This is a personal pet peeve of mine. I absolutely hate it when DJs scream over tracks on mixtapes. When I listen to a song, I want to hear the beat and the vocalist’s lyrics as they are intended to be heard without having either of those things drowned out every few seconds by some DJ screaming their name, some sort of non-sequitur or playing a lame sound effect over the track.
It all started when I was much younger, barely out of middle school and I was listening to a song with some of my friends and heard “DJ Clue” echoing over the beat. The first time I heard it, it was jarring and annoying but I thought it would be a one-time thing that wouldn’t crop up again during the song. Boy was I wrong. From then on, I’ve deeply despised DJs who scream over the tracks they’ve produced.
The most recent offender I’ve heard is Royce Da 5’9”s The Bar Exam 3, which was apparently produced by DJ Whoo Kid of G-Unit fame. After listening to it for about 20 minutes or so, I started to pine for the previously announced but then unreleased “No DJ” version of the mixtape. I could not stand listening to the mixtape and hearing gunshot sound effects and the incredibly annoying “Whoooooo Kiiiid” sound bite playing every few seconds when I was trying to hear Royce himself. Needless to say, when the “No DJ” version was released last week, I didn’t hesitate to delete the original version and replace it with this new, screaming DJ and annoying sound effect free, version.
At no point should I be struggling to hear the artist on their own song because you’re either screaming your name, yelling some random nonsense or talking over them. This is not making me want to listen to more of your work. If anything, it makes me want to avoid your music, not to listen to more of it.
Old-school Hip-Hop DJs and producers didn’t need to scream over tracks they produced and yet, listeners could still readily identify their work. Why? Because they have a “hook” or a signature sound. Instrumentals by the likes of Pete Rock and Q-Tip are immediately recognizable because it’s so easy to attribute the sound of the music to their typical compositional style.
DJs, producers, I love you guys. Without you, Hip-Hop wouldn’t be as great as it is today and wouldn’t have been as amazing as it has been in the past but please, stop screaming and playing ridiculous sound effects over tracks. I completely understand that you have to do something to get your name out there and to give your listeners some idea that you’re the one who produced a mixtape or a particular track but yelling your name intermittently over tracks is nothing if not annoying and isn’t going to help your reputation at all.
Unless you want to be known as one of the most annoying DJs in the game, that is.