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Dubspot Radio Podcast: DJ Amir (Live Boogie Mix) + Interview

This episode of Dubspot Radio welcomes an impressive live vinyl mix from hip hop veteran Amir Abdullah, founder of 180-Proof Records and one of the original kings of beat diggin’.

DJ Amir

Spending a lifetime of collecting vinyl, Amir has unearthed records far and wide, pulling from the best in jazz, funk, soul, jazz, R&B, Latin, reggae, and hip-hop. As part of the illustrious beat digging duo Kon & Amir, the duo have salvaged some of the greatest music you’ve never heard gaining legendary status worldwide from some of the most beloved beat diggers, DJs, and producers in the game.

This podcast brings the music directly to the people in true Amir fashion. While listening be sure to check out our interview, in which Amir talked about growing up in a musical household in Boston, moving to New York and joining the ‘I Love Vinyl‘ collective, touring Europe and Asia with his music partner Kon, and much more.



DJ Amir Interview

DJ Amir

Tell us a little about yourself.

My name is Amir Abdullah a.k.a. DJ Amir, originally from Boston, but I’ve been in New York for seventeen years. I grew up in a musical household. My father was a Jazz record collector, and my mother listened to gospel and soul. My siblings listened to jazz and disco. These are some of the things that influenced me to do what I do today, which is collecting records and DJing.

How long have you been collecting records, DJing, and working in the music industry?

I have been collecting records for thirty years and DJing for ten. I’ve also worked in the music industry as an executive for fifteen years. I’ve been able to see both sides of the music. So music is my life.

Tell us about your mix and where it was recorded.

I recorded the mix live at a party called ‘I Love Vinyl’ that we have in Brooklyn at Southpaw and sometimes at Manhattan’s Le Poisson Rouge.

What made you focus on that specific sound?

I chose that particular mix of songs because at every ‘I Love Vinyl,’ I try to play different stuff. I try not to play the same stuff. So at that time, in October I believe, it was still warm in New York, so I was playing warm type of music. Since I was going first, I wanted to warm up the party with some soulful music to get people dancing. I played a lot of soulful boogie music. It still felt like summertime, just the tail end of summer.

Tell us about ‘I Love Vinyl.’

The concept was created by this guy DJ Scribe. He came to me and four other DJs and said: “Hey, I have the idea of doing this all vinyl party.” I was a little hesitant at first because there are six of us, and I wondered how we were going to pull off a party with six people. Also, having to drag vinyl crates along was crazy since there heavy and can be worn down. But it just worked.

Before ‘I Love Vinyl,’ what other parties were you playing?

I’ve played all kinds of parties and have traveled overseas a lot. I’ve been to Asia four times to DJ, and Europe almost thirty times. I’ve played everything from festivals to small and big club venues. I like to play really deep disco, funk, soul, and Latin music that is just timeless, and feels good even if you don’t know who it is.

How do you balance what the crowd wants to hear when you play out versus what you want to play?

Well, I’ve been fortunate enough that I’ve not been in too many situations where I had to play something that I don’t want to play. For the most part, when I’m playing in a club, I’m playing what I want to hear. I have a good feeling or a good intuition of what people like or what will make people move. Even if you don’t realize it, it gets you into a mood to dance and have a good time. I’ve never really had to deal with people coming up to me like “Hey, can you play Lady Gaga?” I’ve had that happen to me before and I just politely say it’s not that type of party and I show them the flyer that is just soulful disco or whatever. Usually, people will understand, but you know obviously, sometimes you have people that just are not hearing that, and they just want to hear what they hear on the radio. I have to say go home because you can hear that stuff for free on the radio. But I’ve been fortunate enough to not have to deal with that too much.

How do you introduce crowds to new types of music?

You try to mix it in with well-known records. You can’t just play a party with stuff the audience have never heard. You start with something familiar, and then you slip in a song they’ve never heard, but it’s in the same kind of mood, the same kind of key, and it’s still danceable. Most people will respond to that. They’re going to respond well to the music that’s moving them. You see it in people’s faces like “I don’t know what this is” but their body is still moving. When it’s bad, then they’re looking up like what is this, and they’ve stopped dancing.

Besides your traditional DJ setup, do you use anything else when playing out?

I use two turntables and a mixer. When I’m not playing vinyl, then I’m using Serato. That’s pretty much it.

How do you think the concept of DJing has changed over the past ten years?

