Since I was now fully completing my own projects it opened up even more options of what I could do on the backend. I like to, and am always looking for ways to compliment projects I’m working on with other forms of art, especially where it makes sense. It keeps everything interesting for me. I do have the fear of being bored/complacent/predictable/uninspired or having any part of my creative process becoming a mundane activity. I never want to feel like I'm just going through the motions. I like to work with purpose as much as possible. It makes the difficult times and tedious tasks easier to deal with.
As stated before, 3rain put together my first few projects by sequencing and arranging in the order they played in. He also was doing a form of hosting by playing each project as a full mix. Some mixes were live, and others were simulated mixes which plays into how I finish projects now. Instead of just playing records song by song as a playlist would play, each project contains songs mixed together. In other words, some tracks may bleed into each other and/or they seamlessly connect through beats in some style. For example, when a song is made it’s simply that song no more no less, but when it is mixed it can transition to a different song through a connection of beats.
From The Lost Art project forward all of my projects released were arranged in the form of a DJ mix, i.e. a steady flow of songs with continuous play. Certain types of records cater to this more than others, such as electronic and house music where a constant 4/4 beat kick is bound to be found and carried out through a mix. Speaking only for myself, each project I have is a steady stream and flow of songs. The project is only in track by track form because the mix is cut purely for convenience, but they play as one by design.
I don't actually DJ but I personally think I have many DJ-like qualities. Although I don't have turntables or use DJ software, I am an audio editor. Mixes can be created in audio editing programs as well as DJ software. I wrote an audio editor post a little while ago explaining how a DJ is technically a manual audio editor, and demonstrated the similarities. To get straight to the point, the only thing an audio editor program isn’t capable of that a DJ can do,or can only be achieved in a DJ programs is to create scratches using records on (virtual) turntables. Scratching can be simulated in audio editor programs through the use of recorded samples with scratching sounds, but in my opinion the technique involved is extremely unconducive to any audio editor program.
So, looking for something new to do, I decided to look for DJs to put together my projects in tandem with me. My object was to go for a mixtape fashion as well as get it hosted. As an artist in charge of my own project, I can put the tape together, but I can't do all the elements involved in hosting it. I can’t realistically be the DJ hyping myself up on records. I also don't spin records the way a DJ can. I can alter the way a record plays, but it’s not an efficient use of time to make two different versions of my own work by myself. I just think that’s weird and counterproductive.
I plan to write a blog post about mixtapes in the very near future, but for the time being I’ll explain mixtapes briefly. In the internet mixtape age there are typically two different versions. One is the DJ version where a DJ usually hosts a tape and adds voice-over to it for shout-outs, community announcements, telling jokes, etc. The other is a normal/regular version which usually plays more similarly to an album, with no DJ voice-over. The songs may be mixed as well, but you won’t hear a DJ talking over it.
DJs can be found in every genre of music, but I personally feel no genre felt a bigger impact by the DJ than in Hip Hop music. DJ-ing is actually one of the core elements of Hip Hop. Without a DJ, Hip Hop music would have failed to exist. This is due to the fact that it was created solely on turntables, an extremely unique property to Hip Hop that differentiates it from all genres worldwide. To keep it short and basic, Hip Hop was formed by the use of looping breakbeats off vinyl records and a MC that would rap over it.
The DJ was the producer. Originally, a rapper would have nothing to rap over without a DJ. Flash forward to today, this is no longer true. Technology has advanced so much that the DJ is often the last person who will probably even touch a record. DJs today are used more to break or introduce records, as well as spin them. They don’t often make records any more, but even when they do, they rarely use turntables. I find that kind of sad, actually, since DJs can spin records differently than they would normally play and build up energy for a record.
On a DJ search finding someone who can see your vision and understands what you are trying to do can be difficult. This is particularly true if you are not creating music in line with the latest trends. That mixed with the insane prices for someone to put together a mixtape of a project I was already creating myself was absolutely ridiculous and highly inefficient in my eyes.
Now to pull it back for a minute. While I was creating the projects for “Up Against Hell Vol.2”, I finished 3 of the 4 projects before figuring my DJ issue out. I came to the understanding that a remix of the project was the best route and made the most sense. Since I was capable of and comfortable with finishing my own projects, it made no sense to get someone else to do that. That bridge had been crossed. The first project successfully remixed was "The MOTF 2" which was the last project completed and released on “Up Against Hell Vol.2”.
With releasing the idea of having a DJ put together my records in more of a mixtape format, I thought, "Hey let me try to get these records screwed." This process took time as well since I personally didn't know anyone who screwed music on actual tables or even virtual tables. The only alternative was simulating the effect I was looking for through audio editing programs, but it didn’t have the desired effect.
I eventually came across a DJ named DJ KSin. He had completed an ungodly amount of projects himself including remixes of current mainstream projects and projects by independent artists like myself. I have to say, from the time he did the remix version for the MOTF 2, everything clicked.
The Chopped and Screwed remixes DJ KSin did (or as he refers to his mixes, "Slowed N Throwed remixes") allowed me to do a few things. 1, I could have two totally different versions of my projects. He compiled his own versions of my work into a screwtape (similar to a mixtape, but with chopped and screwed effects). 2, He hosted projects and actually took pride in the process. He talks to the listener while spinning my records, which is cool. And 3, I’m usually inspired to make additional tracks for his tapes. These usually end up being freestyles that help create making a mixtape/screwtape.
In general, the same core songs are on both projects. On the project versions I do now, if there is a story to be told with the songs I’ll tell it on my version through whatever channels I find useful. I also like condensing time on my projects. Some of the "Magicizaproblem" projects run long. With the "Magic Okaino" projects you will find that the projects are very short time-wise. On DJ KSin’s projects however, there is no pressure on him to reduce time. Screwed songs generally are played slower due to being pitched down. So that in addition to a whole project naturally comes with a longer playtime. KSin also lets the beats ride out often in his projects, which stretches out intros and outros and creates a more musical experience for listeners.
Over time especially as a teenager I have come to appreciate screwed music. It is definitely something I would consider an acquired taste; when it’s bad, it’s bad, and when it’s good, it’s really good. I’ve fallen in love with screw music probably twice and for different reasons.
The first time it was an 8ball & Mjg
album entitled “Space Age 4eva”. I had tried to listen to screw music before, but that was the first album I ever liked the entire screwed version. It was purely amazing! It was so good that to this day I can’t even listen to the regular version because it feels too fast. I also have to note that the “Space Age 4 Eva” album was an actual great album in terms of content and everything else. Screwing won’t actually change the content part of it since it works with the music the way it’s heard.
The second time I would say I fell in love with it would have been when one of my dogs from TX was showing me music. We'll refer to him as J. Tuck. For whatever reason I came to understand the DJ portion of it, as in the style with it; the art of spinning a record.
I wouldn’t say DJ-ing in general is dead, but the art of the DJ is on life support...Trick DJs aren't extinct, but rare. The chopping technique involved in chopped and screwed music requires a bit of skill for the DJ.
Even though chopped and screwed music comes from the Hip Hop genre, I wouldn’t say chopped and screwed is actually genre specific. You can chop and screw anything since the technique more or less defines the style of music.