In 1987, South African singer, Yvonne Chaka Chaka released an album titled ‘Thank You Mr. DJ’. The album’s lead single, which doubled as the title of the album passed as an ode to DJ’s worldwide, who were the direct link between the artiste, record companies and music consumers.
The art of DJing has not changed much. DJs still play a very important role in pushing out music from artistes to a bigger audience around the world. The role of the DJ has seen a level of evolution over time. It has moved from the curating music playlist and playing the best hit songs at parties and events to excite the crowds as was the many decades ago to DJs now producing and owning their own music.
There was an era where DJs compiled songs on CDs and sold or released them for free to the public. DJs moved to hosting mixtapes of artistes- DJ Drama, DJ Clue and Kay Slay come to mind. Even though the technology revolution is gradually fading the role of DJ with regards to how they get music to consumers, DJs are still as important as they were years ago.
In recent times, DJ have realized that they can also step to the production boards and produce music. This they do either through learning the art of beats making and production or buying beats from beat makers and getting artistes on them. Examples of DJs who have found fame and riches from this approach include DJ Khaleed, Calvin Harris, Avicci, DJ Esco and David Guetta. Not only have these crop of DJs inked lucrative music distribution deals through this approach, they are also selling records and touring the world with their music.
In Ghana, there is a new wave blowing where DJs are also branching out, either directly producing music (making their own beats and producing) or getting artistes on beats they own (by buying). This new wave, is not different from what is going on in America or Europe. Before this new wave, radio DJs in Ghana were playing records on radio, in the clubs, parties or social events. Some began making what is described as ‘compilation’ albums or mixes-they put their favourite songs or hit songs on a CD for sale or free. Prominent DJs foremost in this space included DJ Black and Billy Ocean.
A new crop of DJs have picked and are advancing the role of the DJ. They are not only playing songs or radio, DJing at various events or getting booked outside the country. They are now having their names on music sleeves as producers. Here are the notable few making advances in that respect.
Julian Nicco-Annan, known within the showbiz sphere as DJ Juls is known more widely for his production works than his DJing in Ghana. The London-based DJ has produced songs for many Ghanaian artistes including EL, C-Real, Sarkodie, EFYA, Kojo-Cue and new Afro-pop sensation Mr. Eazi.
His production style is defined by blending elements of traditional or classic highlife music with modern elements of hip hop. The appeal of DJ Juls made beats are their infectious grooves and minimalistic tones as evident on songs like Bankulize, Skin Tight, Opiemu or Thirty Two. His latest work Teef Teef featuring afro-pop act Mr. Eazi and rappers Eugy and Sarkodie according to Beats1 radio presenter, Julie Adenuga is the Song of the Summer.
— Julie Adenuga (@JulieAdenuga) July 8, 2016
DJ Juls, signed to BBNZ label, was one of the DJs who played at the Lauryn Hill and Tidal Music Festival ‘Diaspora Calling’ in Brooklyn, New York in April.
Teef Teef is available on here
A veteran and internationally known DJ has done what every DJ does. He has a radio show and his shows-the Weekend Warmer (on Fridays) and Open House Party (on Saturdays) on Joy FM are, arguably the biggest Weekend Radio shows in the capital . Not only does he ‘break records’, he keeps listeners hooked with his expansive playlist and interviews with invited guest, mostly artistes.
Over the years, he has hosted mixtapes of artistes- Obibini comes to mind- through his ToonToom Records and ventured into music production too; first with his many mixes. The one song that DJ Black is remembered for is the remix of Say Something, originally performed by South Africa’s JR. DJ Black enlisted rapper ASEM on the remix. The song made rounds on radio and exposed JR to Ghanaians. DJ Black has, in recent times been behind songs such as Play Man (feat. Strong Man), You Do All (with Jay Ghartey) and his latest My Mind (with Eno). Download song here
DJ MIC SMITH
DJ Mic Smith, a DJ with Accra based radio station, YFM is doing something exciting and different which is getting attention. DJ Mic Smith is not really producing songs in the real term of the word. What he is doing is simple: he’s localizing some of the biggest pop songs in the world. Through his Afro Urban Mix Series, DJ Mic Smith usually picks a global hit and put it on an afro beat or highlife beats to give it a different feel and a touch of ‘Ghanaianesse’. So far, he has done this for two Justin Bieber songs-Sorry and Love Yourself and Desiigner’s ‘Panda’ featuring rapper TeePhlow. Prior to this, he has been releasing a songs under his ‘Shutdown King Remix’ series.
DJ Vision has cut his teeth pretty well within the DJ circles. From formerly Vibe FM to YFM, where he has seen a rise in his stock, Vision DJ is also stepping away from the traditional DJs role to putting his name on a record. A few months ago, he released a tune that is currently a people’s favourite jam. Grind, featuring A.I is the soundtrack for all ballers in town.
DJ K3V & DJ EFF (IFKR)
DJ K3V & DJ EFF (IFKR): No DJ plays more house and EDM music than these two DJs in Accra and it was no wonder they put out a record with a house vibe. With a mixtape set for release soon, IFKR (their production name) recruited Nigerian singer and producer Odunsi (the Engine) on their debut single “Omi Gbono’. Although the song is yet to breakthrough into the mainstream music scene, it’s another example of how Djs are also diversifying their talents.
DJ Mensah got Okyeame Kwame and Lady Jay on his tune ‘Wifey’. The love song has a smooth aura and a message about the swings of love. DJ Mensah who doubles as the DJ for rapper Sarkodie has been around music for a long while as a radio DJ and the resident dj for one-time Accra’s favourite night club Aphrodisiac.
With the music scene becoming more exciting, attractive and the music getting recognition outside the borders of Ghana, DJs are also stepping it up to get noticed not as the guys behind the decks playing records for people to dance to but also getting recognized as producers. It is a good and exciting thing that’s happening. The DJs are also getting some!