Recently, I had the pleasure of attending the sixth annual Camp Flog Gnaw Carnival in Los Angeles. In the midst of the two day festival, in between catching killer sets from Tyler the Creator, Brockhampton, Kehlani, Roy Ayers, and so many more one performance struck a cord with me (no pun intended).
Taco Bennett, one of the founding members of Odd Future had a “DJ” Set titled as “Taco’s AUX set. The crowd packed the main stage to turn up to the latest hip-hop hits DJ’d by Taco using an Auxiliary Cord plugged into a laptop. Although I was more than happy to jam out to Taco playing 2 Chainz’s “Watch Out,” the noticeable lack of transitions from each song (AKA mixing) was a cause for concern. With general admission tickets to Camp Flog Gnaw and other two day festivals like it pricing on average at $200, fans should be experiencing quality in all aspects. Seeing several of your favorite artists in one weekend, isn’t the only part which you pay for at a festival. At that price fans should be hearing sets from actual DJs and not AUX cords plugged into smart phones, tablets, or laptops. By simply pressing or clicking on whatever song is desired to be played next, are we loosing the art-form of DJing? Is it worthwhile to go out to a venue and hear an AUX cord DJ do exactly what you did in the car on the way there?
Hip-hop started with the DJ. This individual is the heartbeat of the party creating a mood and atmosphere for people get down to. Throughout hip hop’s 40+ year evolution, turntable-ism and scratching have gone from an integral part of the music, to a mere afterthought. Camp Flog Gnaw 2017 was far from my first encounter with an AUX Cord DJ set. This is a growing trend in hip hop and modern party culture. L.A. based party crew and online radio show hosts HAM On Everything regularly throw events which feature AUX Cord sets. But this is not an attack on any particular person or group for allowing the AUX cord to step in for actual mixing. It’s a simple observation of the simplification of live music as it evolves.
Past decades had jazz, soul, funk, and Rock N Roll bands playing live instruments. As hip-hop’s popularity grew so did the DJ, the 808, and the drum machine. Although live instrumentation in hip-hop and R&B hasn’t vanished into thin air thanks to bands like The Roots, Phony Ppl, The Internet, none the less, today’s musical climate doesn’t call for live bands like it use to. People under age 30 should ask themselves ‘how many acts they listen to perform live with a DJ or if the artist(s) are DJs themselves? The art of live mixing could be trumped all together by the AUX Cord. Thus the mechanic of a turntable used as an instrument, mixing, scratching, and cross-fading all become irrelevant as the DJ looses his or her musicianship when the AUX is plugged in instead. Furthermore, most modern DJing software eliminates the use of turntables or CDs all together. Does it matter to you whether or not the person on stage plays music through a mix or simply adds to que? Or is it all about hearing that one track that gets you on the dance floor every single time?
Personally, I believe that in any capacity one should never pay money to see an AUX Cord DJ set. Whether you’re out at a bar or club with friends, or gathering around for the opening DJ for your favorite rapper. But if you’re not a of connoisseur quality, then what difference does it make?
Leave a comment expressing your stance on AUX Cord DJs making or breaking hip-hop.