Hip Hop DJ Berlin
Hi there, my name is DJ Jab. I've been playing powerful, Soul and Jazz influenced, Boom Bap Hip Hop and what your daddy calls Grown Man Rap since 2000.
In the 90's, I got inspired to become a DJ by the Hip Hop radio shows of DJ Stretch Armstrong and Bobbito The Barber on New York University's college radio station WNYU-FM (United States of America), by the The Dutch Masters radio show Villa65 on Radio 3 hosted by Mental Case, 2Tall & DJ Knowhow (Netherlands), the Def Beats show with DJ Inspector G and the Rapper's Paradise show with DJ Groove, both on Jam FM (Germany).
The radio aspect of "putting on a show" still heavily influences my mixing and productions until today.
Getting my music
When it comes to mixtapes, I solely release music on Mixcloud and YouTube. Both pay the artists, I can play whatever I want and you can listen for free. A win-win-win situation.
When it comes to singles & EP's, I release all music on Bandcamp. You can listen for free and download for a small tip.
When it comes to beats I release all music on BeatStars and Bandcamp. I get paid if the beats are used elsewhere while you can listen for free. Fair, right?
Birth of DJ Jab
In August of 2000, I started playing under the name DJ Jab, mixing Boom Bap Hip Hop at private parties, and irregularly at small bars and nightclubs in northern Germany.
Jabz 100 Toplist
In February of 2001, I started a social network for DJ's on the World Wide Web: Jabz 100, a toplist network connecting several hundreds of DJs and producers, who were releasing underground DJ Remixes of popular songs. The website had several thousand visitors a day. I used it for promotion and to support the Roc-A-Fella Records Street Team in Germany.
First regular gig
In April of 2001, I got my first regular monthly gig in a small bar, Rote Laterne, in St. Pauli in Hamburg, Germany. In the beginning I got the 2nd Thursday of the month, from January 2002 the 1st Saturday of the month.
From 2002 onwards, I started producing mixtapes (actual cassette tapes) in small editions of about 5 to 10 pieces a month. The printed cardboard cassette sleeves were my first cover designs. They consisted of collages of images cut out of magazines and pasted or written texts over them.
The tapes were given out at my nightclub gigs and of course to family and friends. Some of the mixtapes, e.g. Party up in here!, made it to FM radio and were played on the then national radio station Jam FM on the Def Beats show.
It was early 2002 when I met DJ Vlader at a gig at Große Freiheit 36, Hamburg, Germany. We became friends and he dragged me through Northern Germany's night clubs as a support DJ for some years. Thanks to Bro!
Charismatic Rap mixtape
In May 2003, I released my first digitally (CD) mixtape, Charismatic Rap, which got airplay on Beatbasement.
The same year I put out the Streets sampler, a collection of recorded freestyle sessions and music by fellow producers, rappers, and DJs. Despite a very small edition of only 50 pieces, the release caused a lot of trouble. Buyers often assumed they would get a production from UK rapper The Streets. D'uh!
Blaque Joints web radio show
Beginning in the summer of 2003, I hosted the Blaque Joints weekly web radio show (120 Minutes of Funk) on BlackBeatClub, playing Hip Hop, R&B and Party Breaks on Friday and later Saturday nights to warm up the crowd.
Luckily the show was prerecorded, so I could also do gigs on both days in parallel. It was a great experience and opportunity that would not have been possible without Dejan Bosic a.k.a. Realmaster D.
First release on vinyl
In early 2004, together with Samofant, I released the Weekend EP on 12" vinyl.
After we delivered to some record stores, the record found its way onto FM radio. It got airplay on the Soundfiles Hip Hop radio show with DJ Mad on NDR in Germany and on DJ Beware's Tribe Vibes radio show on Austrias ORF FM4 station.
Gigs, gigs, gigs
The radio appearances of Weekend triggered record sales and DJ gigs in a plathea of nightclubs like HANGAR 49 (Berlin), Geburtstagsklub (Berlin), A-Lounge (Berlin), Monopol (Lüneburg), Docks (Hamburg), Cafe Seeterrassen (Hamburg), Maxx Music Hall (Hamburg), Rote Flora (Hamburg), Markthalle (Hamburg), and Mausefalle (Kiel). Too many venues to name.
DJing was pretty intense at the time and resulted in me having to cancel my first regular Saturday night gig at Rote Laterne and slowly cutting the Blaque Joints web radio show down by an hour and then ceasing it altogether.
In 2005 I decided to take a creative pause. I felt uninspired. Playing only mainstream Hip Hop and R'n'B at night clubs had made me lose my mojo. I also felt uninspired by the idea of releasing just another record. I have "been there and done that", several times. I was ready to move on but didn't know in which direction.
During the following years, I cleaned up my extensive music collection, making it reflect my personal taste. This process lasted for years, since good new music kept appearing, which I collected.
It must have been around mid 2012, when I heavily got into digging and collecting from other genres than Hip Hop / Rap. I got inspired to do so during a trip to Africa, when I visited the Santa Maria music festival, on Sal, Cabo Verde.
The local music was so good, I started to look more into Jazz, Soul, and Folk music from all parts of the world. Diggin' deep into genres and styles.
I occasionally compile some nuggets and publish them in a show, called Digger's Paradise.
Back in the game
From 2013, after studying, founding 2 companies and years of abstance from DJing (apart from digging), I slowly got back in the game. I had the opportunity to play alongside some of the artists which I really like a lot, playing the music that I wanted. Playing mainly what I was sampled with by labels/dealers or what bookers wanted me to, was a thing of the past.
DJing became again a hobby on the side instead of being a source of income. This gave me back my mojo.
