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Deejay competition gives local deejays chance to play for Grandmaster Flash

The College of Humanities Africana Studies is hosting a deejay competition on Feb. 9. The finals take place at Club Congress on Feb. 28.
Alex Guyton

The College of Humanities Africana Studies is hosting a deejay competition on Feb. 9. The finals take place at Club Congress on Feb. 28.

The UA Africana Studies Program and the College of Humanities will be holding a deejay competition for local deejays to participate for a chance to showcase their talents to hip hop recording artist and deejay Grandmaster Flash when he gives a lecture and demo at UA on Feb. 28.

Local deejays sent in three-minute videos of them performing and ten finalists will be chosen to compete in a first showdown and perform for an audience Feb. 9 at Club Congress. From there, three finalists will play for Grandmaster Flash on Feb. 28.

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Zenenga Praise, director of the Africana Studies Program, said the competition is a great way to promote student talent while creating a forum for the public to interact with UA students. The Africana Studies Program wants to promote the diversity in the educational platform. Praise and colleagues hope the competition will bring awareness to the Africana Studies Program while enhancing the talent of UA students and local deejays.

“Hopefully, it is a life-changing experience,” Praise said about the opportunity for the three finalists who will play Feb. 28.

Grandmaster Flash, an inductee into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2007, will mentor the three finalists and give them some tips on their performances. The performing deejays can use turntables, a mixer, a laptop and midi controller for cue points, but Helen Bernard, director of External & Alumni Relations for the College of Humanities, said the use of a DJ controller is prohibited and will lead to disqualification from the competition.

DJ controllers are devices used to help deejays mix music with software, using knobs encoders, jog wheels and other components. Such a device can make it easier for deejays to match up song tempos, but can also make it harder for them to match tempos by ear to see how two songs merge together. 

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The deejays will have four judges to impress. Samantha Taibi, events coordinator with the UA Humanities Administration, shared the names of the four judges for the Feb. 9 show. Jose Hernandez, DJ Apprentice for Hot 98.3 and Andy Dominguez, and DJ Big Brother Beats, are two known deejays in the Tucson area. The other judges are Alex Nava, a professor in Religious Studies and Classics in the College of Humanities, and Kendra Cass, the executive director at 9 Queens.

The finalists will be chosen for their creativity, programming, originality and crowd response. The greater the crowd response, the greater chance the deejay has at learning a few tips and tricks from a hip-hop legend himself.

The deejays should be able to mix multiple genres into a unique and thorough playlist to wow the crowd at both the events. The originality heavily relies on the DJ being able to incorporate all genres, from hip-hop to Acapella, into a mix that sets them apart from other DJs in the area.

The prizes available for the top three winners include the opportunity to play for Grandmaster Flash and receive a few pointers to improve their style. The first place finalist will also receive a high-end DJ mixer or a voucher for similar value redeemable at a local music store. The second place prize is an external hard drive or a voucher for similar value redeemable at a local music store. The third-place prize is a pair of studio headphones or a voucher of similar value redeemable at a local music store.

Round 1 of the deejay competition is a free event open to the public ages 16 and up at Club Congress at 311 E Congress St. from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.


Follow Kirshana Guy on Twitter.


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