Definitely with the introduction of Serato and the greater influence of CDJs, DJing has changed a great deal in the sense that technology provides you with more access to your collection of music to play out. You can be more well rounded without having to carry tons of crates of records to gigs. Also, you can play a lot of stuff that was never on vinyl at all. You can play a lot of remixes and edits that you can do yourself or that someone else has done that you know, so that opens up a lot of things. On the flip side, I think that because of the technology, it gives you easier access to music, and it feeds the population who think it’s easy to DJ. A lot of us make it look easy, but there’s a lot of hard work to it. It’s not an easy thing to do. It’s an actual job. If you’re a serious DJ, you take it seriously as a job that you go to 9 to 5, and you try to do the best that you can. I think with the advent of technology everybody and their mother thinks they can DJ now, and it wasn’t always like that. Ten years ago, there were still people that wanted to DJ, but you had to have a lot of character to do the hard work of learning how to DJ because it wasn’t easy. There was at the least CDJs, but when people were rocking CDJs, it still was something that very few people were using other than house DJs. Most people were still dragging their vinyl to gigs. It’s definitely changed. Sometimes technology can make things better, but sometimes it can make things a little worse.

Where do you go to find records, and what do you look for?

I look for it all. I look for new and old records. I’ve been collecting for thirty years, and I definitely look for records for specific reasons, either records to DJ out or records to put on the next compilation. I also look for jazz records that I don’t have for listening to at home and add to the collection. A lot of times I’m looking for records that I’ve never seen before and have never heard of the artist or the label. It could be a genre of music I know nothing about, or could be music from other countries like funk beats from Indonesia or something like that. I always wanted to keep an open mind with music, and I don’t want to have a prejudice to any type of music.

What are some of your most treasured finds, and recent records that you can’t get out of your head or can’t stop playing?

Well, there are a lot of those. I used to work at a record store called A1 Records, and there are just massive amounts of records in that store. Sometimes, I just can’t keep up. One day I was working, and there was a record just laying on the ground. It was not in a sleeve or in a jacket, and a few people that worked there were so busy that they were stepping on the record. I happened to pick the record up, and it was one of the rarest disco 12” records out there! I cleaned it off, and it wasn’t too badly scratched so I bought it from the store for like a dollar because nobody there knew it so they were like you can have it. That was a gold find. I love that song and always will. I won’t play it out too much because I don’t want to ruin it or lose it, so I saved it as a file on my computer. I can now play it out of Serato as well. There are so many records like that that I’ve gotten for free or close to being free just because not everyone is going to know everything about records. As much as you think you know about records, the more you learn about records, and the more you learn to know nothing. It’s just a continuous process that you continue to learn.

Tell us about a record that you heard and didn’t like the first time you heard it, but eventually grew on you?

Yeah, I go through that a lot. I might have bought a record like ten years ago, and listened to it thinking “Eh, I don’t like that record.” Then you listen to it now, and you’re like “Wow, what was I thinking, this track is incredible!” It’s all because what happens is your musical tastes mature. Like how you grow as an adult in life, and how some things that you didn’t like ten years ago but now your like “Oh you know what, it’s actually not that bad.” It’s the same thing with music; your music tastes change. You may have never been into disco at a younger age, but now you might be into disco or vice versa. It’s all about your musical tastes changing, and you evolving as a person. Your music taste changes and evolves as well.

Are you surprised by any particular sound you’re into right now?

Yes, ten years ago I wasn’t really into Brazilian music, and I didn’t care for it but over the past couple of years, I’ve really gotten into Brazilian music. I feel kind of bad because I got into it a little later than I should have been. I probably could have been playing Brazilian records back then, but I didn’t really care because I was all into either disco or breaks or hip hop or something else. That’s why you gotta be able to keep an open mind because you could be missing out on something really precious in music.

Any advice for up and coming DJs?

My partner Khan and I have been very blessed for the last fifteen years doing what we love and that’s to put out music whether it’s from a mixtape, album, compilation album, 12” edit, a remix 12”, touring the world, going on Giles Peterson’s radio show or touring with Giles Peterson. Things are great to me. It’s a blessing that I get to travel the world free; that’s an amazing thing, and I would encourage people that are really into music whether it be production wise or DJing to really follow your passion because it can pay off in the long run. You just got to have the strength and the passion to follow through on them.

Like I said you have to look at it in the long term when you practice your craft and really take it seriously and try not to follow everybody else. Try to blaze your own trail so that you can find that niche for yourself or find a way for yourself to be successful. Being successful sometimes equals a lot of heartbreak. They’re a lot of times where you’re going to be tested and you might want to give up but you can’t, you have to keep with it if it’s something you truly love. You got to have the strength and the character to get through these hard times. It is hard for everybody right now, but hard times bring out the most creative people and the creative juices in a lot of people to make great things that are culturally significant or add on to culture in a significant and positive way.


