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Thursday, March 07, 2013

Choosing sides only works at KFC...

There is a war going on in Chicago House music.  It's not broadcast out loud but you can catch rumblings here and there.  It is a multi-front war.  It has different factions.  Let's talk about these factions.

There is the Old School versus the New School.  
There are some DJ's that have been in the game since the beginning of it.  These guys have been spinning since the early 80's and, with the exception of a few breaks here and there, have not taken any time off.   Now let me clarify something about these guys.  It's not that they are legendary but just below that status.  They were the guys I like to call "and the rest" which would be the Professors and Mary Anns.  They have always been there but are just now getting their recognition.  They still have to quote their resumes to get jobs but they have impressive references.  This group feels that in order for them to recognize you as a peer you either have to have the same time in or have to have done something like produced a well known song.  If you started your career 10 years or more later than they did they consider you new school.  That is where the rub is.  They stick together and don't feel that a new guy can understand the struggle they have endured to be the headliner after living in the shadow of legendary DJ's.  In fact they question why they are not legendary in the eyes of the fans and often tag themselves as such.  

Current DJ's versus Newcomers (Up and comers)
Current DJ's have been in the game for at least 10 to 20 years.  They may be the hot guys on the scene right now.  You can tell who they are by how much they complain about the difference of DJing on real turntables versus "Hotplates" or using MP3's and Serato/Tractor programs.  Surprisingly enough the argument used to be about Turntables versus CD turntables but the latter has been quietly accepted because the Virtual DJ programs have taken its place as the demon of the culture.  These guys want to battle all the time because they feel that the new guys have not learned the required skills to have the title of "DJ."

Female DJ's versus Everybody else
Female DJ's feel that they are not given the proper or equal respect as their male counterparts.  Often times they complain that they are not being paid an equal amount or given the same consideration.  At the same time as wanting to be equals many of them often organize all female DJ functions and advertise it as such.  This is the Catch 22 of the struggle along with the overly sensitive nature of DJing with them.  It's like DJing on eggshells.

The Skilled DJ versus the Assisted DJ
This is more extreme than the Current versus Newcomers because there is still a basic knowledge of DJ skills and functions in that struggle.  The Assisted DJ has never used any equipment that does not have a "sync" button on it.  That means that he or she cannot hold a simple blend.  Now there are levels of DJ's out there.  There is the guy that can juggle a beat and scratch his life away all night.  He is the guy that breaks your mixer and blames it on your shitty equipment.  There is the guy that keeps the dancefloor packed all night but that guy plays all the crowd favorites and if you don't go on before him your set seems tame.  Then there is the top 40 guy that fades all his stuff in and out.  He is the "request guy" that will play your requests (kind of like the wedding DJ).  The Assisted DJ tries to do blends but can't count a beat and often brings in music on the wrong count and ALWAYS uses the sync button other wise he would "trainwreck" all over the place.  Real DJ's hate this guy.

Where do I fit in this crazy thing?  Well, my first gig was in Highschool in 1984.  I've produced a few popular songs that have been played in the clubs and on the radio.  I can DJ using turntables, Pitch controlled tape decks, CDJ's, Serato, Tractor or what have you.  I'm known to a few legendary guys as well as the general public.  I guess the only group that I can't say I identify with would be the female DJ's.

This would not be an issue as far as I'm concerned because I judge DJ's on their skill level.  I don't really care about the Gender thing.  If you train your dog to hold a blend and pick out good tunes then I will support him.  I do, however, have issues with the whole female DJ movement.  You see they are not getting gigs as good DJ's.  They are playing up on the gender thing and use it to their advantage until it becomes an issue then they shout "equality."  I don't like that.  I was at a function recently and a female DJ was doing her set.  She is a newcomer but  well known in the industry due to her other activities related to the industry.  I was watching her spin as most DJ's do when at a function of another DJ.  She looked up and started doing this flirty DJ shit that I see most female DJ's do.  At that point my admiration for her skill was somewhat diminished.  I was a fan of her technique and it seemed cheapened by her "Hey look at me!  I'm a sexy female that DJ's!" moment.  Hey lady!  I'm not attracted to you and I did not come here for the Cinemax version of House Music.  What's crazy about it is the more attractive female DJ's seem to not have to learn many skills versus the less attractive ones.  I've met some cold ass female DJ's and have nothing but respect for their skills and I've met some mediocre DJ's who would not get gigs if it wasn't for the fact that they were female.  

I'm also bothered by this "All Female DJ" functions.  I'll look at the roster and say "hey So and So will be there and Such and Such will be too" but then I'll see a bunch of names that I've never seen before and may never see again who are on the bill just because they are females.  That seems as if it would be counterproductive to the DJ's that have real skill if half your roster are train wreck DJ's.  

The world of House Music is judgmental.  Often times you have people that will judge the overall night based on the worst DJ there.  They will say your function sucked because of one fucked up set.  I went to the birthday bash of a legendary DJ and had a ball.  He had legendary performers and DJ's all night with two parties simultaneously pumping the jams but all anybody could talk about was the 5 minutes or so that the power went out on stage.  REALLY?!  That whole night was a great experience and you want to bitch about a glitch.  For some reason House demands perfection.

I really hope that the female DJ's abandon this crusade and just strive to be awesome.  If you are awesome DJ's no one will care if you are female or not.  At least that is how I feel about the whole thing.  Oh, and about that whole not getting paid equally thing?  If you are a headliner the promoters will pay your price to get you.  If you are not getting paid then it is because you are accepting the lower payments and complaining about it later.  You can put a stop to that in the door so if you are not getting what you think you are worth then who's fault is that really?

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