DJ and producer Funk Butcher (Kwame Safo) recently suggested on Twitter that you’re “Not really a DJ if you don’t spend your OWN money on other people’s music to play” prompting a lengthy discussion about the role of the contemporary DJ. We asked Kwame, who is also PRS Grants & Programmes Manager as well as an editor, broadcaster and label boss, to flesh out his thoughts on the matter.
Twitter is one of those universes as a musician sculpting your brand which can become somewhat of a poisoned chalice. The mundane takes can be misinterpreted and distorted to amplify internal frustrations which have nothing explicitly to do with what has been initially suggested. Despite this precarious space, I flirt with day-to-day, I love the opportunity to deliver personal takes succinctly and draw a range of opinions on a given subject. Most recently it was the role of a DJ.
Not really a DJ if you don’t spend your OWN money on other peoples music to play. Playing 100% of your tunes is not DJing. It’s marketing.
The disc-jockey or DJ prefix has been conflated with producer in the modern context of the role now and with it a war wages between those who have chosen to DJ in its traditional sense and those who have sought to amalgamate the job descriptions (and arguably the industry requirements) of both DJ and record producer.
The initial tweet I sent in June was a tongue-in-cheek dig at those who have strayed from their obligations as DJ’s to educate, entertain and inform their audience on a range of amazing music which would be defined as “new” to the listenership. What quickly came apparent from my post is that the role has somewhat shifted into a space of producers who self-define as DJ and have redefined the role of DJ. There will understandably be a meeting of the two worlds, especially in the modern music climate which forces many of us to wear multiple hats, purely out of survival and necessity.