by Vance Brinkley
As we dance our way through the seasons with parties, festivals, and events, there’s one thing we should remember to do: thank the DJs. It’s a duty that’s often unheralded; no one knows what goes on behind closed doors, the grueling hours dedicated to the grind, or what’s needed during or after the show to get paid. And let’s not forget to mention producers who get less credit than ever in a streaming era that rarely amplifies their names with their work. Fortunately, the 2018 Global Spin Awards gives respect to the artists behind the wheels of steel.
This year’s award show honors the world’s biggest and best DJs who hold down radio and clubs alike, while also rewarding producers who are masters behind the boards.
The biggest honorees of the year are Timbaland and Jermaine Dupri, two producers who have both spent decades shaping the direction of black music. However, there’s plenty of talent to go around, and plenty of awards to be given out. The nominees include Metro Boomin, Calvin Harris, Snoop Dogg (DJ Snoopadelic), DJ Drama, and Diplo and, with over 30 nods announced, it’s a lot to take in with so little time (considering the show is set to air February 22). Luckily for you, here’s a rundown of some nominations that you may want to look out for.
Lifetime Achievement Award
With nearly 30 years in the music industry, Timbaland as the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award is a no-brainer. Boasting a diverse array of sounds and Billboard-topping tracks with icons like JAY-Z, Beyonce, Missy Elliott, and Justin Timberlake, this four-time Grammy winner represents a generation of sound that has since inspired others. Artists like Sango and Bryson Tiller have been influenced in some way by Timbaland, whether through sampling or meeting the man face-to-face, and Timbo continues to serve as a source of inspiration. Now, you may be wondering why he’s receiving a lifetime award for a DJ Competition? Let’s not forget that alongside all of his music talents, Timbaland can DJ. And he’s pretty good too; he manned the tables during JAY-Z's Magna Carta Holy Grail Tour.
Breaking Barriers Award
Jermaine Dupri has come a long way from dancing in an old Houdini video. Who would’ve known that this kid would be one of the most successful producers not just to come out of the ATL, but overall, period. With over 30 years of experience in music, he’s worked with Janet Jackson, Mariah Carey, Migos, Usher and managed to introduce us artists like Lil Bow Wow and Da Brat. Long before the city was pumping out talent like a manufacturing company, Dupri was one of the earliest artists to contribute to Atlanta becoming a cultural mecca. The Breaking Barriers award honors his work in both DJing and the music industry.
DJ Of The Year
The winner of this award may do so by small margin because the fellow nominees have been changing the game in many ways. While Metro Boomin has risen into higher ranks with the hottest beats in the industry, DJ Khaled has made yet another album that went certified platinum. Calvin Harris’ ‘Funk Wav Bounce Vol. 1’ was the album of the summer, while DJ Envy continues to rule the radio waves as one-third of the Breakfast Club. The Chainsmokers continue to merc stages with their sets and, well, Diplo is still impressively Diplo. There’s a lot of competition in this category, and whoever comes out on top may not just be the best DJ of the year, but the most influential cultural figure in music too.
DJ Producer of the Year
As the DJ of a residency, your production ear is always put to the test. But the nominees for this category have taken things to another level by actually opening themselves to the world of production while also keeping their craft on the turntables together. It’s very obvious that after a successful 2017, nominees like DJ Khaled, Calvin Harris, and Metro Boomin deserve a spot for this award, but DJ Snake, Statik Selektah, and DJ Nasty have also earned their spot for mastering their sounds for years and helping out a long list of artists including Lady Gaga, Rick Ross, Joey Bada$$ and even Action Bronson.
Female DJ of the Year
Though there may be a ton of male-dominated categories at the Global Spin Awards, they didn’t forget to have a spot for the women who have made it their duty to rock a crowd with their own sound and perspective. When one of the nominees once deejayed for the likes of Prince, you know the competition for the best women on the 1s and 2s would be fierce. This year includes lady DJs who have been in the game for a while (like DJ Kiss) but also boasts modern names that rock crowds whether in the New York streets, at an event for Amber Rose, or for a massive following on the internet (like DJ Duffy and Vashtie). It could be very easy to talk about how competitive this category is, but truly listening to each of the nominees’ sound shows a different side of music that some male DJs can’t provide for the audience.
Turntablist of the Year
There aren’t a lot of disc jockeys that can master the art of scratching. For many, it’s a task that could either add depth to a mix or become a dealbreaker for listeners if not done correctly. And that’s why Turntablist of the Year should be a category that is as important as the flashier ones because the nominees have mastered one thing that many have trouble doing even years into their career: the fundamentals. Compared to the nominations in other categories, these six nominees are as diverse as their style of spin, representing countries from Canada to Japan and back to the USA. DJ Ease is just coming off of winning last year’s Red Bull 3style in the US Finals; DJ Perry was the first woman to win the DMC National DJ Battle in 2017; Jimmi Riggz destroyed DJs in the battle scene nationally; and these are only three contestants. It’s one thing to say how good these DJs are with the fundamentals, but to see them actually work proves why they’ve earned the nomination for such a tough Spin Award.
Celebrity DJ of the Year Award
These nominated disc jockeys bring a brand name to their sets around the world but don’t think that they don’t have the talent to back it up. This year’s nominee list features big names including Snoop Dogg (DJ Snoopadelic), Jermaine Dupri, Questlove, and Swizz Beatz. If that doesn’t show you how competitive the category is, throw Lil Jon and Brody Jenner into the mix. Being famous may be a leading factor in this award, but it should also be considered that these “famous” DJs are actually nominated for being very good. Nobody likes a famous face that can’t do anything behind the CDJs.
EDM DJ of the Year
Whether you like it or not, EDM is here to stay, and the nominees for EDM DJ of the Year are going to give the committee a tough time choosing one winner out of the six. You have DJs like Steve Aoki, Diplo, and A-Trak who have been maneuvering through this sound for years, even opening record labels that in some ways placed that same energy within the life of their record labels or parties. Calvin Harris’ ‘Funk Wav Bounce Vol. 1’ album is an achievement in and of itself that should also be included thanks to his experience mixing and producing EDM, and Marshmello is becoming a household name in the modern world of the genre earning production credits for epic remixes of tracks like “Alarm” by Anne-Marie or his debut track “Alone.”
The Global Spin Awards air Thursday, February 22 at 9 p.m. ET on REVOLT TV. Looking for the channel? Use our locator here!