With the current civil rights movement sweeping throughout the US and across the world, it’s seems like there is a reckoning for our current society and inequitable systems that have caused so much angst and heartbreak for people of colour. While I’ve come across my fair share of close-minded and ignorant people in my life, I feel lucky to belong to the music and DJ community that has long had a culture of love and acceptance. It has me feeling optimistic that this time things are different and significant change is on its way.
Most DJs I know have came into the craft through two forms of music: hip hop and house. These are two genres that were created and grown through the contributions of black artists. Growing up on hip hop in our teens gave us a window into the lives of those living in marginalized communities. The concept of police brutality and racism isn’t new to anybody that was actually paying attention to the lyrics. With a steady diet of Public Enemy, Run The Jewels, NWA, Ras Kass, Ice Cube, Boogie Down Productions and KRS-ONE, it would be pretty difficult to not get a firm grasp of a world that can be a vastly different experience for some.
That was 30 years ago.
As DJs, we owe our careers to these artists and it is about time significant change is made for the sins of the past and the systems that continue to keep the people down. Currently, there are some artists holding the torch and shining the light on what really is going on. No contemporary act is bigger or better at continuing this important tradition than Run The Jewels, who just dropped RTJ4 last week and is the perfect soundtrack to the world we are living in right now. Killer Mike and LP have been preaching this message for years and if you haven’t heard Mike’s impassioned speech following the early riots in his hometown of Atlanta, you should definitely give it a peep. Plus, as an added bonus RTJ always makes their albums free through their website, so if the Rona has you lacking in funds, then trust that these heavyweights got your back. Let’s start there and then move backwards to all those incredible songs that have been reporting from the front lines for decades.
JT James is a DJ, producer and writer based out of Vancouver, Canada. A veteran of the DJ and recording worlds. he has produced several projects in the genres of hip hop and electronic music under various aliases such as James Divine, Track Nicholson and Sandy Villanova. Be on the lookout for his upcoming single with underground hip hop legend Ras Kass and his electronic music collaboration with Comfortron, in 2020.