Ask a DJ

December 1, 2008

Everything impacts music - politics, technology, economics - and it was a DJ's job to create soundtracks that explained how it all came together. We did the research, separated the good from bad, and invested our time so our listeners wouldn't have to. But then the Internet came along and changed things - a lot. FatFingaz, a New York City party rocker and turntablist, takes us on a tour of the DJ's evolution of musical consumption. -Mike Gadd

The early '90s

My mom is pretty hip, and there was a big rock influence at home growing up. She'd listen to Wu Tang with me, and I'd listen to Lenny Kravitz with her. Having an ill subscription to Columbia House-12 [CDs] for a penny - made it even better.

Late '90s and early 2000s

I come from an era where I had to go out to get that exclusive record. There wasn't downloading. I wasn't getting serviced by labels. Having an official version or a bootleg version of a record really mattered. If you had the bootleg, you were just amongst everybody else. There was a materialistic sense within the DJ scene. It was about having that piece of wax!


I learn about music by traveling, touring and doing research online. I trade a lot of music with my peers. The accessibility the Internet gives has expanded things so much. The MP3 made it easy. It's damaging in a way, because no artist is exclusive anymore. That's one of the reasons why some artists aren't getting album deals and are just getting single deals. They exploit one song and live off it for a few months. By the time the album drops, they're forgotten. There aren't many albums nowadays that I know front to back. At one point, people were painting Picassos. Now they're just throwing up little Sharpie tags.