About DJ Amir

From an early age, Amir’s ears were saturated with the sounds of jazz, gospel, soul, and disco coming from his parents’ stereo. When he got old enough, Amir escaped into the world of hip -op. But instead of the clean break he had intended, he discovered his parents’ music sampled in the music of his peers. Intrigued, Amir found himself tracing ties inside the music, soon tirelessly.

Amir has been a man on a mission ever since. He’s braved strange and dangerous locations for the rarest wax, dealt with the shadiest characters and collectors, and had his knowledge called upon by some of the biggest names in hip-hop. It was kismet that Amir would meet fellow crate digger and kindred spirit Kon in 1996, and the two became fast friends and collaborators. Beginning with the esteemed underground On Track mixtape series, Kon & Amir have released ten compilations, including four volumes of Off Track, the follow-up to the On Track series. Shady Records, Pete Rock, Diamond D, and Capitol Records (to name a few) have called upon Kon & Amir’s expertise. And Amir’s own client list has included Dilla, Madlib, Big L, Common, Dilated Peoples, Mandrill, The Mizell Brothers, Lyman Woodard and Dennis Coffey.

It was also during the 90s that Amir began working at labels. Starting out in an entry-level position at Fat Beats, Amir quickly rose through the ranks to become VP of Sales. Since then, Amir has worked as an A&R for Rapster/!K7 Records, Sales Manager for ABB Records, and Label Manager of Wax Poetics Records. Recently, he produced and curated the Strata Records exhibit for the Scion IQ Museum, and is coordinating the reissue of the two ultra-rare Newban albums on BBE, a project he brought to the label. And he is starting his own label, 180 Proof.

As half of Kon & Amir, and on his own, Amir has toured the world, building an underground following into a worldwide network of fanatical fans. In a world where anybody with a laptop, or even an iPod, fancies themselves a DJ, Amir is here to keep the true tradition of the DJ alive.

Connect with Amir on Facebook | SoundCloud | Website


DJ Extensive Program

Immerse yourself in the complete art of DJing: from the fundamentals of beatmatching and mixing to using effects and programming extended club sets. Whether you’re a beginner wanting to learn fundamentals or a seasoned pro looking to take your talent to the next level, our curriculum is designed to accommodate all skill levels and styles of music. This comprehensive DJ program covers everything from basic mixing to advanced digital DJing with both Serato Scratch Live and Traktor Scratch Pro.

About This Program

At Dubspot you’ll be working at personal student workstations equipped with industry standard and cutting-edge technology: Technics SL-1200 / 1210 series turntables, Pioneer CDJs, Pioneer DJM or Rane TTM mixers, Apple iMacs and MacBook Pros, Native Instruments’ Traktor Scratch Pro, Serato Scratch Live, vinyl, CDs, timecode, and MIDI controllers.

Our instructors teach you the necessary techniques and draw on their vast collective experience to give you insight into the mindset, workflow, and art of DJing. Graduates of the DJ Extensive Program will have an opportunity to perform at an event in a New York City venue, organized and promoted by Dubspot together with you and your fellow students. At Dubspot, we want you to do more than just learn. We want you to be great at doing what you love. Let us help you get there!

What’s Included

  • DJ Level 1: Rookie Sessions | Essentials I
  • DJ Level 2: Phrase Mixing | Essentials II
  • DJ Level 3: Beyond The Blend | Intermediate Skills
  • DJ Level 4: Preparation | DJ Psychology
  • DJ Level 5: Classroom to the Club | Advanced Techniques I
  • DJ Level 6: Club to the World | Advanced Techniques II

Additional Information

Visit the DJ course page for detailed information on this program here.

If you have questions, please call 877.DUBSPOT or send us a message.


The post Dubspot Radio Podcast: DJ Amir (Live Boogie Mix) + Interview appeared first on Dubspot Blog.

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Dubspot Top Picks: 10 Choice Studio Monitors

This Dubspot Top Picks guide features a selection of our favorite studio monitors based on professional quality sound, affordability, and accuracy.

 Studio Monitors


Dynaudio BM5 mkIII

Dynaudio BM5 mkIII

The BM5 mkIII is the latest generation of successful nearfield active monitors that arguably deliver performance superior to many larger, more expensive monitors. The hand-crafted drivers are both equipped with a 75 mm pure aluminum wire voice coil capable of giving you a wide frequency response of 42Hz to 24kHz. The low end of your mix is heard from an extended excursion 7″ woofer while the 1.1″ soft dome tweeter with a waveguide lends to less acoustical reflections and a more accurate sweet spot in the mix position. The BM5 MKIII also features HF, MF, and LF analog room filter settings to help you tailor the monitors response to your acoustic space plus highpass filters at 60/80Hz for perfect subwoofer adaption.

