“The [Hip-Hop] culture was invented by a DJ.
What role could be more important?!” – DJ Metaphysic
From the dawn of the Hip-Hop movement, disc jockeys (DJs) have played a substantial role in its formation. The DJ once solely selected what people heard and personally discovered and created new music. Now that Hip-Hop has developed into a popular music form, it has been transformed from an exclusive and private subculture into that of a mainstream product. Due to this cultural change, the role of the DJ has seemed to change as well. The aim of my research is to understand how DJs see themselves in relation to the music industry and their listener communities. This project focuses on DJs as a primary link between the music industry and the people. Because the DJ is both a player in the music industry as well as a participant in the community, the DJ maintains an interesting vantage point, wholly understanding the synergy between the two entities. Through a series of semi-structured interviews with both radio and club DJs, this research has sought to identify the ways in which the DJs view themselves as distributors of music. Ultimately by better understanding the Hip-Hop DJ, this project attempts to better understand the relationship between the media and the people to whom it broadcasts.
To better understand the relationship between the media and its consuming public, numerous dialogues address the issue of media’s direct effects on the people. Numerous studies have been concerned with media effects and whether or not the media content is a direct reflection of its society. There must be a point of interest for the public to want to engage with the programming, so culturally relevant content would seem essential in media programming. Elizabeth Perse addresses some of these topics, Wimmer and Dominick (2000) explained that “research on any mass medium follows a logical and predictable progression: (a) research on the medium itself, how it operates, and the content that it delivers; (b) research on the uses and users of the medium, who makes up the audience, and what are their reasons for using the medium; (c) research on the effects of the medium; and finally (d) research on how to improve the medium” (Perse, 2001, p. 259). Few studies that I have come across deal with the active processes of how media companies gain the knowledge of and build a relationship with society writ large. I have encountered limited accounts of how and why the media companies actually seek to reflect the culture. The process of creating media content does not seem to be automatically constructed simply through the nature of the relationship between media companies and society. Just as the nature of Hip-Hop has changed the way that the DJ engages with the people and the culture, presumably since the nature of society is constantly changing, so is its relationship with its media. Through a series of semi-structured interviews, archival research, and participant observations, this study aims to look at how the DJ has mediated the changes in his/her relationship with the people of the Hip-Hop community. This project ultimately aims to give insight into how media companies have done the same.