DJ Jab sound logo
In the summer of 2016, just before a concert, I asked my friend Tobi, who works as a professional speaker, to spit out a few variations of "DJ Jab" for me. We recorded with my cell phone outside the concert hall. One of the variations became my sound logo. Since then, Tobi has been my official voice. We still record outdoors.
DJ Jab logo
After playing around with the sound logo, improving it and adding a personal touch to Tobi's voice, I decided to create a visual logo as well. While investigating typography, I came across Jakob Fischer's Skater Dudes font. According to him, it was inspired by graffiti and has a loose and goofy appearance. Great match with my music! I used the font to create the DJ Jab logo with only minor changes. Props to Jakob!
Equipped with a sound logo and a visual logo, I felt it was time to investigating how I could produce and release mixtapes again. After some experimenting with my decks, cutting sound snippets, and testing mastering software, the time had come:
In May 2017, 14 years after my last mixtape, I released Slowful, as digital stream on Mixcloud and in a limited edition on (CD).
A testimony of the times.
In March 2019 I released the Fireabend mixtape. It was my first digital only release, on Mixcloud.
I had found ways to rearrange songs, remix, do collages of sound snippets, production and mastering, cover design, and releasing. I was satisfied with the product and the whole production process.
DJ Jab 20th birthday
In 2020, the year that marked my 20th anniversary as DJ Jab, I permanently moved back to Berlin. There, I reconnected with Herr van Toll, a friend I met back in 2009 in southern France. He is an amazing photographer and supports me with most things photography of DJ Jab. Props to Herr van Toll!
It never felt better to be DJ Jab. It never felt better to be home.
During quarantine, I had developed perfect focus and released the MacGuffin mixtape. To show some love for my Berlin district, the cover depicts Lange Brücke in Köpenick.
Website photo shoot
In May 2021 I met Herr van Toll
to shoot pictures for the website on the roof of a vacant and now demolished tower (for anti-aircraft control systems of the GEMA
), which I always called the roof of Köpenick
So, we grabbed some beers at the local Späti and got up there. The results can be found on this website, among other places.
In December 2021 I released the Boom mixtape on Mixcloud. Since I've always been a fan of graffiti, I wanted to try using actual street art for the cover. So I took a Boom tag that I once photographed in Hamburg.
I definitely wanted to release the tape in 2021, so I mixed and mastered on December 31st until 10:30pm. I just made it. 2021 was a crazy year.
DJ Jab stickers
I’ve never created a sticker before, so for 2022 I had decided to create a variety of DJ Jab stickers. I’ve ordered 10.000 stickers in total. After sending the files to the sticker manufacturers, I had to wait for a few weeks without knowing what the results would look like.
The stickers were and are still being distributed to record, fashion and graffiti stores in and around Berlin.
Keep up the stickering everyone! Also, keep sending in pictures and locations! The farest a sticker made it so far is Marocco. Whoop, whoop!
Action Jackson mixtape
In July 2022 I released the Action Jackson mixtape on Mixcloud.
The cover with the gun caused heated discussions among family and friends even before the mixtape was published. The question that arose was whether the (fictional character) DJ Jab should carry a gun. I've thought about it a lot and - on DJ Jab's 21st anniversary - decided:
For the sake of artistic freedom, DJ Jab can do whatever the fuck he wants.
In April of 2023 I released the Smile mixtape on Mixcloud.
With all the negative shit that's happening around the world, I wanted to send a more positive message. As a huge fan of Gandhi's philosophy on non violence, I posed as him on the cover. Herr van Toll took the photo and Köpenick legend Romano helped with the intro. Berlin graffiti artist Smile (the one and only) contributed his tag as the logo.
All of us are sending out good vibes to the world! Smile!
Peace to Joseph Abajian, founder of Fat Beats, who also goes by the name DJ Jab and probably uses it longer than me. Love and respect to Sheraz Puri for being a source of inspiration. Big-ups to Tobi, Herr van Toll, and Empanadeta for your support, the friendships and all the good times.
I also want to shout out all the artists who supported me (in alphabetical order): A-F-R-O, Afrika Bambaataa, Andy Cooper (Ugly Duckling), Apollo Brown, Billy Danze (M.O.P.), Cilvaringz (Wu-Tang), Common, Curse, Dee-1, Denyo (Absolute Beginner), Devin the Dude, Dizzy Dustin (Ugly Duckling), DJ Chino420, DJ Desue, DJ Dummy (12 Inch Assins), DJ Lord Jazz (Lords of the Underground), DJ Mad (Absolute Beginner), DJ Vlader (Wild 13), DJ Young Einstein (Ugly Duckling), DoItAll (Lords of the Underground), Ed O.G., El Da Sensei (Artifacts), Erick Sermon, Estee Nack, Fredro Starr (Onyx), General Steele (Smif-N-Wessun), Homeboy Sandman, Juju (The Beatnuts), Killah Priest (Wu-Tang), Kool Savas, Large Professor, Lenny S (Roc Nation), Lil' Fame (M.O.P.), Marco Polo, Masta Ace (eMC), Masta Killa (Wu-Tang), Memphis Bleek, Mr. Funke (Lords of the Underground), Murs, Orishas, Paranom (Tragic Allies), Psycho Les (The Beatnuts), Purpose (Tragic Allies), RA The Rugged Man, Rapper Big Pooh, Reks, Rockness Monsta (Heltah Skeltah), Romano, RZA (Wu-Tang), Saga 718, Skyzoo, Spliff Starr, Sticky Fingaz (Onyx), Stricklin (eMC), Stu Bangas, Tame One (Artifacts), Tek (Smif-N-Wessun), ... and anyone I may have forgotten.