Read more at Dynaudio

Behringer TRUTH B2031A

Behringer TRUTH B2031A

The TRUTH B2031A monitors are another wildly successful nearfield solution for those looking for a professional sound at an affordable price. Due to their high-resolution performance, the B2031A’s boast 265 Watts of bi-amplified output to an ultra-responsive, long-throw 8.75″ polypropylene woofer providing tight and accurate bass while the ultra-high resolution 1″ ferrofluid-cooled tweeter gives you crystal-clear highs. As a result, the B2031A provides a ruler-flat frequency response from 50Hz-21kHz, with tight and accurate low end, articulately-detailed mids, and crystal-clear highs. Behringer has also included a selection of rear-panel frequency control switches enabling the user to tune the speakers to taste.

Read more at Behringer

Focal Twin6 Be

Focal Twin6 Be

Focal holds a strong reputation for developing some of the best professional sounding monitors out there. The image precision, treble definition, and midrange accuracy of the Twin6 Be makes these nearfield monitors a necessary solution for recording, mixing, and mastering. Furthermore, the design of the Twin6 Be permits a high SPL while at the same time offering a stable tonal balance. One of the two 6.5″ woofers works in a wide midrange band, whereas the other reproduces sound from 40Hz to 150Hz. This separation creates a clean bass that preserves all the signal dynamics, without any masking effect in the midrange, thereby keeping all its neutrality and transparency. Overall, the inverted-dome tweeter and dual-woofer technology boast an extremely clear, near-linear 40Hz-40kHz frequency response, which puts the Twin6 Be’s sonic reach outside the range of human hearing. Once you hear these versatile monitors in action, you’ll know why they are Focal’s best seller.

Read more at Focal


Equator Audio D5

Equator Audio D5

The D5 nearfield studio monitors are reemerging with all new enhancements geared for the recording professional seeking a small, affordable, and accurate monitoring system. The coaxially designed transducer with a 5.25″ woofer and a 1″ silk tweeter gives you a frequency response of 53Hz-20kHz. The D5′s share much of the acclaimed Equator Q Series technology to achieve extensive mid-range detail and employ a Zero-Point Reference coaxial design with internal DSP handling numerous tasks to apply pin-point accurate voicing. In addition, the fully extended 1.75″ tuned front port provides an accurate extended low-end response and a boundary selection switch for selecting the appropriate monitor response for their placement in the room.

Read more at Equator


JBL LSR 305/308


Both the LSR 305 AND 308 offer the best bang for the buck. The 308 sports a bi-amplified magnetically-shielded 8” low-frequency transducer and 1” soft-dome high-frequency tweeter with an Image Control Waveguide developed for JBL’s new flagship M2 Master Reference Monitor gives you a frequency response from 37Hz-24kHz. These active studio monitors are a great solution for any serious audio engineer or music producer that requires precise, accurate, detailed sound for an affordable price.

Read more at JBL


Yamaha HS8

Yamaha HS8

The Yamaha HS8 active nearfield studio monitors sport an iconic white-coned woofer that has been ubiquitous in top studios worldwide ever since the original NS-10s hit the scene in the late ’70s. These renowned monitors feature a bi-amplified power capable of up to 120W of total output and features an 8″ cone woofer and a 1″ dome tweeter with waveguide that can produce frequency response from 38Hz-30kHz. The HS Series full-range models feature two response controls with settings that allow them to adapt to the surface acoustics of rooms of varying shape and size. If you’re looking for amazing accuracy, transparency and low coloration, then look twice at these bad boys.

Read more at Yamaha




The A5X is popular among professionals and is found in numerous home studios around the world. It’s open, powerful sound makes the A5X a trustworthy and useful tool for multimedia applications as well. Like all models of the AX-Series, the A5X is equipped with ADAM‘s proprietary X-ART tweeter and a 5.5″ carbon fiber/rohacell/glass fiber woofer driven by a 1.5″ voice coil powered by a 50 Watt PWM amplifier. Its acoustic qualities give you a clear picture of the smallest changes in your mix with a frequency response that reaches from 50Hz-50kHz. In addition to the main gain control on the front panel, the A5X also features a tweeter gain control, a set of high and low shelving controls on the rear panel, and dual bass ports on the front of the cabinet to help extend the bass response.

Read more at ADAM


Genelec M040

Genelec M040

The cleverly designed M040 active nearfield studio monitor offers a neutral and accurate reproduction of the source material. The compact cabinet features rounded edges and a gently curved front and sides, which minimize edge diffraction and provide better imaging. It’s made of a Natural Composite Enclosure that is environmentally friendly, which is a compound of wood fiber and recyclable material. The equipped 6.5″ bass driver along with a 1″ tweeter loaded into a new advanced Genelec Directivity Controlled Waveguide (DCW) deliver optimum dispersion of highs. With a frequency response of 48Hz-20kHz, the M040 is perfect for accurate studio monitoring.

