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October 26, 2016

Reviving The Art Of Turntablism With DJ Kan-i

Text by Simone Louis

Authentic and creative, he is responsible for resuscitating the old-school art form within the local music scene

“Even after 16 years of DJ’ing, I still consider myself a student…I learn new things every day.” Despite having just about returned from an extremely long US tour, this party starter has already jumped into the thick of things back home, travelling all over the country to play at packed gigs. DJ Kan-i, one of the first to introduce ‘video turntablism’ to India, breathes life into every performance with unique mixes and characteristic scratches. The knowledgeable musician has opened for Grammy Awards winners Chamillionaire and Wyclef Jean, apart from Kardinal Offishall, Apache Indian and Jay Sean, alongside collaborations with Punjabi MC and DJ Ta-Shi (Japan’s top hip-hop disk jockey) among others. “A lot of people, specifically in India, have the wrong idea that the turntable era is over,” he tells me. “There’s history behind it, it’s always been in the game.”

The Hyderabad boy — who grew up listening to Mohammed Rafi, Manna Dey, Lata Mangeshkar and Mukesh before falling in love with hip-hop — was also the mastermind behind the Lean On mash-up video that features actor Govinda and went wildly viral all over social media. Those lucky enough to attend his shows are regularly treated to a variety of new and equally hilarious videos. A lover of the ’80s and the ’90s, Kan-i isn’t fazed by much except for “DJs who fake it”. “When I see someone playing non-stop sets using the sync feature and pretending as if they’re really mixing, I can’t stand it,” he explains, offering advice for creative hopefuls: “Keep it real. Hard work always pays you back.”

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