The Art and Culture of the Hip-Hop DJ
Disc Jockey: someone who selects, plays, and/or announces recordings for an audience. Term
emerged in the 1940’s; orig. derogatory
Performative DJ: a DJ who not only selects recordings, but manipulates them in real time for
audiences, e.g. mixing and scratching
Turntablism: a musical performance art in which the turntable is treated as a musical
Hip hop: a cultural phenomenon that emerged in the Bronx in the early 1970’s. Comprises DJ-
ing, MC-ing (rapping), B-Boying/B-Girling (breakdancing), and graffiti art
Break: a short percussion solo found in funk, soul, or rock songs. The repetition and
manipulation of breaks is the basis of hip-hop music
Hip-hop is all about the break. They call the breaks the “get down” part.
Scratching was invented by GrandWizzard Theodore in 1967 ish? Mom was yelling at him to stop
playing, he didn’t want to lose his groove so he was playing the record back and forth.
Later, DJ’s developed looping and scratching known as turntables.
A judged competition between two or more DJ’s
The DJ battle is old as hip-hop
Began as a contest that judged the power and volume of a DJ’s sound system
Later became focused on the DJ’s technical skills, musical creativity, and originality
The battle is a crucial venue for the development and dissemination of turntable technique
Women and the DJ battle
Not many women battlers
Some notable women battlers: Jazzy Joyce, Kuttin’ Kandi, Pam the funkstress, Killa-Jewel…
In the US, women are much more likely to become miners or construction workers than battle
Where the Ladies at? (Title of a discussion on a DJ internet forum)
What accounts for the scarcity of women battle DJ’s?
“I never saw one incident where a woman was discouraged from battling” – Christi Z-Pabon,
long-time battle organizer
Cultural socialization nand stereotypes? Part of the story…
Factors contributing to the scarcity of women battlers:
o Traditional socialization of girls discourages women from engaging in technical pursuits
o Competition traditionally seen as unladylike
o Objectification of women o Battles promote a heroic form of masculinity that tends to appe