It was such a beautiful experience having a foreigner like Diplo come down to Nigeria to play our own songs and do it in a professional way; mixing it from the old school to the new school, hyping and all sorts, it gave life to the audience vibing to the mix.
From this ‘Diplo’ experience, you should be able to deduce what will make you a professional DJ. Enjoy Reading and learning.
Setting up Diplo’s equipment took a long embarrassing process and numerous failures at the 2017 edition of annual concert Gidi Fest.
But the fans didn’t mind.
The night which had already been marred by rainfall could not get worse than it has already. Eventually everything was fixed. Diplo, the international DJ of the night was announced, and as he began his performance, the speakers failed.
“We tried, but the rain defeated us,” the DJ said with a hint of resignation. “One more try.”
That final try yielded success. And for the next hour, Gidi Culture Festival lit up in a way it has never done before. Diplo’s transition skill, and his ability to mix abstract sounds to create new beat patterns on stage held fans spellbound and dancing.
Diplo had done his research and learnt some terms. He gave a shout out to Efe Ejeba, the Big Brother Naija winner, and sued the popular term: “Based on logistics.” He also played run up, a song he created from studying and sampling Nigerian instrumentals.
Diplo’s performance combined both sick mixing, signature sounds, stage craft, engagement and personal performance. We can learn from that.
Eventually, he invited his Major Lazer colleague, Walshy Fire, and together, they hit new heights with the performance. Local flags were waved high and flown, and Vanessa Mdee supplied her dancers to help the process along. Tekno and Mr Eazi had recorded new versions of ‘Pana’ and ‘Leg Over’ for Major Lazer. And as they played them out, the fans orgasmed.
That was one hell of a performance. And on that night, we have had numerous DJs climb that stage and performed his songs.
What was different? Why did Diplo, who has a limited understanding of Nigerian music, move the Nigerian crowd in a way that that Nigerian DJs did not do on the night? Why was he special? Why did he kill his set?
On that night, we have seen DJ Altims, DJ Neptune, DJ Obi, DJ Breezy, and more climb that stage. And only DJ Neptune left there with his glory still intact. DJ Altims had problems with transitioning. DJ who had the longest set____, dulled the crowd. DJ Breezy’s set was too weak, it was blown away by the breeze.
Diplo’s performance combined both sick mixing, signature sounds, stage craft, engagement and personal performance.
First, a typical DJ set in Nigeria works on a template. Start with mid-tempo Nigerian sounds, progress to mid-tempo UK and US hits, sneak in a bit of Carribean hits, and depending on the mood, switch up the tempo with Nigerian hits. And when it cannot be sustained, dive into Hip-hop, most preferably with Junior Reid’s opening line on The Game’s ‘It’s Okay’.
“Modern vampires of the city, hunting blood, blood, blood…”
And from there it goes into Trap music, before it switches to old school hits and classic and then it goes back to Nigerian music, and then it ends. Only few DJs work without this template.
The rest of them are specialised DJs, like DJ Babus chasing House Music, but its predominantly pop music DJs that rule the country.
The main problems with DJs in Nigeria is that they have no signature sound. They do mass market to maximise financial gain, and although they do get it, they fail to rise beyond Nigeria. And then the next step is to find a producer to give them a generic beat, put two or three artists on it and drop a single and a video. If they make enough of those singles, they release an album, with generic songs and sounds.
That would grow a DJ to a certain level, and then he plateaus until someone else with more buzz takes over the eye of the public.
DJs need to do more.
Diplo’s performance at Gidifest 2017 is a true testament to immense stage craft. Once a DJ hits the decks for a set, he is an artist, a performing artist, who has to give fans 100 percent of everything. It is no longer about mixing songs. It’s about being the life of the party, and giving fans an experience that they can’t get by listening to a mix. It has to be fresh.
Talk, engage, comment, and dance if you have to, and let the crowd follow your lead, and be moved. Research about the venue, the crowd, and incorporate everything into your perfoemance. Do it once, do it twice, do it thrice. By the fourth time, your tale will grow, and your story will be on its way to legend.
We need more work. We need more performers in the art.
SOURCE: JOEY AKAN