There was a time when almost everyone wanted to be a disc jockey (DJ). These days, most of us are just content listening to them as they showcase their mastery of music mixing and playing good music for audiences. Once upon a time, they were considered to be the guide to the airwaves; now, they do more than vinyl spinning as they assume the role of paramount players of the platters.
Who are the DJ’s who helped changed the game in music history? Here are the top 10 DJ’s who are considered the best of all time. They should be honored and recognized for their contribution in keeping their field up.
10. Carl Cox
Carl Cox pushed the boundaries. In 1997, when DJ magazine started listing its first rundown of the top 100 DJ’s in the world, DJ Carl was the inaugural winner. By the new millennium, he continued to do what other DJ’s failed to do. He was like traversing two time zones seamlessly. In his prime, he was considered as ‘The Three Deck Wizard.’ He was among the first DJ’s who pushed his limits to expand the domain of what DJ’s should be. Thus, DJ Carl is considered a legend in the dance music landscape.
9. Norman Jay MBE
He is the guy from the good times. In 2002, he became a prominent member of the Order of the British Empire. He survived the times from being a staple of the warehouse rave-ups back in the 1980’s. He is most noted for his kaleidoscope range of music that he loves playing. It made him an eclectic DJ. He managed to always keep his crowd moving, whether he is playing heavy reggae, spinning hip hop, or mixing rare soul joints in house numbers. You may check him out through dropping by the Notting Hill Carnival’s Good Times Sound System.
8. Jam Master Jay
This DJ has always been the backbone of the MC’s of Run DMC, who have always been at the forefront. His shining moment came when he proved that DJ’s could form a band. A proof of this was when he re-contextualized eight bars of intense drum breaks from a few copies of records from Billy Squire, Bob James, and Aerosmith. Thus, if Run DMC is the ultimate group for hip-hop, Jam Master Jay is the ultimate DJ for hip-hop. He founded his Scratch DJ Academy in 2002 before his demise. His aim was to help aspiring DJs push forward with this art form.
7. Cut Chemist
There are specific elements required to make the best DJ’s. Cut Chemist helped formulate the necessary equation. Aside from being a DJ for rap crews and funk bands, he is also considered as a mixtape king and a club rocker. He is unique because he could create a mic record instantly from quick conversations particularly with a crowd. He has proven that being a DJ is a sheer talent that could not be acquired from schooling.
6. DJ Yoda
He is simply a man of numerous talents. Aside from being a DJ, he is also a turntablist, a breakfast cereal advocate, a video jock, and a journalist. In the mixing game, he is most notable through his ‘How to Cut and Paste’ series and before that, his ‘Jew’s Paid’ tapes that were distributed through mail order. Currently, he setups big screens for his visual DJ performances to capture audiences around the globe.
5. Mr. Scruff
He is ‘the DJ’s DJ.’ He exuded a rarity in this generation of DJs, who are mostly clambering bandwagons. He keeps his crowd losing to the songs especially through his ‘Keep It Unreal’ performances. What is most interesting about him is the fact that before becoming a DJ, he had never dropped any beat in his entire life. He has proven that it is never too late to learn and make it big in this industry.
4. DJ Qbert
‘The scratch professor’ tries to pave the way for the next generation to keep the flame alive through his scratch lessons, multi-angled DVDs, and intergalactic secrets to spinning. He founded the Qbert Skratch University online to ‘educate’ aspiring DJs. Before his big break, he dominated many DMC battles in the 1990’s. He tried to revolutionize the way sets are put together.
Matt Black and Jonathan Moore form a duo known as Coldcut. Together, they have proven that two heads are better than one. The duo set a road map to serve as a guide for DJ’s mixing journeys. Their reputation was cemented by the epic ‘Journeys’ mix. It consisted of up to 70 minutes of total madness that re-set how DJ’s should sound. They are the Ninja Tune honchos who focus on making the mixing of sounds a journey towards perfection.
2. DJ Z-Trip
As an A-list DJ, Z-Trip easily tops most ‘best DJs’ lists in the U.S. due to his death-defying sound stunts mixing various genres through the decks. His works have been exhibited in The Rolling Stones opening and in his stints with David Letterman’s in-house live band. He was the master of mash-up as he does it effortlessly even in front of his live audience. What would be most remembered about him would be his outstanding DJ routines that interestingly include scratching Janis Joplin and rolling out exponential drums from Alphabet Aerobics.
1. Grandmaster Flash
Back in 1973, most DJ’s were admired for their crazy ways of touching and playing records. DJ Flash formulated his Quick Mix Theory in an effort to rise above the rest. He patiently mastered the craft of ‘DJing.’ To do so, he utilized stickers to mark records, experimented with torque powers of different decks, and invented the so-called Peek-A-Boo system in pre-fading into the next tune. Some followers even claim that he invented the slipmat. Thanks to DJ Flash, the art of creatively playing records reached its renaissance. He easily became a part of DJs’ Holy Trinity, who is cited for inventing hip-hop. He isolated the break first, Bam got the records, and DJ Flash started deckmanship.
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