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WHAT'S THE WORD?: The importance of the DJ

A brief rundown of some of Tacoma’s hottest DJs

DJ Reign helped Can-U solidify himself as one of the best MCs to come out of the scene

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It all started with the DJ.

This ain't a Hip-Hop 101, class, so I'm not going to break down the history, but when hip-hop started in the South Bronx, the DJ was the most important element. Fast-forward 30-some years and it's not quite the same. A lot of shows nowadays don't even have a DJ. There's just a guy playing the MC's music via a flash drive or a CD player.

Thankfully, there are a few DJs left around making sure we don't forget.

J-Mar Da Sik teamed up with Black Anger's DJ Sayeed for J-Mar's new mixtape, Off With Their Heads (covered in the May 19 "What's the Word?" column). DJ Sayeed can be heard scratching, mixing, blendin' and cutting the whole album up. Having a skilled DJ host a mixtape can bring a certain excitement and legitimacy to the project, and this counts as an example

DJ Hanibal is another active local DJ to recognize. He helps run the awesome art-party machine Artifakt. He also moonlights as a sometime DJ for City Hall. Before all of this he was the DJ for Life Cycle.

I must also give props to DJ Reign. Reign helped Can-U solidify himself as one of the best MCs to come out of the scene. DJ Reign and Can-U were able to form flawless live shows where they interacted on a level that almost touched that of Eyedea and Abilities. 

DJ Iceman is a popular local DJ who spins for a lot of hip-hop artists at their shows. He's sort of a hip-hop renaissance man. He can MC as well. Ya can catch DJ Iceman spinning during this year's Hemp Fest and at Hemp Fest's official hip-hop after-party at the Surreal Ultra Lounge.

DJ Gerze is another DJ who is a staple on the local scene. Gerze does so much more than just spin music, though. He also promotes and plans parties and events. Gerze currently DJs for Seattle/Tacoma MC J.Bre-who should be checked out. He's a promising young MC.

DJs Iceman and Gerze are two DJs that are in touch with the local hip-hop scene. They know the artists and they play and spin local music at their gigs.

As Gerze says, "If ya a local DJ and ya don't know who the local MCs are, then what are ya doing?"

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