What is the role of the deejay in shaping hip-hop? Did deejays shape the technology that is used to create the music or were...

What is the role of the deejay in shaping hip-hop? Did deejays shape the technology that is used to create the music or were they simply consumers of mixers, faders, and microphones? What is the relationship between deejays and the manufacturers that produced the technology that made hip-hop possible?

Andre Sirois explores these questions in his book, Hip-Hop DJs and the Evolution of Technology: Cultural Exchange, Innovation, and Democratization (which can be downloaded for free here). Sirois is both a scholar and a deejay, and his book brings academic discourse into dialogue with working deejays. Hip-Hop DJs and the Evolution of Technology (Peter Lang, 2016) draws on extensive interviews with the deejays that have shaped hip-hop and the technology manufacturers who made the products behind the deejays.

The podcast covers the history of deejays, examining the three legends that are considered the founders of hip-hop: DJ Kool Herc, Afrika Bambaataa, and Grandmaster Flash. He looks at how they transformed the role of the deejay through their digging in the crates, the development of deejaying techniques, and how they developed a collaborative ethos among deejays even as they sought to develop their own reputations. Then, Sirois explores other deejays, such as DJ Trix, DJ Craze, the Scratch Hamsters, and the Invisibl Skratch Piklz, who worked with manufacturers, including Vestax and Rane, to produce signature mixers and other equipment. (You can view Sirois’s collection of vintage mixers at djpedia). The podcast also examines the complicated ways that deejays and manufacturers worked together even though few deejays received significant economic benefit from these collaborations.

Dr. Andre Sirois, also known as DJ food stamp, is an instructor at the University of Oregon, where he teaches courses on filmmaking and popular culture in the media. He has over 17 years experience as a hip-hop, scratch, club, and radio DJ. His scratches have been featured on numerous artists songs, including the gold-selling single by Spose, “I’m Awesome.” He is one of the founders of DJistory/DJpedia, a non-profit organization and archive dedicated to preserving and telling histories of DJ technology and culture.


Richard Schur, Drury University professor of English and Director of the Honors Program, is the host for this podcast.

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