The What to Play Dilema aka Why I don’t take requests
Some friends make fun of me not taking requests. I don’t mind being asked to play something but if I end up playing your request, I was going to play it anyways and if I don’t then there’s a legitimate reason, and you gotta understand where I’m coming from as a DJ.
One of the challenges about djing is the balance between playing what I know you want to hear and simultaneously trying to educate you and play something you might have never been exposed too. Its a fine line to walk. If I play everything you hear on the radio all the time then nothing really sets my music selection apart and if I’m self indulgent and play all the stuff I personally love to listen too then I’m not doing my job.
What makes this even more difficult is my love for 90’s Hip-Hop. Its my true love, my passion. I love an audience who connects with that. A crowd who appreciates that theme. I can play all the classics they love and from time to time introduce them to a b side they may have never heard or some obscure artist that never got the lime light.
Popular Hip Hop makes things more difficult. A crowd that wants all current hits can be a challenge. I can appease those crowds. I can play what I know is on heavy rotation on the radio. I can hold my own with any pop radio dj. But I’m not happy as an artist. There’s no expression from me or my musical taste.
But this is where it can get fun. Not everything on the radio is terrible. There are cuts that I truly appreciate and there is stuff that I would never listen to on my own but gets a fun reaction from crowds. I can play those songs, I can use that energy. But I have to take you on a trip with me. You have to trust me as your guide, we cant just go in the direction you have been trained to go by radio dj’s. There has to be an opportunity for me to show you my musical taste.
There’s also the element of timing. Look I know what songs are popular. I know what the hottest songs are on the radio, and I’m going to play some of them. But WHEN I play them is just as important. If you approach me with a request to play the hottest song out at the start of the night that’s not going to work for me. We need to get to the right time to listen to that track together and that requires careful planning. Let me decide when that time is right.
I’m not inflexible, I can accommodate audiences but you gotta trust me. Listen to what I play on my soundcloud and youtube. Is it aligned with the audience? If yes then I’m your man. If its not then I can probably recommend someone who would be a better fit and I have no hard feelings about being passed up for your gig.
What’s your thoughts? Should I take requests? Let me know!