Going Places

Five Local DJs Turning Heads

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Being a good deejay takes a lot more than a love of music and a flashy alias. You need to know what's hot and what's worn out, when to play something and how to blend the beats so the dancing never stops.

A good deejay is also creative and gives the music his own twist, says Chris Stiles, a co-owner of DJ Hut Records in the District and a promoter for the DMC American Battleground turntable competition.

"He'll make records go together that you wouldn't expect," said Stiles, aka DJ Stylus Chris. "A good deejay will take risks. He might do something that makes half the room say, 'What was that?' and the other half say 'That was the greatest thing I ever heard!' "

Washington has produced many hard-working deejays over the years. Stiles said this is partly because the District is a "stepchild of New York," the birthplace of the craft. "Ten years ago, if you weren't from New York, you weren't anybody. . . . [D.C.] deejays always had to prove they were worthy of the name."

The District's reputation has grown since then, with local deejays such as DJ Enferno winning national competitions, and others, like the duo Deep Dish, headlining the international circuit.

It doesn't hurt that Washington is home to so many hot spots, from one-room lounges to mid-size dance halls to multi-floor megaclubs that can hold thousands. Aspiring turntablists can try to get a first gig on a mid-week night at a smaller venue. When they have the skills and reputation, they can move up to weekends or bigger, flashier clubs such as Platinum or Crossroads.

These five D.C. deejays are examples of mixers who have paid their dues, honed their craft and built up a following.

-- Seth Hamblin

DJ ALIZAY

Alizay's live radio broadcasts from Club H2O on Saturday nights capture the talented deejay, right, in his element as he cuts between hip-hop and R&B hits from the likes of Busta Rhymes, Dem Franchize Boyz and Beyonce. He quickly switches up between tracks, extends intros and scratches during transitions to rally the upscale urban crowd.

Alizay, aka Isaiah Johnson, 25, caught the ear of WKYS when he was 19 and was given an internship. Now he has a daily mix show that highlights his skills and the hottest new tracks. His moniker, "The Young Boss," reflects that early rise.

Deejaying runs in his family, with seven of Alizay's uncles steeped in the craft. One of them passed the torch when Alizay was 13 by giving him a set of old Technics turntables. Alizay practiced cutting and mixing over and over again with copies of Big Daddy Kane's "Ain't No Half-Steppin' " until he got the hang of it. Soon he was rocking parties all over town.


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