Read more at Genelec


Event 20/20BAS

Event 20/20BAS

First released in 1995, the original 20/20 nearfield studio monitor revolutionized the recording industry and secured itself a place in the hearts of audio engineers around the world over for its truthful reproduction and outstanding sonic character. The 20/20BAS is Event’s latest generation of nearfield studio monitors that have been enhanced to extend the clarity, transparency, and definition we’ve come to enjoy. The 7.1″ woofer and 1″ tweeter provide up to 250W of burst power giving you a frequency response from 20Hz-20kHz. Additionally, Event’s engineering team used ideas and technologies from its flagship Opal speaker to achieve high performance and quality sound.

Read more at Event


Mackie HR624/824mk2

Mackie HR824mk2

With their improved versatility and flexibility, the active nearfield HRmk2 Series monitors are perfect for a wide variety of applications. Whether you need an ultra-accurate monitoring setup for your studio, or you want to add premium sound to your home theater or gaming system, the HRmk2 Series delivers ultimate performance and sound quality that’s ideal for just about any room or setup. The one-piece cast aluminum Zero Edge Baffle features precisely engineered curvature that minimizes diffraction for a crystal clear image of your mix, and effectively controls sound waves so you get detailed lows, full, articulate mids, and shimmering highs. The HR824mk2′s 8.75″ low-frequency driver receives 150 watts from an onboard FR (Fast Recovery) amplifier while the waveguide-loaded aluminum dome tweeter is powered with 100 watts to give you a frequency response from 37Hz-20kHz. These monitors also include time-correction circuitry, which allows the highs and lows to reach the listener at the same time, an active crossover to eliminate phase anomalies, and an Acoustic Space Control function.

Read more at Mackie



Mixing and Mastering Program

Transform rough ideas and basic compositions into dance floor bangers and sonically pleasing commercial quality masters. Learn the well-kept industry secrets of EQ, compression, panning, level balancing, reverb and special effects.

Mixing and MasteringAbout This Program

This program gives you everything you need to refine tracks into a clear commercial quality release, including special mixing and mastering techniques for dubstep, techno, house, trance, downtempo, hip-hop, and the gamut of electronically-produced music. You will learn to mix and master your tracks using the same plugins that top industry engineers use every day, including plugins by Izotope, Soundtoys, Sonnox, Altiverb, and more.

What’s Included

  • Mixing & Mastering Level 1: Mix
  • Mixing & Mastering Level 2: Modify
  • Mixing & Mastering Level 3: Master

Additional Information

Visit the Mixing and Mastering course page for detailed information on this program here. If you have questions, please call 877.DUBSPOT or send us a message.


The post Dubspot Top Picks: 10 Choice Studio Monitors appeared first on Dubspot Blog.

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Point Blank Unveiled As Flagship Native Instruments Education Partner

The relationship between Native Instruments and Point Blank is longstanding and we are thrilled to be the first to be approved under their new ‘Native Education Partner’ scheme.

Native Instruments’ UK Marketing Manager David Eserin commented, “We’ve launched Native Education Partners to highlight premium schools that have NI-trained staff, the latest technology and the most in-depth courses on our products, making them the best place to learn using Native Instruments kit.”   

It’s a natural fit, of course. In July, the first Native Meetup at Point Blank encouraged a community of students and NI users to collaborate, build new skills and share knowledge throughout a day of user and artist-led workshops and seminars. And with our new Orsman Road facility kitted out with state-of-the-art NI equipment and software, there’s few places better suited to hosting these hugely popular events. We’re already looking forward to NI Meetups in October and December.

01 Hub - NI meetup-8

As well as offering a truly unique learning environment and wealth of cutting edge equipment, July’s Meetup took advantage of the specialist NI expertise of Point Blank’s instructors Ben Mallot and David Clarke. Ben, a Ninja Tune-signed artist in his own right, is a Reaktor specialist while David brought his Traktor know-how to a number of DJ, sound design and production workshops. Together, they were on hand to help unlock the potential of these powerful tools for music-making.

