ORIGINAL FB NOTE: http://www.facebook.com/notes/brothers-rockwell/break-djs-and-jam-promoters/153256948022646

The DJ is not only the backbone of any party, but also of any Jam. People come to dance and it’s the DJs job to make them go off. Now the Does and Don’ts* for a Break DJ have already been described by DJ Timber, and there’s nothing I can add to this.

But the best Break DJ is just as good as the environment provided. I’ve often found out that a lot of promoters actually have just a little to no idea of what a Break DJ needs to cater to the BBoys.

Most of the following cases I’ve been through myself. Every time I learned to take care of s.th. new I didn’t consider or took for granted. So I decided to put this list together to provide promoters and aspiring Break DJs with a checklist of what to look out for.

1. The Placing of the DJ

The DJ has to look out for the BBoys in order to read them and chop up breaks according to the bboy’s runs. The DJ booth should be located either as close to the BBoys as possible, or at least provide a clear view. No people or any objects in the way! If the DJ uses Serato, make sure he has a place for his laptop that allows him to keep an eye on the dancers while browsing his crates.

Being placed in the left corner of the room once, while the battles where in the most distant right corner, with a huge pillar right in the middle and the only place for the laptop right behind me, didn’t made things very comfortable.

2. Sound Monitoring

Especially when having a bigger venue, sound monitoring is vital. In order to mix, cut and blend accurately, the DJ has to hear the music playing in time and not the delayed echo bouncing back from a wall. For small venues or outside events, you can just place one of the speakers close to the DJ facing him.

My personal worst experience was playing breaks in a huge hall, while separated by a curtain, some other DJ right behind me was playing techno for a rave!

3. The Schedule

Don’t expect the DJ to play for 7h straight without having time to go to the toilet or to get a snack. Also involve or inform the DJ about the schedule of the battles. When you suddenly make a two runs per bboy battle a 5min battle, don’t forget to tell him.

4. The Equipment


Make sure your turntables have proper torque. When the DJ lets the record go, he doesn’t want to keep pushing the record until the turntable finally build up enough speed. It should be out of question that the turntables are in good working condition. No loose or broken tone arms. No inaccurate pitch faders. No sticky buttons or spilled drinks in the mechanics. Clean contacts.

The Mixer

Probably every DJ will have his favorite mixer, but I think that there is one specification that everybody will like. An adjustable cross fader. Playing breaks means a lot of cutting and I never came across a Break DJ who doesn’t like a „fast“ cross fader. Good working condition shouldn’t be a question either. No bleeding faders. Clean contacts. Working Headphone exit.


Most DJs will probably bring their own stylus. In case you have to provide it go for a stylus with proper skip resistance as cutting and juggling the records can make the needles skip easily.

The PA

Get a decent PA and s.b. who knows how to handle it to get good sound quality. But be careful. Serato DJs that play 128kbps mp3s and youtube rips will sound straight up whack now!

5. Booking

If you’re booking more than one DJ, listen to the DJs mixes or watch the battles they already played. You don’t want to hire two or more DJs that play the same songs.

* http://www.bboyworld.com/forum/breaking-discussion/62555-djing-b-boys-my-perspective.html

DJing for B-Boys: My perspective

A lil something a wrote a while back for a blog on myspace on a few guidlines & opinions I have on DJing for b-boys

Watch The Dancer / understanding the music:

As a DJ you will have to make sacrifices to the way your set ‘sounds’ in order to keep with the b-boys, never change the record in the middle of a dancers set unless it is unavoidable. Scratching, juggling and extensive mixing should be kept to a minimum. Don’t start mixing in a record and taking it out again. Dancers feed off the energy from the music. Dancing to two songs at the same time doesn’t add up no matter how well they are beat matched and mixed. When DJing battles watch whats happening and change the records between dancers. The better the b-boys the easier this is, competant b-boys will finish on the one or at the end of bars and phrases of music whereas wack dancers finish sometimes at completely random points in the song (mainly because of their inability to freestyle and adapt to music). Predicting when a b-boy will finish is never going to be an exact science (some go on forever whereas others finish far short of expectations). The more you watch and play for b-boys the more you will understand about the way they build their sets. Its not easy and you don’t always get it right especially when playing short breaks. Dancers should also listen & watch the DJ when they are about to start a round, if they see or hear the DJ is about to change the record then wait for the DJ to do so. Also, unless you are 100% confident of what you are doing don’t dance awkwardly to intro’s of songs…wait for the beat to kick, you won’t loose points and you more importantly won’t look like a tit!! DJs shouldn’t play anything with more than an 8 count intro once a battle has started so just wait it out and build your energy so when the music kicks you explode! As a DJ I think less is more, a lil bit of scratching / cutting is good to let the b-boy know your gonna spin back the break or change the song but anything more can become intrusive to the b-boy.

