Last season I checked this DJ reality show from afar. MOTM Season 1 had DJ’s like Jazzy Joyce, Rich Mediana, Victer Duplaix , DJ Rap, DJ Revolution, and eventual MOTH winner DJ Scratch compete in DJ style competitions to determine who was the eventual Master of the Mix by a panel of celebrity judges (Season 1 Biz Markie, and Kid Capri, hosted by Just Blaze). I met Scratch this Summer at Central Park Summerstage (great guy), and before EPMD took the stage, he more than lived up to his title of MOTM. This season, since it was on on some odd, 12:30 am Sunday time slot on BET I DVR’d it. At first glance, when I saw the people on the roster, I thought how can any of these people compare with a DJ like Eclipse besides DJ P? As I watched each episode, and watched finalist turned judge Victer Duplaix, Kid Capri, and Amber Rose (I have no idea why she is on this show, other than being sponsored by Smirnoff) eliminate Eclipse, but keep computer DJ Jamieson Hill (a DJ I have been confused with because we share the same name, with a different spelling and both live in Brooklyn), I was puzzled. Here is a DJ from one of the best DJ crews ever, getting eliminated, while people, IMHO who couldn’t hold a torch to his style stayed. Eclipse was also the DJ for Linkin Park, and he did not rank high on the live band challenge, either. That was puzzling, as I had been a DJ for a live, major label band in the 2000’s, and know the routine well. I started to watch the show a bit more closely, to see what kind of things these people were doing to win challenges and knock out a guy like Eclipse. Was it for ratings, when a female DJ like K-Sly stayed but a guy who was helped build the foundation for turntablism had his record scratched? Was it Jamieson Hills Miami Vice headbands and 80’s day-glow outfits, plus the chance that when real DJ skills had to come into play (skills you needed to use real vinyl to learn how to do it) that kept him afloat? Were people kept on the show longer because they had beef with each other rather than their true skills a factor? One has to wonder. Throughout the whole competition, there has been one contestant, a guy who has been perfecting the art of DJing and living Hip Hop for over two decades: DJ P.
“ Most of these DJ’s today who are DJ’s got introduced to it through computer DJing and have never had to lug crates, record bags, or boxes. ”
I have the utmost respect for this year’s contestant DJ P. In fact, I saw P at the 5 Spot in Philadelphia about 7 years ago. He was on the bill with DJ Jazzy Jeff and they both brought the house down. He used all vinyl while Jazzy Jeff was using Serato (before the effects download) and the DJM-099 mixer (that had effects). Jeff just straight murdered it. My favorite live DJ of all time, hands down. This was a time when a lot of DJ’s, even Preemo, were on the fence about Serato, but even a guy like that gave into technology eventually. It has become the industry standard for many professional DJ’s. I finally gave in to Serato, but of course never stopped buying vinyl each week, and still am a huge supporter of keeping vinyl alive and a huge supporter of Serato as well. If you paid your dues, using Serato just makes your job easier. I carried enough record crates, bags, turntable coffins, and the like to earn the right to make my DJ career easier. Just one man’s opinion. DJ P is the only contestant this year who is using vinyl. While a guy like Jamieson Hill (who I don’t know too much about, but know he is a former model turned DJ and has been criticized on MOTM for pre-programmed routines), K-Sly, DJ Yanni, M Squared, Enagizer the DJ, and the others relied on the digital technology, DJ P was still carrying the crates.
This past weekend, the final set of each DJ went down. DJ Yanni (repping NYC nicely), and DJ, and M Squared (sharp dresser, a quiet dude with skills) were given 30 minutes in LA to get the crowd going and do their thing (in that order). Here’s the problem that I have with the whole thing. I know it’s a tv show, and you can’t see the whole set on the half an hour show(you can on BET online), but besides Yanni’s tight cuts, it seemed like he was slamming stuff together. Let’s not get it twisted, he’s a talented DJ, but from the viewer’s point, technologically speaking he was tight, but his selection of songs and the blends didn’t seem to work. Next up was DJ P, who started off with some Uneasy Listening Vol. 1 routines (“Sweet Home Alabama guitar riff cuts in over and over on a Hip Hop beat). For those who are not in the know, DJ P and Z-Trip released this gem that was boot legged hard for years. These two started the mash up craze, and did it so well that IMHO, no one can touch what they did with strictly vinyl. P’s dropping of Dre and Snoop’s “Deep Cover” got the crowd jumping and kept their attention and enthusiasm going throughout the whole set. Next up was M Squared, who had, what I thought the best set. His clever rolls and loops that transitioned nicely from Audio Two acapellas into 50 Cent and finally ending up in a high temp club set got the crowd in the air. Here’s where I want to make my point.
The reality show is based on being a DJ. All contestants have to do is play music, no matter what medium. It’s DJ P’s disadvantage (and advantage as he stands out) to use vinyl, a medium that he chose, while everyone else uses Serato. True, the other DJ’s are using time coded Serato vinyl, which emulate the feel and sound of using records. DJ P has tight vinyl routines, and is an able turntablist with tight cuts, scratches and blends. To be fair, the other two finalists are talented as well. The big advantage they have over P is that they could loop, time stretch, and use the Serato program to do things (effects, sample) that you can’t with vinyl. P may have been able to use the EFX-1000 (a la Shadow and Cut Chemist on Brainfreeze, etc.), but if he did, he didn’t use it in the finals. As a DJ with 15+ years experience on stage as well as in the club, a spectator of many live DJ events, I feel that most people who go to see a DJ don’t care about the technological aspect of being a DJ. They want to hear the latest club banger (Can you play “N****s in Paris” 5 times in a row?), and are the least bit interested in a crab scratch (or know the difference between that, a transformer or a stab). They respond more to a looped vocal while it gets sped up into a frenzy, then blended into a siren then a straight up good blend done nicely. I think it’s a case of people being ignorant to the art of DJing, rather than being informed on how hard it actually is to be a good DJ.
DJ P is what some people may call a throwback, or old school. Most of these DJ’s today who are DJ’s got introduced to it through computer DJing and have never had to lug crates, record bags, or boxes. It was ironic that he won the crate carry challenge, because the guy is still doing it. Not taking away anything from any of the other contestants in the past two seasons (I have the utmost respect for a lot of these people, who are indirectly my peers), but it took balls for a guy like P to go all vinyl, get to the finals, and potentially win the $250K that’s up for grabs. (A figure that caught my wife’s ear, who is trying to get me to audition for Season 3.) He’s got the support from a guy like DJ Premier on Twitter, so that’s a huge person to have in your corner. The public is voting, so again it could be a popularity contest, rather than the real winner of that final challenge. It’s this author’s opinion, that even though M Squared had a better set than P, that DJ P deserves to be the MOTM. The guy has been grinding for 20 years or more (like myself), and really deserves to be recognized for his talents. Bottom line, the three finalists are all talented, each deserve to win, and will no doubt go on to bigger and better things with the help of recognition on the show. If P doesn’t win, which he may not, I feel that it will be a case of a DJ reality show gone awry. When you start DJing with vinyl, you take your knocks. You carry crates, you mark your records with stickers, you BPM with a stop watch. You actually had to go to a record store as opposed to a virtual one when the new releases came out. You got 12″ cover art. You had to dig to get better records than the next guy. This kind of stuff made you appreciate what DJing and being a DJ is all about. Most people today would not even grasp the concept of getting your record scratched. Long live the DJ.
Vote for MOTM here.