Traktor Stems - NI meetup-393

Of course, NI forms a core part of the curriculum here at Point Blank – another reason why we’re a Leading Education Partner. Our range of standalone courses includes Maschine, which commences in October, NI Komplete Online and Traktor DJ Pro Online. These courses are also integrated within our degree and diploma courses, with the Sound Design module using NI instruments like Reaktor and Kontakt as well as Maschine hardware and software. Plus, with full hardware integration in both the LA and London schools, including Komplete on every station, Komplete Kontrol keyboards in all music production studios, Maschine Studios in practise rooms and a classroom with fitted out with Maschine Mk II’s, there’s no better environment in which to learn. Furthermore, our close relationship with NI means our students will always have access to the biggest discounts around, including 30% off the majority of hardware and 50% off software, ensuring NI’s cutting edge technology is accessible to all. For further information on any of our courses, contact our Course Advisors here or call 0207 729 488 or, if you’re in the USA, give us a call on 323 282 7660. If you’re calling internationally, use the number +44 20 7729 4884. Want to see firsthand the amazing facilities offered by Point Blank? You can book a space on one of our studio tours by heading here.

Register to Access Free Courses, Plugins, Projects, Samples & More

When you register with Point Blank, you access an array of free sounds, plugins, online course samples, access to our social network Plugged In and much more! Simply register below and visit our Free Stuff page to get your hands on a range of exclusive music-making tools and tutorials provided by the team. Fill your boots!


The post Point Blank Unveiled As Flagship Native Instruments Education Partner appeared first on Point Blank’s Online Magazine.

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Origins of Hip-Hop Culture

Dubspot’s Rory PQ takes us through history back to the origins of hip-hop and explores the genres explosive cultural evolution.


Hip-Hop Origins

Hip-hop is a culture born from the ashes of disco and the development of funk. During the early 70s, many funk groups began playing disco because at the time it was the latest trend. Drawing from disco production techniques, funk music started to become technology driven as it absorbed more electronic sounds from synthesizers and drum machines. By the mid-70s, funk became the new dance music in urban America.

Hip Hop

Looking back to New York during this era we start to see an economic collapse. New York City was in a fiscal crisis, and the city’s economy was falling apart due to the decline of the manufacturing industry. Much of the white middle class began moving to the suburbs as well, and gang violence was on a rise. Many of the opportunities into the music industry and sources of recreation evaporated. Disco’s and night clubs closed their doors because there wasn’t enough money to pay for the entertainment. As a result, urban youth brought the party to the streets with mobile audio equipment called “Sound Systems” which was introduced by Jamaican culture.

hip hop

During these block parties, DJs would play popular genres of music, especially funk and soul music. Similar to the style of disco DJs in their era, funk DJs would mix together percussive breaks in songs. Blending and mixing breaks was a common technique used in Jamaican dub music and was later introduced to New York mostly by immigrants from the Caribbean. These rhythmic reinterpretations became the most anticipated parts of songs where people danced to the most. A whole new style of dance based on the breaks emerged called breakdancing, or “b-boying.”

hip hop

One of the most influential early hip-hop DJs was DJ Kool Herc, who has been called the “founding father of hip-hop.” Kool Herc would isolate the instrumental section of a record that emphasized the drumbeat, or “break,” and then switch from one break to another using a pair of turntables. He would also play two copies of the same record to extend the break. This breakbeat juggling style of DJing formed the basis of turntablism that heavily influenced the rise of hip-hop music.

Hip Hop

The MC

To hype the crowd at these block parties, DJs were accompanied by a Master of Ceremonies, also known as an MC or emcee. An MC would present the DJs, entertain the crowd, speak or rhyme to the audience, and provide spoken vocals over the music. By the late 70s record labels such as ”Sugar Hill” started to cash in on the growing DJ and MC trend. Some of the first rap music records were recorded by live disco bands and an MC rapping over the music.

hip hop

The Godfather of Hip-Hop

One of the most influential and important figures to emerge from New York’s street music scene was Afrika Bambaataa, also know as “The Godfather.” In many ways, Bambaataa was a visionary who helped guide the city’s youth away from gang violence and into the many expressions of hip-hop culture through DJing, rapping, beatboxing, breakdancing, and visual art. He formed Zulu Nation, a music-oriented movement of creative people who believed in unity through a positive hip-hop culture.

Afrika Bambaataa

Check out “Planet Rock” and “Looking for the Perfect Beat” which are two of Bambaataa’s songs that have become hip-hop anthems.

Early Music Technology

Moving into the late 70s and early 80s music instrument manufacturers began designing more hardware instruments such as the legendary Roland TR-808, which was one of the first programmable drum machines. As rap music developed, we started to see live drummers being replaced by drum machines and an increased use of DJs who would scratch records to add a percussive element to the music. Around this time sampling technology emerged and drum machines became widely available to the general public at a cost that was affordable to the average consumer. DJs also started to become producers and began using sampling technology to piece together breaks in songs rather than using turntables. Legendary samplers like Akai’s MPC allowed producers to take a section of a song and edit it to play as an instrument in a sequence or add extra sounds and texture. Essentially, this technique was early remixing.


