A Bronx Tale

Hip-hop pioneer DJ Jazzy Jay keeps it real

Early beat pioneers like Prince Paul, DJ Premier, and Easy Mo Bee recall the urge to create that drove them to use whatever tools were available: Betamax tapes, reel-to-reel decks, even cassette boom boxes, which were used to manually loop samples recorded off the radio. So it's understandable when some of these old-school sonic alchemists talk negatively about current digital technologies like ProTools — powerful, inexpensive PC software that changed the music industry, put some studios out of business, and turned casual homebodies into overnight producers.

But in the segment titled "Hip Hop Today: Under Construction," the titans are philosophical as well, allowing that new technologies (such as the widely available '80s gear by Japanese companies like Roland and Akai) gave them their entry into the business. For a new generation of beat stylists, it's still about the spirit of invention, the thrill of transcending material limitations: not so much what you're working with but what you do with it. — J. Niimi

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