I remember the first time that I read a dance music magazine. It was all the way back in October 2001. I was at college at the time studying for my A Levels and I had some time to kill before I had to catch the bus home.
So I wandered into town and saw a newsagents. I’d never been in here before and I saw they had a huge selection of magazines and newspapers – many of which I’d never seen before.
Whilst browsing, I saw a copy of Ministry magazine. Believe it or not, but before the internet came along, you had to get dance music news through the press. There were few ways to get it directly. If you weren’t in the scene, you had to go through the gatekeepers in the media.
I enjoyed reading the magazine and I bought many more. But as an overly inquisitive 16 year old studying Sociology – oddly enough, one of the better decisions I made at that age – I noticed one thing. The coverage was very positive. Insanely positive.
There was little criticism of anyone in there. Certainly not in the way you’d expect to see in newspapers, for example. And this trend over the years has just got worse and worse. It’s gone from being positive to downright idolatry.
And I can’t help but think this is an incredibly dangerous development. It creates the conditions where DJs can put whatever the hell they like on their riders and if you dare criticise them even mildly, they come at you like someone who’s just been caught kicking a puppy.
Whilst there are plenty DJs at the top of this scene who are humble and haven’t forgotten their background, let’s be perfectly blunt here. There are many others who are a bunch of overpaid prima donnas with a truly staggering sense of self-entitlement.
And I believe one of the reasons for that is the sheer amount of idolatry they’re exposed to. They’re treated like kings, and some of them inevitably fall for the hype and think it’s the truth.
They’re not used to dissent. They’re not used to dealing with criticism. In social media, they have a friend. Their fans will unfailingly speak up for them, defending them. Most of the time, it means they don’t even have to answer it in any way. They can express their view by simply liking a tweet or even saying nothing.
They make threats. They threaten to stop you from progressing further in your career. They find out what you want and they threaten to stop you from getting it. This is why they’re absolutely terrified of outsiders – there’s nothing they have in the artillery to stop them.
Derrick May is the perfect example of this. For years, he was venerated and worshipped as some kind of god. This allowed him to behave in whatever way he liked – hence why he’s now accused of sexual mispropriety against at least 18 women and has made a career out of pretending he can play.
No one ever challenged him on it, and he’s still benefitting from idolatry now. His stooges, like Carl Craig and Patricia Altisent, are defending him whilst he somehow pretends that anyone who doesn’t like him must be a racist.
This is an utterly contemptuous and disingenuous line of defence which the dance music press should have torn him to shreds on. Instead, they reported it – even they couldn’t ignore this – but made no further comment. Were they seriously that terrified of his Mickey Mouse lawyer?!
It’s high time that this culture of deference and idolatry in dance music stopped. Otherwise, the egos are just going to destroy what’s left of the scene – and since the egos will be rich, they won’t suffer…