Golden Age of Hip-Hop

By the late 80s, hip-hop had spread across the country. Record labels recognized the genre as an emerging trend and started to invest a lot of money into the movement. New scenes and different styles emerged from city to city as the culture popularized. The music quickly developed and became more complex as well. The new generation of hip-hop producers had access to more advanced drum machines and samplers that allowed them to take sampling and layering sounds to the next level. This new era was labeled as the “Golden Age” of hip-hop and lasted throughout the 80s and into the early 90s. During this time period, hip-hop was largely experimental and was being characterized by its sound, diversity, innovation, attitude, and influences from different regions. New and innovative production techniques were being discovered leading to more advanced styles. Even the lyrical content from hip-hop rappers evolved.


Sampling and Copyright

In the early 90s, sampling was being heavy used in rap music. The original copyright owners of the music being sampled were hearing parts of their songs used in new rap music and realized they are not getting paid for it. After many legal actions, copyright enforcement laws were implanted requiring artists to clear all of the samples in advance to avoid lawsuits. Clearing samples was very expensive, and many record labels could not afford to clear all of the samples. Rap music began to take a whole new direction and producers had to start making their own sounds rather than relying heavily on samples. We started to hear a completely different sound because producers were no longer drawing from samples by funk, disco, and rock songs. The music began to lose much of its jazz, soul, and esthetics.

Hip Hop

Global Culture

After the explosion of diversity during the mid-80s and 90s, hip-hop music became more commercial and was the top selling music genre by the late 90s. The popularity of hip-hop music continued through the 2000s and eventually found its way into mainstream pop and electronic music. To this day hip-hop is globally recognized and continues to influence music, styles, and culture around the world. It has become a lifestyle. In the words of KRS-One, “hip-hop is something you live, rap is something you do.”



EDU Summer Sessions

Music Foundations Program

Unravel electronic music’s origins, build your chops, learn musical language and theory, and make and play music the way you want. Students will develop a deeper understanding of the roots and lineage of a variety of electronic and dance music genres, strengthen their keyboard skills, and learn valuable music theory, deepening their creative practice and facilitating effective collaborations with musical partners.

About This Program

The best producers, DJs, and musicians in the world strive to be well-rounded. So should you. In Dubspot’s Music Foundations Program, you’ll explore three major aspects of music: rhythmic theory, melodic theory, and critical listening.

Most pioneering early electronic musicians had years of conservatory training in theory and performance but had access to very limited technologies. In today’s musical world, it’s the opposite: we have a powerful and versatile array of electronic music making tools at our fingertips, but often fall short in our theoretical understanding of how electronic music works.

Our Music Foundations program is designed to fill this gap and provide training in fundamental skills and concepts with the electronic musician, DJ, and producer in mind. In this course, you’ll build your chops and learn the basics of musical language and theory so that you can make and play the music you want. You will also develop a deeper understanding of the roots and lineage of a variety of electronic and dance music genres, and explore compositional techniques and song structure. The weekly homework lessons for all three courses have been designed using Ableton Live, and along the way you’ll also learn the basics of Ableton and how to use it as a powerful tool to improve your musicianship in a variety of ways.

What’s Included

  • Music Foundations Level 1: Pads & Rhythmic Theory
  • Music Foundations Level 2: Keys & Melodic Theory
  • Music Foundations Level 3: Critical Listening

Additional Information

Visit the Music Foundations course page for detailed information on this program here.

If you have questions, please call 877.DUBSPOT or send us a message.


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Introducing Our Newest LA Instructor: Brian Markman

Here at Point Blank, one of our foundational beliefs is that our students should learn from the very best in the music industry. Our elite instructors are established figures, the leaders in their field, and capable of offering students the kind of sound practical knowledge and insider insight that will give them the edge in a highly competitive music business. With this in mind, we’re excited to announce that Point Blank Los Angeles will be welcoming a brand new instructor starting this September.

MarkmaN web crop

Brian Markman may be familiar to some of you already. In May, he led a hugely popular workshop as part of a Point Blank Los Angeles Open House. A renowned engineer, producer and DJ, Markman began his career over 15 years ago playing in acid jazz clubs. One of the first in LA to evolve his sound to include the then-burgeoning influence of drum’n’bass, he became affiliated with the Presha Crew and WreckIgnition, helping to create one of Los Angeles’ first D&B clubs. However, his commitment to musical evolution didn’t stop there – Markman also launched Pull, Los Angeles’ first club devoted to UK garage. Nowadays, his live sets see him combining Ableton Push, Korg Volca synthesizers and Native Instruments plugins to craft his unique, compelling sound that draws on house classicism, garage and bassline.

