by Dmitri SFC
As far back as I can remember, it was all about vinyl records and high-fidelity. My brother, cousins, and I all wanted to be like our daddies and uncles who had a banging system with “beat”. If your system could deliver bass, then you had “beat”.
All my cousins had beat. We were obsessed, always working towards having better sound. If not in our bedrooms, then on our Walkman headphones, and then later on our makeshift DJ systems.
Being young pre-teen in the early 80s, we didn’t have the means to acquire the same sweet, wood-sided Pioneer or Kenwood receivers that our daddies owned. I would go to the flea market and record shop for oldies with my uncle and spend my only $10 or $20 on a turntable, old-looking tape deck, or a home stereo EQ. I also remember a ‘DJ’ shop at the flea market that I would visit every weekend and just drool all over the Gemini mixers and knock-off sub woofers — my room at my auntie’s house was fitted with one Panasonic turntable, one Sony turntable, a Realistic mixer, and a VCR (so I could mix in videos that premiered on BET). Almost all of the gear was modular hi-fi from the 70s; those crappy all-in-one Sony “home stereos” hadn’t even come out yet.
At that time, DJs were hitting the mainstream, but I don’t remember any “celebrity” DJs. I was too young. I remember hearing the DJ mixes on the radio on weekend nights and wondering “How did they do that with the same old funk records I have right here? I must know! I must learn!”
Later on as my cousins and I got into DJing house parties, we always rocked the old hi-fi home receivers as amps, pushing home hi-fi speakers on someone’s mother’s kitchen counter ‘til the fuses blew or the cops showed up, whichever came first. We wouldn’t waste our time on weak speakers. They had to be big, heavy, wood.
Where I come from, DJs are the dudes who are, were, always have been and always will be endlessly obsessed with not only having the best tunes but also providing the best sound quality. You gotta have beat!
Today, I meet all these new guys who double as “DJs” who look me in the face and tell me “MP3s sounds the same.” “I don’t want to use up my hard drive space with .WAVs.” “Most club systems are crap and you can’t tell weather I’m playing MP3s or not anyway.” It truly breaks my heart to hear that. All those statements are just excuses.
I hear that the young house DJs in Chicago are buying and playing more vinyl. My European peers are still pressing and selling wax.
I don’t think many people understand that when you DJ underground music on MP3s you are selling out the music all day. Yes, I realize the MP3 helps in promoting music, I’m not arguing that. What I’m saying is that an MP3 is a flyer. An MP3 does not sound nearly as good as vinyl and neither does a Wav. Not at low volumes and definitely not when turned up.
If you would like to be a professional disc jockey then be just that. Provide a professional service by serving the full frequency range intended for the people. Provide the best sound quality that you can at all times no matter what system you are on and no matter what it costs you monetarily. I have seen a plenty of dope DJs go without eating just to cop a 12”.
Never, never, never DJ MP3s. A DJ who plays MP3s is not a DJ. That would be an “MP3J”. No one should be forced to listen an MP3J and by forced I mean pay a cover charge only to be faced with low quality sound.
Club owners, it’s time to set standards for your venues. You paid all that money for a good sound system. Now put a stamp of Quality Assurance on your brand by serving all vinyl / no laptop DJ nights. If you refuse to pay DJs, you will always get the guy who plays free MP3s serving up bad frequency at your spot. For not much more you could have the guy with the 10,000 piece vinyl collection. The guy who knows just what to play at the right moment. The guy who knows just the right volume to serve a tune at.
The MP3Js are anxious and eager to trade quality for convenience. To that I say Steve Jobs ain’t never DJ’d a party in his life! He might have sold you an MP3 for 99 cents, but we all lost a whole hell of a lot more on that deal.
Keep it real. Play vinyl. Do not support your local MP3J, or you may never hear sweet warm bass-heavy vinyl again.