Two weeks ago, I went to a bar where the much-hyped DJ was actually a guy who just plugged an aux cord into his iPhone, then proceeded to fist-pump his way through a Spotify playlist of select choices like a radio remix of Justin Bieber’s “Sorry” and Migos’ “Bad and Boujee.”
There’s no doubt about it: We are living in an interesting, complex time for music, one where, technically, anyone can call themselves a DJ. In 2017, mention “DJing” and you’re more likely to be met with a reference to DJ Khaled’s Snapchat, an “Oh, that guy from Netflix?” if you mention Grandmaster Flash, and a straight-up “Huh?” if you bring up Afrika Bambaataa.
DJing has always been more a part of the underground music scene than the mainstream one. Now more than ever, though, it feels even more difficult to find an actual DJ — not one titled with the misnomer — who creates music that is both innovative and true to the original form. But, if you know where to look, in the clubs of Bushwick and the Bandcamps and Soundclouds of the internet, the real DJs are still there.
Kid Ginseng is one of them. A veteran DJ and head of New York-based electro-funk label Kraftjerkz, Kid Ginseng is the samurai of the New York scene: laser focused, beyond dedicated to his creative path. He’s calm, cool, and collected behind the decks, mixing and scratching with such precision and uniqueness that you can listen to his tracks over and over again, from varying angles, and still find something new: the creativity of picking samples, the science of identifying the repetitive hook, the art of putting it all together, like painting, but with sound.
What’s most interesting about Kid Ginseng is the scope his work covers. He covers the fundamentals with funky scratching and sampling of old school hip-hop and dance records. He takes influence from Kraftwerk’s Computer World and builds layers of electronic sound out of the “Numbers” beat. He plays with turntablism, scratching records at rapid speeds with a difficult-to-master blend of technical prowess and genuine feel. He’s unafraid to experiment with the playfulness of internet culture, combining spoken word samples from guests of peak-Dad sayings or iconic movie quotes with tight, rapidfire scratching and beats. With each endeavor, he remains both authentic and unexpected at the same time.
For those looking for something fresh and fun, funky and freaky, Kid Ginseng is your best bet:
For updates, follow Kid Ginseng and Kraftjerkz on Facebook, and if you’re in the New York area, be sure to check out his upcoming appearance at Bushwick’s Bossa Nova Civic Club and come get down to the get down (you can do that legally now!).