Just saw this tweet from hip hop producer/dj Just Blaze which confirmed the inevitable:
“omg. Wow. Pour one out for my fellow dj’s. This is insane”.
I hesitate to say this, but when it comes to DJ’ing, I’m a purist (or an old head depending on what side of the millennium you prefer to associate yourself with more), and I’ll boldly make this statement: if you call yourself a dj, and you aren’t a little bit teary at the news, I’d hesitate to call you a dj.
It was in 1972 that the first Technics SL (Stereo Player) was released. Around the latter half of the 70’s, hip hop dj’s starting picking up on its stability when they would scratch. Technics improved the torque, the motor and the solid casing, and turntablists turned what was initially intended as a player into an instrument.
Enter the 80’s and Technics 1200’s were everywhere – every DJ rocked a pair of 1200’s. Every rap crew which had a dj, that dj would be kidding himself if he wasn’t cutting it up on the original “Wheels of Steel”. (Here’s the Hall of Fame for all you real heads)
Then came the DJ competitions, and most notably the DMC DJ championships which featured legends like Q Bert, Grand Master Roc Raida, DJ Jazzy Jeff, DJ Cash Money, Total Eclipse, Chad Jackson, Cutmaster Swift, A Trak and Craze. The list goes on and on.
Even over the last 20 years, with the emergence of Vestax, Pioneer, Gemini, Numark, Stanton amongst others, all revealing and updating the turntables’ possibilities, Technics has always been the premier turntable.
Now enter the digital age, where people call themselves dj’s and can’t use a turntable to save their lives. Pitch shifting and tempo’s are automatically matched on computer programs now. What once was a manual skill has now eliminated the need for the actual dj. It’s as simple as “enter playlist” into a piece of software and your party is set… well… kinda…
Serato emerged thanks to some fellow innovative kiwi’s, and still the Technics 1200 amongst other turntables was the weapon of choice. Serato Scratch allows you to use a time-coded 12 inch of vinyl to position, play and of course scratch and mix your mp3’s from your computer as if they were, well, 12 inches of vinyl. Authenticity in feel, and used by many who preferred a laptop to the gig bag or the crates of records. But was this enough to save the Technics 1200?
I had a pair of 1200’s back in the day – I miss em… I sold em when I needed money to go to University to pursue my post-grad studies. I remember the mixtapes I used to make for cousins and friends, and dj’ing at parties. I hoped to use them much like DJ Premier or Pete Rock used them in production one day. I still hope to use em.
Although I hope the turntable never goes out of style as an instrument, this is definitely a sad day for the real DJ.
Rest in Peace.