Seattle’s hip-hop scene isn’t shit. That is a factual statement. Save me the “we have OG’s and history…blah…blah…fucking blah.” In terms of hip-hop as a WHOLE, we have Sir Mix-A-lot and Macklemore.

We have supplied countless “underground” emcees like The Blue Scholars, Onry Ozzborn, and Common Market, all of whom thrived at one point, but when we’re talking big picture hip-hop industry, no one has these guys on their radar. This is not a slight against Seattle, our local hip-hop community, local DJs, or the OGs and artists that have paved the way to today.

When we take an honest look at the hip-hop industry, Seattle isn’t shit yet.

Many issues that exist in Atlanta, LA, NY, and other industry meccas,  also exist in our local scene. Some of these issues might seem specific to Seattle, but overall, their not. The city’s industry infrastructure is perfectly in tact and seriously out of touch with supporting their own culture.

We’ve touched on how politics within a local scene are present all over the country before. In our article on Houston rapper StackzTooTrill, we discussed these politics and how they hold certain artists back. We’ve also spoken about how Seattle’s radio does not show love to local hip-hop. Today I wanted to talk about another side of our issue with Seattle’s hip-hop scene, the local DJs.

Thanks to the rise of EDM music, being a DJ is a popular thing to be nowadays. Along with this new popularity comes incredibly inexperienced DJs who just bought a controller off their cousin’s friends last week and are now “booking” shows. Ok hol’ up, that’s a completely different topic. Today I wanted to discuss the lack of local music played by local DJs.

Gifted Gab called out local DJs today to see who is really playing local music on a regular basis. While plenty of comments came in with “I do,” anyone who frequently steps out knows this isn’t the case. It was comedy to read the thread because our team is actively attending local shows and club nights every single week and weekend.

Local DJs usually play the top 40 hits, the shit that’s popping in the streets, and they usually play the old school classics. They (as a whole…on average) don’t play our local legends. It is clear that most local DJs aren’t actively engaged in building our local scene. It’s not to say they don’t have the pressure of job security and crowd anticipation, or simply maybe they don’t like a lot of local Seattle music. They may not think anything locally is “hot” for the atmosphere they’re spinning in. Those are all valid reasons to not play local music, but I don’t think the scene as a whole has grasped how far-reaching the impact of this mistake really is.

The mistake of overlooking local hip-hop on your set list is crippling to our local industry, one that DJs benefit from. The more popping Seattle is, the higher the demand for anything Seattle hip-hop is. The more attention, the more partnerships, the more A&Rs, the more national coverage etc. That collective success doesn’t only shine on the artist who is popping, it actually trickles down (damn I sound like a fucking Republican).

As a DJ, you hold a great power. You command the room. You have a direct impact on Facebook posts the next day reading, “last night was like the BEST,” from girls everywhere. Most importantly, DJs hold the power of influence. You get to put people on to things they don’t know about! You play the record that has everyone asking “what song was that” as soon as that song ends, just before the 14th record from Future starts up.

I understand that our hip-hop scene lacks a higher level of quality club records, but I also hear what y’all are spinning. I know a good handful of local artists that have joints that could easily fit into your rotation.

That whole “people don’t care about local hip-hop” shit isn’t true. We’ve been running a local hip-hop blog for 7 years and guarantee you that people care about good music when they find out. WE need to help them learn about local artists.

I don’t care if the artist isn’t your friend, isn’t in your clique, or what the fuck ever. I care that you play that shit because it’s Seattle. Put on for the city, take pride in the city, and help build the city from the inside out.

This post is in no way meant to call out, disrespect, or discredit local DJs and those who have paved the local hip-hop lanes before us. This is an attempt at an honest, introspective look at where our scene stands in the national light and how we can climb higher together. If any of us win individually, we all win. I don’t want to gas up a scene that doesn’t thrive, I want us to win.

– Mitch Pfeifer