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"The Evolution of Hip Hop DJing: A Timeline"

Hip Hop DJing is an intricate art form that has seen significant evolution over the years. DJing started as a simple concept, but as technology advances, so does the complexity of the craft. It has grown from turntables using hand jams and scratches to using sophisticated DJ software and controllers. This article sketches a timeline tracing the evolution of this art form, providing a deeper understanding of the culture and techniques that have shaped hip hop DJing.

The Birth of Hip Hop DJing (1970s)

During the 1970s in the Bronx, a young man named Clive Campbell, known as DJ Kool Herc, incorporated Jamaican sound system culture into parties he would host. He extended breaks in songs, allowing people to dance longer. This concept became known as “break beat” DJing and is considered the birth of hip hop DJing.

Scratching and Turntablism (1980s)

In the 1980s, hip hop DJing took a drastic turn with the introduction of scratching techniques. Influential DJs like Grandmaster Flash and Jazzy Jay began manipulating records by moving them back and forth on the turntable, creating unique sounds. This era is also known for the popularization of beatmatching and beatjuggling, forming a new branch of DJing known as Turntablism.

The Birth of Digital DJing (1990s)

In the 1990s, the DJing world became more digital-friendly, with the introduction of CDJs (Compact Disc Jockeys) and DJ software. DJs now had the ability to mix tracks from CDs, offering a broader selection of music and making their job easier and more accessible.

Towards Advanced Technology (2000s – present)

In more recent years, technology advancements have further reshaped DJing. Virtual DJ, Traktor, and Serato Scratch Live are examples of software that have simplified DJ techniques. Additionally, the emergence of MIDI controllers has allowed DJs to control their mixing software with physical knobs and buttons, providing a more intuitive experience.


The evolution of hip hop DJing reflects the constant innovation in music and technology. From turntables to MIDI controllers, techniques have manifold, providing a diverse landscape for aspiring DJs. Every new technological innovation opens up fresh opportunities for exploration, pushing boundaries and propelling DJing into new frontiers.


1. Who is considered the father of hip hop DJing?

DJ Kool Herc is considered the father of hip hop DJing. He started the tradition of extending breaks in songs, creating a unique space for dancers to showcase their moves, thereby creating the foundation of hip hop DJing.
2. What is scratching in DJing?

Scratching is a DJing technique where the DJ moves a vinyl record back and forth on a turntable to create percussive sounds. It’s a fundamental aspect of hip hop DJing and Turntablism.
3. What are CDJs?

CDJs are a type of digital music player, originally designed to play music from compact discs (CDs.) However, newer versions can play digital music files from USB sticks or SD cards as well, allowing for more versatility and greater access to music.
4. What is a MIDI controller in DJing?

A MIDI controller in DJing is a device that DJs use to control their DJ software. It comes with buttons, knobs, and faders that allow DJs to manipulate their music in a fun and intuitive way.
5. How has technology impacted DJing?

Technology has completely transformed the art of DJing. With the introduction of digital tools and sophisticated software, DJs can now mix, scratch, and manipulate music in ways that would’ve been impossible in the early days of hip hop DJing. Technology has made DJing more accessible and has exponentially increased possibilities for creative expression.


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