Less Talking And Tags, More Scratching

 |  March 9, 2011


So Pac Div’s Mania! dropped earlier this week. I’ve enjoyed the west coast trio’s music for some time now so it was a no-brainer to give it a look. However I did a double take when I read DJ Don Cannon hosted it; especially since their previous work in Church League Champions and Don’t Mention It didn’t feature DJ’s. Naturally, It was at that point where Cannon’s inclusion boggled my mind. I mulled over waiting for the no tags version but something told me to trudge forth. Thankfully, Cannon didn’t include himself on their songs too much and let them ride for the most part. But this recent occurrence got me thinking about why DJ’s keep hopping on tracks in such a manner anyway.

Excessive talking/yelling and tagging on songs simply get in the way of enjoying them. They can combine for some really intrusive elements in otherwise good music. Scratching, mixing and pulling up records is one thing: even though pulling up can get annoying. Yet the tags, outside of one off drops, and diatribes can get out of hand quickly.

I mean, we know WHY DJs, do this. Tags and talking/yelling ensure DJs have their trademark on promotional material they mixed and or scratched. Moreover it’s a part of rap’s tradition to have DJ’s tag and/or holler on promos since they had considerable pull in breaking talent. It was a way of advertising themselves and the artist/group they associated with on the mixtape circuit. So it was a win-win situation back then.

Now the DJ’s inherent calling to introduce new artists is met with social networking sites and blogs doing much of the legwork without their help. That’s not to say DJ’s are irrelevant since some etched out long careers producing songs, scratching, mixing and having entertaining live sets. As a matter of fact those elements show where DJs really need to hone in, rather than tag+talk, since today’s rap seems so detached from productively incorporating them. But that’s a topic for another day.

Nevertheless, it’s hard to see the good that comes from DJ’s excessively tagging and chatting on records: especially if they didn’t create the beat let alone mix or scratch on it. Scratching technique and mixing ought to take the lead role over one’s gift of gab and love for obnoxious sound effects. Or, artists can preferably drop free records without aligning with a DJ.

For instance, Drake and Wiz used DJ’s on their projects early in their careers. However their standout free albums in So Far Gone and Kush and Orange Juice respectively still caught tons of attention without DJs yapping about and dropping tags on it. Even internet rap favorites like J. Cole, Kendrick Lamar and Big KRIT etched their names out with strong records in Friday Night Lights, OD and K.R.I.T. Wuz Here respectively without DJ tagging and yelling all over their projects. Plus these Odd Future kids and Lil B, two acts I’m not fond of, are making waves on their free albums without DJs help.

It’s not like artists liberating from talk and tag-happy DJs to promote content is blasphemous. It’s not even a new phenomenon. It’ just a wonder that this outmoded aspect of promotion persists. So with that in mind, do you, the consumer, really need mixtape DJs conversating and dropping bombs all over records? You already know I don’t but I’m open hearing a sound counterpoint.