Japan’s Real-Life DJ Hero

DJs today get a bad rap. People seem to think that being a DJ nowadays means simply pressing play and letting the music ride.

That’s not always the case though. A lot of DJs around the world still work hard at their craft, and it’s a lot more complicated and nuanced than just pressing play.

There’s maybe no better example of this than Japan’s DJ Kentaro. In a world where it seems most DJs prefer a laptop Kentaro is one of those DJs that still use two turntables (but no microphone) to entertain.

Kentaro is just one of many talented Japanese DJs, but he’s probably the most recognized. He’s won numerous Japanese DJ competitions, put out some of his own albums, and even won the DJ World Championships. (To quote DJ A-Trak, yes, there is such a thing.)

What first caught my eye about Kentaro was one performance at the DJ World Championships where he didn’t actually play a record — he played the label on the record.

With his hands racing over the two decks and the fader, Kentaro’s technical skills and creativity shines through with this incredible performance. Don’t believe me? Alright, check this out:

It’s incredible to me to see how quickly his hands move over the turntables, and how he’s able to keep the beats in sync. It seems like music is becoming more and more digital, but nothing’s more analog than playing a record purely by feel.

Whether or not the majority of today’s DJ actually just press play doesn’t matter as much to me knowing that skilled, creative musicians like DJ Kentaro are out there. I’m content with just watching him at work and asking “how the hell did he do that?”


Header photo from Inaudible Answer

  • http://mkaito.github.com Michishige Kaito

    Good to see there’s still proper DJs out there.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Darwin-Chun/100002042179300 Darwin Chun

    definitely one possessing of the mad skillz! i’ve seen many a talented dj in my time on earth (digital and analog alike), but as far as old-school record scratching, kentaro is probably the best i’ve seen so far. thanks a lot for the great article! :)

  • https://www.facebook.com/philipphilipphiliphilipphilip Philip Warren

    What about Nakata Yasutaka???

  • Emi

    (*°∀°) I think I’m in love…

  • Mill

    that was BOMB

  • soon

    I think his stuff are too over-rated. Sure, some are good. But most are pretty boring and lately his stuff are getting repetitive IMO.

  • Piggaletto

    I saw Kentaro perform at a festival a couple of years ago – it was amazing, he is so skillful :D

  • http://www.facebook.com/deejaytaufiq Mohamad Taufiq Morshidi

    As a DJ who has went digital,

    i really want to go back to vinyl but again all the vinyl stores have closed down making it harder for me to collect records. Kentaro and Q-Bert got me into DJing, and i want to go back to basics like them too (Q-Bert went digital too but wants to go back to classic vinyl).

    I love Traktor but i miss scratching, juggling and moving between disco and early hip-hop records. Hopefully online vinyl stores like Discogs and HTFR would improve their delivery services for those not living in the West.

  • http://www.tofugu.com/ Hashi

    Wait, even Q-Bert’s gone digital?! I saw a video of Shadow performing with CDJs not too long ago and I thought that that was bad enough . . .

  • http://www.tofugu.com/ Hashi

    He’s not really known for being a vinyl DJ, and certainly hasn’t been a World Champion . . .

  • Mescale

    I prefer the phrase turntablist.

    As for the rest; just judge them on the merit of their sounds.

    Oh this wiki article delivers by the way.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turntablism

  • http://www.tofugu.com/ Hashi

    Turntablist is a pretty sweet term, but idk if that many people use it or know what it is. I’ve personally only heard it used in a documentary about turntablists.

  • https://www.facebook.com/philipphilipphiliphilipphilip Philip Warren

    I suppose… But I like Kyary Pamyu Pamyu and Perfume!

  • belgand

    Closed down? There are at least two that I know of off the top of my head in my neighborhood (one of them is huge too) and plenty more around town and I don’t even buy vinyl.

  • http://www.tofugu.com/ Hashi

    It depends where you live. There are also a lot of vinyl retailers in my town, but other places aren’t so lucky. Even if you do have a place that sells you vinyl, a lot of vinyl production facilities have closed down over the years, so vinyl can’t be produced as quickly nor in as great a quantity.

  • http://www.facebook.com/deejaytaufiq Mohamad Taufiq Morshidi

    I live in Malaysia, and all the vinyl stores have closed down except for one.

  • http://www.facebook.com/deejaytaufiq Mohamad Taufiq Morshidi
  • kuyaChristian

    I know this is an old article but I haven’t read Tofugu in a while so I’m catching up.
    Before I even opened and started reading this article, I had a feeling it’s an article about DJ Kentaro. He’s a dope guy. But in his more recent gigs and events, he’s been using DVS systems. In other words, digital versions of ‘vinyl’ recrods plugged into a laptop. You’ve probably heard of Serato. Yup, it’s that. He can still mix and scratch similar [if not same, people can argue] as vinyl but he’s been using that lately.

    Great article :]

  • kuyaChristian

    Not to mention his gigs are usually at music festivals/raves and so he can mix. Been listening to Kentaro’s recent mixes and he loves electro house and drum ‘n bass in his mix.