make your bed, you sleep in it.