It’s precisely his devotion to musical and technological developments that ensures Markman remains a vital force within the LA scene – both as an artist and teacher. An Ableton Certified Trainer and former SAE instructor on the Electronic Music Production Program, we’re excited to announce that he’ll be sharing his unique experience and skill set as an instructor of Music Composition.

Mr Carmack PBLA classroom

Thinking of joining us at PBLA? There’s no better time as we’re currently offering 20% discount across all of our courses until the end of September. Book now and you could save yourself up to $2,200, just enter PB20 when you enrol. Our Music Production & Sound Design Diploma course is our most comprehensive course and the ideal foundation on which to build a career in the music industry. Covering production, sound design, engineering (live and in the studio), DJing, mastering, and how to manage a career, the intensive course provides a 360 degree view of your options in the music business upon graduation. For more information, contact a course advisor or, if you’re in the USA, give us a call on 323 282 7660. If you’re calling internationally, use the number +44 20 7729 4884.

Register to Access Free Courses, Plugins, Projects, Samples & More

When you register with Point Blank, you access an array of free sounds, plugins, online course samples, access to our social network Plugged In and much more! Simply register below and visit our Free Stuff page to get your hands on a range of exclusive music-making tools and tutorials provided by the team. Fill your boots!

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MASCHINE Tutorial: Creative Production and Performance Techniques

Learn essential music creation techniques in this three-part video tutorial series exploring the creative production and performance possibilities of Native Instruments’ MASCHINE.


MASCHINE Tutorial Pt. 1/3: Track Building w/ Justin Aswell

Dubspot Instructor and master finger drummer Justin Aswell takes us through his approach to building the foundations of a track in this first installment of a three-part video tutorial series exploring the creative production and performance possibilities of Native Instruments’ versatile MASCHINE Groovebox. Justin demonstrates how to slice up drum breaks, assign samples to pads, and create drum pattern variations. He then proceeds to record a bassline using a MIDI keyboard to give his breaks some meaty low-end and some synth keys for added flavor. Justin then tops the track off with a Tribe Called Quest vocal sample he chops up and edits while offering some fundamental music production techniques and sound shaping possibilities using MASCHINE’s advanced features.

MASCHINE Tutorial Pt. 2/3: Finger Drumming Techniques w/ Justin Aswell

Dubspot Instructor and master finger drummer Justin Aswell explains and demonstrates the fundamentals of finger drumming in this second installment of a three-part video tutorial series exploring the creative production and performance possibilities of Native Instruments’ versatile MASCHINE Groovebox. From hand position and pad placement to adding rhythm variations and flair, Justin Aswell covers some essential tips for someone who is just starting out finger drumming. Justin then goes in further to offer more complex techniques for those who are already familiar with pounding rhythms on pads. At the end of this tutorial, you should have a good grasp of how to play drum pads with your fingers, and those who are not so new to finger drumming can build on their working knowledge of drum programming to become more efficient.

MASCHINE Tutorial Pt. 3/3: Live Performance Techniques w/ Justin Aswell

Dubspot Instructor and master finger drummer Justin Aswell demonstrates several live performance techniques in this final installment of a three-part video tutorial series exploring the creative production and performance possibilities of Native Instruments’ versatile MASCHINE Groovebox. Learn how to integrate MASCHINE into your live setup while Justin offers some essential performance advice to help you step up your live set game.


Maschine Program

The future of production is here. Native Instruments’ Maschine redefines the intersection of hardware and software, performance and production. With Dubspot’s Maschine program for producers and performers, you’ll go from shaking hands with this cutting-edge music platform to making full tracks and performing your music live.

About This Program

At Dubspot, you’ll learn to produce and perform music with Maschine by becoming familiar with its hardware and software simultaneously. Maschine’s tactile controls map seamlessly to their software counterparts, unlocking an advanced production environment. The first level takes you step-by-step through producing an entire track, covering the essentials of sequencing, synthesis, and mixing along the way. We start making music from the beginning–even if you’re completely new to Maschine, you’ll be making your own beats and grooves within days.

You’ll learn sampling and recording techniques to add original material into your productions, use advanced automation features and cutting-edge effects for sound design, and explore Massive, a powerful synthesizer that’s included with Maschine. You’ll also discover how plug-in instruments and effects can expand your creative workflow, and how additional hardware instruments and controllers can be integrated into your setup. Finally, you will also learn how to integrate Maschine into a DAW as a plug-in effect or MIDI controller, with examples shown in Ableton Live and Logic Pro.

What’s Included

  • Maschine Level 1: Production Essentials
  • Maschine Level 2: Sampling, Recording, and Effects
  • Maschine Level 3: Advanced Techniques and DAW Integration

Additional Information

Visit the Maschine course page for detailed information on this program here.

If you have questions, please call 877.DUBSPOT or send us a message.


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