Challenge the dancer:

Nobody likes to hear the same old sh*t time and time again. Finding records that people don’t know that suit b-boying & knowing how to play them is what will set you apart from other DJs. Hip Hop has never been about being stale and doing exactly the same thing as others, its about innovation and progression, about bringing your personal twist on a format created by others. As a b-boy (someone who dances i.e. reacts to music) you should really love music, and if you love something you should want more and more of it. My favourite record is a record that i’ve never heard before…the feeling and rush you experience when you hear something you never heard before thats perfect for b-boying is unbeatable as dancer. From my experience playing classics works best when you get b-boys hyped on some raw shit then you drop that classic jam and then it sets it off.

What do I look for in a record? Understanding B-Boying:

I look for records that sound like or have the same feeling as the classics. Knowing the difference between drum beats & breaks is important, sometimes beats work for b-boying but more often than not they don’t have the same energy as a breakdown. Records that have a similar (sounding / feeling) breakdowns to Apache, Lovomaniacs, Yellow Sunshine, Humpty Dump, Get Into Something, Love The Life You Live, Listen To Me, It’s Just Begun etc work best. As you well know hip hop came from a huge melting of different musical and cultural influences and therefore as a DJ you should continue to look for records from every source imaginable, musicians used to cross genres a lot more than they do know, rock groups experimented with funk, latin, jazz and the same goes for funk and latin musicians, many of my favourite b-boy records aren’t classifiable in one genre. The more you understand about b-boying and the movement of the dance the more you will understand about what works to dance to. Some people will see “indian step” as one step, others will see it as one movement with 100’s of possible different variations. Very few records are suitable for dancing to all the way through so please don’t let us hear “too much”, cut out the crap please Mr DJ, thats what you’re there for! It can be real nice when the DJ plays part of the song after the break before cutting the break back, just don’t let the dancers hear too much!!

DJ or B-boy first?:

I remember when I used to hear Leacy play he kept smashing record after record that I’d never heard before, I was never interested in what the records where, I was too hyped about being able to dance to them. I will always be a b-boy first and to be honest, I don’t want to know other DJs records cus when I see them then I will be able to hold onto that excitment of hearing THAT song again and hearing their new discoveries, the way I see it, its like learning all of your favourite b-boys moves, then when you see them again its not the same because you know how to do everything they did last time you saw them, sometimes to have more you have to have less, it takes away the magic away

Paying homage:

No one artist has recorded as many solidified b-boy jams as James Brown, he cannot be beaten, there are so many JB tunes fit for b-boying if you cannot remember the last time you played JB at a jam then you need to take a good hard look at yourself. Mr Brown is practically responsible for modern music and everything that comes with it, his music is the foundation of b-boying and its important not to let people forget that!


There are many disco breaks that work for b-boying (Chocolate Jam Co, Superrappin Theme, I Just Wanna Do My Thing, Fessor Funk, Dexter Wansel, Tango Hustle, Captain Sky, Can You Get It Suzie Ceaser etc etc). None of these records feature disco string sections or programmed drums. These records contain a raw funk edge, camp disco and b-boyin are two things which I feel do not mix, it might work for handstands and high chairs but thats about it

Pleasing everybody:

F*ck that! It’s never gonna happen, everyone has different tastes so sure if you know what someone likes and you respect them you can try cater towards them but its impossible to know what everyone likes. Learn your history, learn your roots, learn the dance and then believe in what you play. If anyone ever has a problem with anything I play I got no problem putting on my “F*CK YOU I BREAK BETTER” t-shirt and show them what the t-shirt really means to whatever song / break it is they are complaining about, the way i see it “if I can b-boy to it and you can’t then you’re ignorance is not my problem”. If you are someone like Ken Swift, Alien Ness, Storm, Fabel or can dance a lot better than me & you complain then I might admit you got a point, if your not / can’t then you need to work harder!

Timber – Bad Taste Crew / Zulu Kingz / Horsepower

Bad Taste Crew / Mighty Zulu Kingz / Horsepower DJ Militia


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