This is an issue which has concerned me for a while and it centers around they way the “the scene” or more importantly “promoters” value MC’s/hosts.
If you look at any dark DnB flyer from the last 15 or so years, you will see a clear pattern, DJ’s at the top and MC’s at the bottom, most of the time each DJ will have info in brackets next to their name, info such as labels they release on, how long their set is, radio stations they rep etc … The MC’s get none of that 95% of the time, granted there are a few limited exceptions, but on the whole, none of that info is present.
Then, alongside that, there is set times/expectations … Its safe to say that a standard DJ set is 1 hour, some promoters have shorter sets in an effort to try and get more DJ’s on the line up, but for the most part, DJ’s are booked and paid to play for 1 hour per set … MC’s are often booked in 2 hour slots, and usually end up doing more on the night.
Now you might think that none of this seems strange at all, that’s because sadly, its become the norm, I speak from personal experience and I can assure you that in the darker end of the DnB spectrum, MC’s are not treated as equals.
MC’s that spit over dark DnB are generally much more lyrical and intricate than their “jump up/mainstream” counterparts, the gigs are usually less frequent, making it much harder to pursue music as a full time career, only a handful make it to the top, they have to work much harder and in most instances receive less money for their efforts than the DJ’s they share a stage with.
Even when you get down to the bare basics, DJ’s will have all the equipment provided, Technics, CDJ’s, mixer and most importantly, monitor speakers … The MC’s equipment is always an afterthought, its quite rare to see a working “vocal monitor” in a club, no monitor means the MC can’t hear themselves and have no reference for their projection level, when MC’s can’t hear properly they generally project their vocal louder to compensate … The result is similar to having a conversation with a person who is wearing headphones, if you speak to them they will answer you in a louder voice than normal, it’s a natural response.
A good DJ/MC combination can really enhance a live set so why is it that MC’s are getting the rough end of the deal ?
In my experience, writing and memorizing lyrics can take just as long as producing and mixing down a track and in my opinion its no less creative … A DJ/producer will put his heart and soul into a track and spend hours in front of a PC, an MC will do the same with a pad and a pen … Rehearsing cadence and structuring delivery takes just as much dedication and skill as practicing your mixes over and over again until you get them right … In fact, there is very little difference in the creativity and level of work, time and effort each artist has to put in order to succeed … There is one key difference that is worth mentioning, in a live setting, a DJ will always have the safety net of being able to “blame the equipment” if shit goes wrong, if they fuck up a mix, they can always say “the needle jumped” or “the CD slipped” … MC’s have never had that luxury.
I’m not saying that MC’s deserve more than the DJ’s, I just think they should be treated as equals in terms of pay and working conditons. After all, they’ve been an integral part of the culture for just as long as the DJ’s.
Do you think an Exit night or a Metalheadz event would have the same vibe without SP:MC ? … What about a Hardware event without the lyrical intricacies of MC Fokus and Stapleton ? … Can you imagine a Tech:nology or Blackout event without 2shyMC & Codebreaker amping things up ? … How do you think a Soul:ution event would pan out without DRS ?.
I’m sure if you we’re to speak to all these guys, they wouldn’t moan about it publicly, all of the guys I’ve mentioned are professionals and very humble, I’m sure that they, like most other people have accepted the situation as the norm, so for the most part, they just get on with it.
In closing, I think if we start valuing MC’s as actual artists and treating them as equals, then they would really have the freedom and the confidence to take their craft to the next level and in my opinion, that can only be a good thing for the scene.
Until next time … Peace.