I love putting on my rap DJ hat. I grew up with some great old skool hip hop ringing in my ears and the influences changed my life.
When I play at places where the music style is eclectic and I have to play for four or five hours, I often pull out some cool old skool hip hop for the girls at a certain point in the night.
I love funk and soul too, which rap borrows from.
Hip hop makes the girls move
I’ve said so many times that making girls dance is the key to success when DJing your night.
I have to admit I quite like it when the girls start gyrating to hip hop tunes. Without fail the boys follow them blindly and you get twice as many people dancing.
Some people can stand there all night and when you drop a rap tune, they suddenly wake up and start shaking their hips. The temperature heats up and suddenly, what seemed like an average night for you leads to people coming up and thanking you and girls suddenly smilling over at the booth.
I don’t just play rap and hip hop. I play several styles and I adapt to where I am. But my hip hop tunes have saved me so many times.
I might not be the hottest rap turntablist but you can still learn from my tips and on what works for me when DJing hip hop.
Pull out the old and rare rap tunes
There’s nothing people like better than hearing an old De La Soul, Grandmaster Flash or Young MC all mixed in with the new.
Don’t stay on top 40 hip hop all night. Anyone can do that and there’s no originality. You may as well be a jukebox.
A real rap DJ will add his or her own touches, mix old with new and reach out to everyone there.
After all, there’ll be older people, younger ones and in betweeners. There’ll be boys, girls, rap fans that know as much as you about the music and people who are out just to get some action.
Rather than focus on one demographic, reach out to many of them.
There’s an older guy I know who has never forgotten me since I put on “Word Up” by Cameo. There are girls that grind like crazy to “PIMP” by 50 Cent.
Spread your style around and mix it up. All you need to do is connect to the people and they’ll warm up to all of your tunes, new or old.
Drop some different styles, like funk and r’n’b
Even if you prefer to play new tunes, try dropping an old funk favourite every 15 minutes or so. See what reaction you get.
Hip hop has its roots in funk, old r’n’b, soul and even disco. It borrows and samples from all of these genres. Give its roots some respect rather than blasting out top 40 rap hits one after the other.
Surprise the crowd and take them on a journey.
This will gain you more respect. Real DJs don’t just know the tunes from the past ten years, they know about the history of music and how it evolved to get where it is today.
How to mix when playing hip hop
I’ve dabbled in scratching and turntablism but I don’t pretend to be a champ at it. In fact, I rely on basic mixing when it comes to dropping rap music.
I cut, I drop and I beatmatch where possible. Sometimes I drop a chorus of ODB in with an Ice Cube tune for example. All this you can only learn through practising and getting to know your tunes like the back of your hand.
Scratching and turntablism
Scratching is great fun but if you’re playing in a club, don’t overdo it. Girls tend not to care so much about scratching.
If the crowd is hardcore hip hip, then they’ll probably expect you to mix well and to scratch though so try to learn some basic skills.
No one’s expecting a rap DJ to play like this every time: