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October 14, 2006Glad you came back to check in The Spinzone. This time I am going to talk about my beat diggin' exploits over the years and how vinyl records became an obsession that led me to a serious hobby collecting records and music. As mentioned in previous posts, I started using all of the vinyl records that I was collecting from all over the place to begin DJ work at parties and around 1985 I was offered a chance to play in a club. The DJ that played at the club where I started out was on our local R&B radio station and was really getting burned out working in the club, but also had contacts with major record labels to do some promotions linked to the station at the club where artists would show up and do a track performance of their most recent song that was being played on radio at that time, sign autographs, give away copies of the new record and basically try to create that street buzz for the new single. These events were called "listening parties". In my town it was rare for an artist to actually come out in the community like this but the DJ who hooked me up with the job had the resources and skill to bring people out when the right artist was featured. There were times when a relatively new artist was booked and not many people showed up, which really disappointed the artist when they showed up because it looked like the event wasn't promoted, but that was basically a learning experience because when an established artist would come out that already had a nice track record in the music business and a good local following (especially artists from Detroit, since we were in Grand Rapids, Michigan) the response was always very positive.Leading up to my opportunity to work as a club DJ I would call into the station and play a music trivia game where they would ask a music question and the first caller with the correct answer would receive some type of prize. I won so many times that the DJ on the radio (who worked in the club) got to know me and I told him that I was fooling around with turntables and he actually heard about some of the parties that I had really rocked and offered me the job in the club. I am forever grateful to this individual. I will not reveal his name in this blog because I have not talked to him in many years (he left Grand Rapids and was working for major labels in promotions for years) and have so much respect for this person that I will not violate his privacy because he is no longer a "radio personality" and I respect his privacy. Once I started spinning on the weekend in the club I would go to the radio station and get promotional copies for the club of any records that were hot at the time and were soon to be hot around the country. One serious problem was that if it wasn't in heavy rotation on the radio, the club would rarely move to it right away. People had an idea about what they wanted to hear when they showed up and at this club they would let you know right away if they didn't like what you were playing. You had to really feel the crowd and dig out new music and mix it with really popular old cuts that made them keep moving which required that beat digging skill to create breaks of old funk records and mix them with whatever was hot at that time.
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Spinzone Records link: DJ's CLICK HERE FOR VINYL ON eBAY!Check out this Beat Digger straight out of Detroit, Michigan. After watching the video, come back and click here to read about Wajeed. This cat is a serious beat digger
. He grew up with J. Dilla/James Yancey/Jay Dee (1974-2006) R.I.P One of the greatest producers in hip hop history
. The brother on the right is Wajeed, the beat digger in the video. Check out The-Breaks.comOne of the most enjoyable feelings during my experiences as a DJ was to create a break from an obscure record that the crowd would continue to move to and then blend in another club favorite and see the crowd go crazy! There was nothing like that freedom and creativity when the people were just grooving to the beats that were being created and not just coming to the booth and treating a DJ like what I used to call, "The Human Jukebox" (not to be confused with "The Human Beatbox").No matter what city I went to during this time I always made it a point to go check out the record stores to see what I could find. My collection began to grow because I would receive promos from the radio station and also joined a record pool and sent feedback reporting what records that were serviced were working in the club, and also letting them know which ones that I tried spinning would NOT work at all. Tell the promotional people at the record label the truth because every club has a different vibe depending on the DJ's. If a song didn't have the beat that made the crowd move you must let the promotional people at the record labels servicing your pool know how to target their markets. Otherwise the promotional efforts are a waste of time!Finding rare grooves and beats in a learned skill. Click the image below to check out one of the internet's coolest beat diggers. I have been checking this site out for a while and this dude has been putting in some work.Some of the world's greatest beat diggers are the DJ's. One of my favorite all time DJ's even though many hip hop heads around my way don't give him many props is DJ Jazzy Jeff. Yeah that's right. . .(Fresh Prince) Will Smith's partner in crime. Both Jeff Townes and Will Smith are definitely Hip Hop Hall Of Famers. I will also give you a list of some of my favorite DJ's I knew or heard from my home state of Michigan. Check out the video below. . . it is classic!!Absolutely classic material on the video. Grandmaster Flash, DJ Premier, Kid Capri & Jazzy Jeff. Four Hall Of Famer DJ's! I love this stuff and can never get enough. I might have to steal a DJ name that my younger brother made up. He told me that I would be spinning at the senior citizen's home one day and go by either the DJ name, "DJ Greybeard" or "DJ Cottontop". Here is more interesting video from one of my favorite DJ/producers!Don't stop spinning and don't stop digging for beats. Spinning with vinyl is a lost art. Keep spinning and check back often. I will do my best to keep in touch. Thanks for checking.Peace To All,"The Funkadelic Relic"
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