Can I get a rewind? No, you most certainly cannot!

"Can I get a rewind?"

I hate rewinds.

For the uninitiated, a rewind is when a tune is audibly spun back to the beginning, just as the best part kicks in and usually upon the request of an MC. The MC will ask the crowd if they want one (to which the reply is usually in the affirmative), he’ll instruct the DJ to do so, there’ll be a high-pitched squeak as the record is spun back, and the tune will begin again to rapturous applause and cheering.

I just don’t get it really, either as a DJ or as a clubber.

As a clubber, it’s the fact that you’re dancing to a tune you love, you can hear the buildup and just as the tune fully drops (the point at which you’re really getting into dancing), some clown says (and I paraphrase), “OK, this is most certainly a tune you like. Would you like to hear it again from the beginning?”

Why? I’m right in the middle of dancing! Why would I want you to stop the tune right at the best part and play it again from the beginning? I’ve just spent the last minute and a half anticipating this amazing drop. It’s finally arrived, I’m really enjoying it and you propose that I listen through the intro again, only to be a little disappointed at the drop not sounding quite as good the second time around because I’ve already heard it? No, thank you very much. I would not like a rewind and have walked off many a dancefloor as a result of them taking place.

As a DJ, I’ve nothing against a record being spun back so that the crowd can hear it. In fact using a short spinback as a transition from one tune to another, especially when the two tunes sound a little different, is a nice technique used sparingly, but why would you want to interrupt your nicely flowing mix and play the same record again?

It reminds me a bit of the TV programme, Teletubbies (“Again! Again!”) and while I can appreciate that an infant would like to see the same thing that made him / her giggle over and over again, adults should not be subjected to this (although they still tend to be in shows like ‘People Driving Really Badly on Motorways, Pissed Up Folk Getting Uppity and Youths Getting Busted For Possessing Small Amounts of Cannabis’ on Channel 5).

And it’s not that DJs tend to get much choice in the matter either. I’ve seen hundreds of DJs and never once has one initiated his or her own rewind. It would just sound silly, surely? It would sound like they made a mistake. Nor have I ever seen a crowd demand one en masse.

No, it’s the MC I hold entirely responsible for this nonsense.

In the film, Scratch by Doug Pray, something I heartily recommend if you’re interested in the history of hip hop and scratching, several old school hip hop DJs remark upon the function of the MC. One of them (DJ Premier, if I remember rightly), mentions that the old school hip hop MC’s job was to adapt to the flow and style of the DJ, nicely augmenting the music playing with improvised rap and acapella routines, and occasionally asking someone to move their car. The film was made around 10 years ago, and DJs were commenting then on how the role of the MC had changed from back in the day. It seems that this is still the case.

I’m not going to get into what makes a bad / good MC here, but there seems to be a small number of very good ones (who keep the attitude of old school alive by actually responding to the music) and an awful lot of bad ones. It seems that anyone with a bit of confidence, the ability to rant complete gibberish and far too much cocaine for their own good in their system can have a go and assume that because they have a microphone in their hands they are running things.

And it’s this attitude of taking control which encourages the rewind. Are they really giving the crowd something they want to hear or just doing it because they want to do it?

I recall a tale a fellow DJ once told me. He was watching Nicky Blackmarket who had a very arrogant MC playing with him. The MC (I can’t remember who it was) called for a rewind and instructed the DJ to do it. Nicky Blackmarket shook his head, clearly feeling that this was not the right time. The MC told him again and again Nicky Blackmarket refused. Outraged by this brush-off, the MC came over to the decks, pushed the DJ out of the way and spun the record back himself. Now that’s just going too far!

To be fair, I haven’t heard one in a while. Although I don’t go clubbing nearly as much as I used to and I will tend to avoid places where I suspect such activities occur.

I don’t know. Do you still get them or have they died out? Am I just showing my age? Do you like them? If so, why? I genuinely want to know what the appeal is.

Answers on a postcard please.

Article by DJ Maurice Norris for Digital DJ Tools.