Digital DJ Tips member DJ LABVL writes: “I’m getting ready to DJ at a frat party later this month, but I’m having a problem: I’m gonna be playing for a huge crowd of gyrating teens/young adults who wanna grind to hip hop and trap music. The guy in the frat that I know said to play ‘like 90% trap music – everybody’s gonna be drunk and grinding’.
“Well, anyway, I’ve been practising and trying to mix trap music that ranges from 65BPM to 120BPM, and I’m having a hard time getting into the higher BPM ranges without screwing up the mixing and transitions. Do you have any good tips for me?”
Digital DJ Tips says:
A couple of things here. First, hip hop/trap/bass music of this type can get as low as 60BPM and up to 140BPM, so you have an even wider range to contend with! Let me give you the first piece of mixing advice: It is about timing and programming, much more than it’s about mixing.
If you can start a new tune at the beginning of a musical section (intro, verse. chorus, breakdown, drop etc.) and stop the old one at the end of a complementary musical section, and do this with no gap, that’ll be good enough. The skill is really in which tunes you choose, and what order you choose to put them in. Don’t get hung up on beatmixing: Sure, it’s great, but it’s one tool in a box of many. You can easily DJ all night without ever beatmixing.
Secondly, there is a trick for beatmixing widely varied BPMs, and specifically, it works for double or half the BPM. So you can mix a track at 130BPM with one at 65BPM, or any other half/double BPM combination. You should experiment doing that too for huge BPM changes.
Finally, a word of caution about being told what to play at a party. As the DJ, it is your job to quietly know what to play, no matter what anyone else tells you, whether good intentioned or not. I promise you every single person who walks/staggers through the door at that party will have certain songs that will be guaranteed to get them dancing, and that an awful lot of those songs will be in genres other than trap and hip hop.
So don’t take it as read that you’re going to succeed only if you play trap and hip hop, or you’ll fail if you dare to start playing pop, rock, house or anything else that you feel may work. It’s a party, not a specialised music club. Take a plan B set, and a plan C set too. Keep an open mind. Be bold enough to call it on the night. Take risks. That’s what great DJs do.
And good luck…
Do you have any trap mixing tips? Have you been asked to play one type of music, only to end up choosing to play something totally different? How did it go? Please let us know in the comments!