Forgotten Iconic Turntablists

The term DJ is becoming ever more ambiguous as time goes on and music techniques advance. Today we have radio DJ’s, who operate in no way that reflects the original definition of Disc Jockey, especially since many stations don’t even us discs any more. A DJ back in the day however was a completely different entity. For the vocal performers (or rappers) the DJ was an essential part of the puzzle that completed a hip hop act. Providing the backing, the tempo, the main rhythm and more, you simply couldn’t play a show without one. Today DJ often describes somebody who plays a beat in the background, typically pre recorded and infrequently an act that constitutes watching somebody ‘live’. It’s easy to spot authentic DJ’s however because they constantly change the landscape of tracks, mixing, scratching and interchanging beats and styles in the way that all the greatest performers did. Below are a handful of incredible DJ’s who have long mastered the art of scratching and much more, but who you won’t see in the charts any time soon.

Grandmaster Flash

Probably known more widely his chart topping track ‘White Lines’ a song about cocaine that was featured in horror comedy Shaun Of The Dead, Flash however is a pioneer of hip hop DJ’s beginning to master the techniques that have been adopted by DJ’s until this day including backspins, punching and cementing the scratch itself as a staple for DJ’s. Since he began in the 70’s before the birth of modern day hip hop he has collaborated with countless artists and mixed alongside other top rated DJ’s. Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007 and winning a Grammy in 2011 it still seems like the Grandmaster although innovative has largely become overlooked.

DJ Jazzy Jeff

Unquestionably one of the most well known Dj’s in the list but not because of his skills on the turntable, DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince came as a package deal back in the 90’s when the popularity of Will Smith was at its peak. Thanks to the hit TV show The Fresh Prince Of Bel Air, Jazzy Jeff is probably most recognised for his portrayal of character Jazz on screen. Though shadowed by the success of his partner, he did have a successful music career but few know that he is still operating today and a master of scratching, as his tour around the globe has shown.

Mix Master Mike

Another DJ who took his place in the back, Mix Master Mike took is responsible for much of the later backing for renowned hip-hop group the Beastie Boys. Here he made beats, scratched and performed live with the group who would persistently shout out his name in several tracks. Since the group disbanded Mike has not faltered when it comes to turntable skills. He can be seen scratching and blending rhythms like some of the greatest. In fact he had previously won DJing awards alongside his friend and equally admirable turntablist DJ Qbert.