Every so often, the room dies down and true greatness is recognized. These moments are few and far between, but being a better DJ means working towards them with all your power. Check out a few of the legendary DJs and what made them household names.
Before there were superstar DJs, there were (mostly) guys pushing for something more. Carl Cox was the first one to break out into the next level. A solo pioneer who has repeatedly dominated Top 100 DJ lists, his globetrotting antics set the stage for others to follow. Primary claim to fame? Owning it on three decks, leading to the nickname ‘The Three Deck Wizard’.
A former member of Jurassic 5, Cut Chemist has prevailed over both the solo DJ and band formats. As with all greats, Cut Chemist helped generate the equations necessary for mixtape culture. Primary claim to fame? Being able to throw out his own preconceived ideas and put together a mix on the fly after doing a few rounds of chatting to members of the audience.
Qbert’s obsession with scratch DJing (and baseball caps) has led to his nickname as ‘The scratch professor’. His role as an educator of the super-niche artform has led to the Qbert Skratch University, which features some great tutorials and intricate knowledge of vinyl. Primary claim to fame? Insane technical skill on a range of equipment.
Mr Scruff demonstrates a rare approach in the often pretentious world of DJing - childlike silliness. His taste in music has not suffered for it, however. His breakthrough 1999 hit album ‘Keep It Unreal’ follows in the vein of Kid Koala by featuring samples of children’s songs/ The ‘DJ’s DJ’ has been avoiding bandwagons and keeping his friendly and fun audience clambering for more since the 90s. Primary claim to fame: cartoon illustrations, personality and regular 6-hour mixes.
Jam Master Jay
When Run DMC broke out with their self-titled debut album in 1984, the rules of DJing changed. For the first time, mainstream hip hop was aggressive, up front and featuring the DJ as part performer alongside the MCs. Played trumpet, bass, guitar and drums as a child. Primary claim to fame: the 1986 crossover cover release of Aerosmith’s - ‘Walk This Way’. Also an educator, pushing the knowledge outwards.
Learning to DJ? Make sure you check out some DJ courses for solid advice on how to up your game and become a better DJ than yesterday.
John Bartmann is a music producer and DJ