SIX QUALITIES OF A GREAT CARIBBEAN DJ

SIX QUALITIES OF A GREAT CARIBBEAN DJ

DJ Cover Image

 

DJ Cover Image

By Jason Walker

 

Changez Crew (Jason Sjywalker, FireArmz)
Changez Crew (Jason Sjywalker, FireArmz)

Now the first thing you may ask is what makes me qualified to make this kind of list, so let me give you a little background. I have been a Caribbean DJ for close to 30 years (wow I am old) and have been blessed to be on a sound system (CHANGEZ sound) that has represented well in Jamaica and Atlanta; played throughout North America and the Caribbean. I have clashed against or played alongside some of the best DJs and sounds that specialize in Caribbean music including: Kilamanjaro (Jamaica), Stone Love (Jamaica), David Rodigan (U.K.), Chinese Laundry (Trinidad & Tobago), Soldier One (Bermuda), Dogheart (USVI), Bass Oddyssey (Jamaica), Jugglerz (Trinidad & Tobago), Waggy T (Florida), King Addies (New York), and Deon di Butcha (Bahamas) to name a few. Some may say that resume gives me a little bit of credibility.

From my experience, there are some obvious qualities that any DJ has to have, for example, the ability to blend music, to know the hit songs, to know what people want to hear, an ability to connect with the crowd and an ability to hype up an audience with music and microphone chat.

 

However, when it comes from being a good to great Caribbean DJ there are certain qualities that really make them stand out above the rest (in no particular order).

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  1. A GREAT CARIBBEAN DJ IS OPEN (FLEXIBLE) :
    • They plaequalizer-153212y music that is appealing to persons that are connected to all 35 Caribbean countries. A Caribbean DJ cannot only play the music from the country he/she is connected to and/or the country he/she is in. A Jamaican DJ needs to be able to draw music from another country (say USVI) and even play the music from his country in a fashion that is appealing to the person that is not from Jamaica (Music is truly consumed in different ways a lot of times based on where you are from).

  2. A GREAT CARIBBEAN DJ IS A MUSICAL EXPERT:
    • They have to know the history and importance of the songs and ‘riddims’ and how they impact people. A good Caribbean DJ needs to know which songs should be played with which songs and why.

  3. A GREAT CARIBBEAN DJ IS AN ENTERTAINER :live-concert-388160_1280
    • Caribbean audiences want to be entertained with energy, comedy, imagination and creativity. Do not be surprised if something major happens in the Caribbean community and the DJ shows up at the party wearing costume that represents that occurrence. Many a DJ made a living off of being comedic in between playing the right music. There have been DJs who while spinning would blow fire out of their mouths.

  4. A GREAT CARIBBEAN DJ HAS TO LIVE UP TO AN AGE OLD TRADITION :
    • mixing-desk-351478_1280The origins of the Caribbean DJ throughout the Caribbean was that they were the only entities at one time where you could hear Caribbean music, the radio would be playing North American or European music, so the only time local artists would get exposed was by the Caribbean DJ playing that artists music. That also goes for local news or happenings; the DJ has to play music that fits the news of the community and also at that point tell the news, while entertaining the crowd. Going back to a time when local news did not make the radio.

  5. A GREAT CARIBBEAN DJ IS AN EDUCATOR :
    • DSC04063Once understanding the history of the music the Caribbean DJ has to play the music in a fashion that shows respect to the history and culture surrounding that music, in Reggae for example the history and culture is steeped in African liberation, human rights and Rastafarianism, or in Soca which is steeped in a history and culture of Carnival, multiple Cultural creativity, self-expression and West African harvest and celebration.

  6. A GREAT CARIBBEAN DJ CREATES A STRONG & MEMORABLE BRAND :
    1. They build a brand that can compete on a worldwide level so that they can also become ambassadors for Caribbean music. They also understand that there is a lot of competition out there. After mastering the technical skills, they take things a step further by creating an unforgettable name and tag-line. They understand what is important to a Caribbean audience and use that to build a name and reputation that reinforce those qualities . They create quality mixes that showcase Caribbean music but can easily be adapted to audiences throughout the diaspora. They also build a strong reputation for delivering quality at every event, concert or party they play in to help build their network.

At the end of the day, the work speaks itself. If people leave an event sweaty from dancing all night long then it’s safe to say, you delivered as a DJ. Some of the most successful Caribbean DJs have done well without the ability to blend, mix, or play all the hits, but I have never seen any succeed without the above.

 

Jason Walker is 30 + year DJ who has a journalism career that spans 20 years. He can be followed on twitter at www.twitter.com/jasonwalker_or emailed at jasonarticle@gmail.com

 

Jason Walker17 Posts

Patriot, Jamaican, Caribbean, Pan African, Humanist, Radio Personality, DJ. I have worked over 20 years as a Journalist for Caribbean Today Magazine, WRFG Radio 89.3 FM, Cross Over Media and several media outlets in the Caribbean and the US.

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