Pin It
DJ Logan Sama, date unknown.Photography by David Townhill

Logan Sama on how to be a grime DJ

The grime original tells us the how to DJ grime with the best

Dazed's grime documentary Open Mic premieres tonight at 12.05am on Channel 4, kickstarting series two of Music Nation. To mark the occasion, we're celebrating all things grime on Dazed Digital – look out for a Visionist mix, a gallery of grime-style from those that were there, plus a dA-Zed. Here, grime's oft-imitated, never bettered DJ Logan Sama tells us his top tips for blowing up radio sets and raves.

Logan Sama has spent his career spinning the most thrilling grime riddims the scene has to offer. Starting at (where else?) Rinse FM, back when it was pirate he hosted the likes of Newham Generals, Ruff Sqwad and Tinchy way back before anyone had dreamt of wearing a Star In The Hood t-shirt. Kiss FM soon snapped him up back in 2005, and it was there that he really name for himself as a grime aficionado, as he selected the biggest and most relevant grime tunes for thousands of listeners each week. Now concentrating on his new platform KeepinItGrimy, Logan gives Dazed his secrets on how to do it. Listen up.

Pick the right equipment for you

I use Pioneer Recordbox USB on CDJs. It's so convenient. I can rock up to a club with my headphones and a USB stick. Before it was two or even three record bags! It's saved my back and shoulders from pain and suffering and I can actually take carry-on luggage on a plane now. Most people use the CDJs now in some way whether it is USBs, SD Cards, Serato or just CDs. 

Know when to break the rules

There is no rule of playing songs in 140bpm. 140bpm was just the tempo many Grime tunes were made in. It was just some arbitrary bpm which came around simply because Fruity Loops was set to 140bpm by default. Before that Garage was anything from 132 to 145. The important thing is to play all your tracks at the saaaaaame BPM otherwise you are gonna clang down the house. And obviously music sounds best around the tempo it was actually made at.

Pick your live MC wisely

Live MCs add excitement, energy and hype to a set! I love performing with MCs who have great stage presence and energy. And also MCs who know how to engage a crowd because otherwise it is just shouting into a mic. Being a good Grime MC in a live rave is a skill that is overlooked. There's loads of good barrers, but not all of them can make a crowd move.

Play the tunes people want to hear

A good Grime DJ plays the tunes people want to hear. Be they MCs or the crowd. If you are doing a set for MCs you need to know what riddims they love to spit on and draw for them and new ones that will get a similar reaction. If you are in a club you need to know what vocals and instrumentals will go off and send the crowd into a frenzy of gun fingers, moshing and sing alongs. Being shit is doing the opposite of that. Or even playing the right tunes but dropping them in off bar and generally fucking up the flow and the vibe of the night. I love keeping people on their toes. Especially the MCs. 

Learn how to count bars 

If you can't count bars you can’t mix. You definitely can’t mix for MCs if you cant count the bars in the arrangement. Most Grime is in a 4/4 8 bar arrangement. So learn how to intuitively know where the 8 bar starts. That’s where you cue your track from. If you are DJing for MCs dont try and do too much in the mix as it puts them off, bless them. Simply switching in a big tune on the drop will probably be just as effective as any guy who scratches or does fancy tricks. BUT if you are DJing by yourself go HAM! Keep the crowd guessing, tease them with chops and tricks. Really express yourself. I love having fun with acapellas myself. It allows me to really get great impact from my mixes as people wait for the next big track to drop.

Listen to other DJS

Listen to a lot of other DJs and sets if you are starting out. This will help you see what tunes are working right now and what the MCs or the crowd are responding to.

Know the difference between being a live and radio DJ

Radio for me, is about educating and informing the listener. I do the MC sets and they are hype and great, but for me, I like letting people know what is going on in grime. So telling listeners about the music and artists I am supporting is vital. Interacting with social media and stuff is cool and it makes people feel involved in the show. Shout outs are great but keep them to a minimum. Don't spend five minutes bigging up everyone on your estate and your entire twitter follower count.

Find your own style

Most important is that you need to find your own style and your own unique tricks and sound. No point just being a jukebox, you need to have a hook as a DJ. People need to come to you for something specific that you do better than everyone else.

Logan’s gives us 5 tracks that you’ll always hear in his sets:

RBX - Rhythm & Gash

Tempa T - Next Hype

Skepta - That's Not Me

Preditah - Circles


D Double E - Street Fighter Riddim