This is for all you turntablist fags out there who couldnt rock a party if your life depended on it.
"I don't buy mix tapes anymore (well, with rare exception) and I don't really listen to the radio, either. Why? Well, for two reasons. 1) I prefer getting the original records and creating my own playlists every time. The odds of any DJ just randomly selecting the exact songs I want to hear, in the precise sequence are astronomical. And 2) Most DJ’s today suck (and believe me, I was once a fiendish tape trader, and have owned literally hundreds of mix tapes, so I don't toss that out there too lightly). And, mind you, I'm not suggesting that DJs today have no skills or talent…It's just, today, most don't seem to know the rules.
Now, in the arts, every rule is there waiting to be broken at the appropriate moment; but that means that it first should be known, considered, and that the artist should have a fairly good answer, at least for himself, as to why - before any such rule is broken. That general credo in mind, DJ’s, here're some things to ask yourself before peddling your mix tape:
"Am I contributing anything musically?" Ninety minutes of nothing but the latest white labels glued together by a sad procession of radio blends is not what I call "ill"…For those of you who don't know (but are likely using them anyway) "radio blends" are, as their name boldly implies, what they teach you do on radio programs…When a song is just about to end, you quasi-slowly bring down its volume as you simultaneously bring up the volume of the next record (which you've had about four minutes to cue as the first record played). This is not what is meant by "real DJ’s" (ugly term, I know, but sometimes you gotta dust 'em off) when they say they blend. Those guys are talking about beat matching, making new-sounding tracks using both instrumentals played together, etc.
"Can I blend that way?' Probably the biggest pain-in-the-tuchas skill to master as a starting DJ is blending. And it's really tempting to fake it and kind of skip past that stuff and get on to the crazy, fanatic cutting. But it's also one of the most basic, essential skills you'll need to learn. Sure, every once in a while you can cheat in a mix, but if you can't blend more than once in an entire forty-five minutes, it's time to go back to the lab. Look. You're spending all this money on 12" singles with instrumentals and acappellas; but do you ever actually use anything besides the street version? Might as well just buy the CD and DJ a wedding reception.
"Do people buy my tapes for my skills, or for my 'exclusives'?" If your answer is the prior, then I suggest when those law enforcement officials raid your little shop and seize your bootleg CD’s, instead of screaming at them in righteous indignation, you make for that back door. I mean, you might as well save yourself the trouble, and just dub ninety minutes of unblended songs onto cassette (or CD-R, as is the fashion) and sell those on the Internet. People would prefer that, anyway.
"Does my super-fresh triple-backflip crab backward reverse hamster flare scratch really contribute to the final product, musically?" Just because you can do them, doesn't mean they're all that's ever called for. Often the basic jigga-jigga scratch will still sound the freshest in a certain context…Also, beat juggling, though maybe a blast at shows and on DMC videos, rarely seems to "come off" on record, so use with caution. And what's with this bit where you're playing the record, hit stop on the turntable so it winds down, and you scratch in the same record on the other table? It's just damn annoying. I presume someone must have done it once and made it sound fresh (I would guess with some up-tempo dance music in a club scene, it might work), and every subsequent use of this technique is a failed attempt to emulate that moment. But I'm going off on a tangent. My point isn't that there's no room for showing off - who wasn't amused when Cash Money "ma[d]e it sound like a horse" on "New Sheriff In Town" - but some of you DJ types just need to plan a bit before going ape-sh*t for forty-five minutes.
"Do I have anything to say?" I'd just like to reiterate that not all of these are at all essential; but wouldn't it be novel if the way the mixing, playlist, etc. were selected was to make one or a series of statements? It has been done, after all…I think. I mean, every moment of your tape doesn't have to scream, "Save the whales," but isn't the goal to make a whole greater than the sum of its parts?
And, you know what else? We've all heard your Space Travelers' Hamster Break samples and the novelty value of "ha ha; Cartman said, 'Screw you guys, I'm going home,' at the end of side two," has worn way off…This goes quadruple for samples from badly dubbed kung-fu films and fighting games. Mind you, if you're a selecting a sample, record, etc for it's familiarity intentionally, that can be genuinely valid…But please at least be aware of what we've all heard countless times before.
"Will my super-fresh playlist still be interesting next week?" It's easy to get excited when you get an M.O.P. white label that won't be available on cassingle at Sam Goody for at least another week…But, once all these records do come out, will people still be interested in your tape? Oftentimes (almost always, really) the latest, rarest, most hard-to-find white-label song isn’t the best, or even one of the better, examples of an artist's body of work. A wise DJ could actually assemble a playlist that would have people buying represses of his tape years after its initial "street date."
But it's one thing to tirade, and another to find praise, so here are some ideal (and hopefully helpful) examples of top quality mix tapes: DJ Battery Brain's Action Packed. The guy responsible for the Macola classics "808 Volt Mix" and "Get on off Yo Butt" with Vicious C put together a fantastic mix tape in the late ‘80's. He blended classic old-school records into a hype, fast-pitched mix (about as far as he could go without making the vocals go all Chipmunksey), also putting together a lot of accapellas with different instrumentals, which really isn't done nearly enough. The only drawback is that the tape was only sixty minutes, with the same mix on each side. It's still worth trading all 1001 Clue tapes for, though.
A nice surprise for me was when I ordered the Wake Up Show Mix Tape Vol. 1, featuring DJ Glen Auri and DJ Revolution (just for the Revolution side, really, where he does a fat old school mix, and taking the opposite tact of Battery Brain, slows everything down). Also almost all of MixMaster Mike's tapes (although almost all of his tapes seem to shamelessly rehash and even lift entire segments from his other tapes), and those great Mr. Dibbs/1200 Hobos tapes like Evolution or Turntable Scientifics. Though it could be argued that it's a little unfair to put these kinds of guys with mix tapes, as their stuff is often more original musical compositions than mix tapes…But, then, creating something original is sort of the idea…sometimes…fingers crossed, 'ey?
Well, if you find that a little too "next level," that's fair. Another pretty darn good example of a basic, solid tape, without too much of the fancy, super-challenging excess, then, would be Dr Dre's Compton swap-meet tapes. Nothing amazing, maybe, but all DJ’s should be able to mix this well. Remember, there's more to life than…Oh, I'll be nice and not drop a name here (though it's tempting), and instead give a special nod to all the talented, contemporary DJ’s who do continue to produce high-quality tapes and programs, which I acknowledge I've kinda slighted in my bitter venting.
Yeah…So I don't buy mix tapes or listen to the radio, and in a previous column I wrote all about how I don't enjoy live shows…I'm starting to feel like Oscar the Grouch over here. Maybe next time I'll tell y'all about some more stuff that most people enjoy and which I hate. Like going to the park, playing sports, dancing, pets, or children…always running around with their little heads and arms. How I hate them."
LOL..i got this from another site....and agree 100% with it!!!
FUCK ALL U WACK DJ'S!!!!!!!!!!!
"...you gotta read the labels..."