At one point in time, the DJ was the most revered element of hip hop. They break records, bring collaborations together, produce, curate — you name it. Record spinners are not only the life of the party, they are the party.
BET hasn’t forgotten the importance of these hip hop essentials, honoring a sole individual each year who had the most influential year in the BET Hip Hop Awards “Best Dj of The Year” category. D-Nice, who’s nominated this year as well, took it home in 2020 and DJ Mustard the year before.
With the biggest night in hip hop around the corner, here’s a look at this year’s nominees and a snapshot of what they’ve been up to the past year.
Born Chase Benjamin, Houston native Chase B first gained notoriety as Travis Scott’s default tour DJ before dropping his first collective project MAYDAY in 2019, featuring Cactus Jack associates Sheck Wes and Young Thug.
After successfully working on the Cactus Jack label compilation album, JACKBOYS last year ande celebrating his first single on the Billboard Hot 100 as a producer on “Franchise” with Travis Scott, MIA & Young Thug, he’s gearing up to release his own album featuring the biggest names in the rap.
“For Me” is CHASE B’s latest release.
D-Nice’s win at the 2020 BET Hip Hop Awards felt like an overwhelming no-brainer after his successful Club Quarantine series on Instagram during the lockdown, attracting millions with his masterful curation of R&B, soul and hip-hop classics.
Since then, he’s taken the movement outdoors with Club Quarantine Live, selling out the Hollywood Bowl in L.A and Prospect Park Bandshell in New York. In fact, D-Nice’s outdoor dance party is Live Nation Urban’s first tour since the beginning of the pandemic.
Known as Hollywood's go-to DJ — having spun at Beyonce and Jay-Z's wedding in 2008 as well as President Barack Obama’s 50th birthday — DJ Cassidy’s time to shine as a frontman was inevitable.
Cassidy has a series called Pass the Mic, where he brings stars, from Earth, Wind and Fire to Doug E. Fresh, back to reprise a verse or two of their classic hits in a dance-music collage.
The 40-year old New York native has gotten the all-star montage to be part of the Biden/Harris inaugural programs and has even deal with BET to produce six “Mic” specials during 2021 — all of them set to follow our annual awards shows or other major programming.
DJ Drama may have first come to national attention as the official DJ for rapper T.I., but since, the Philadelphia native has shown there are no heights a DJ can reach, with his critically acclaimed Gangsta Grillz series single-handedly reshaping the scope of mixtape history.
Recently Drama hosted Tyler, the Creator‘s newest studio effort Call Me If You Get Lost, one of the year’s best efforts.
As one-third of the prolific Breakfast Club on Power 105.1, DJ Envy’s contributions to the culture speaks for itself.
This past year is especially significant because it both marks the trio’s tenth year in the game and their induction into the Radio Hall of Fame.
“We Made It!!!! 2020 Radio Hall of Fame Inductees!!!” DJ Envy wrote alongside his Instagram post. “Thank You to all of you for riding with us..”
Jeffrey Townes, better known to hip hop and television fans as DJ Jazzy Jeff, among being a part of the iconic Fresh Prince series with Will Smith, is one of the best to ever place their hands on a pair of Technics 1200s.
As the two-time Grammy Award winner began to enter the second and third phase of his career, however, he evolved into an established producer, sitting behind the boards for artists like Jill Scott, Musiq Soulchild, The Roots, Floetry, and many more.
Nowadays you can catch Jeff on either one of his two annual European tours, or in Canada, Asia, Australia, New Zealand, which he often frequents.
DJ Scheme has established himself as one of music's most in-demand DJs over the past several years, having worked with everyone from Wifisfuneral and Ski Mask to the late XXXTentacion and Juice WRLD.
Born Gabe Guerra, the 24-year-old Florida native decided to take his career to the next level by dropping his debut studio album, FAMILY, in December of 2020
The 17-track project features Cordae, Lil Yachty, Ty Dolla $ign, Ski Mask The Slump God, Joey Bada$$, Srillex and Take A Daytrip, providing both a complex and cohesive sound for the Palm Beach native’s
Grammy-winning Haitian-Canadian producer DJ Kaytranada may be soft-spoken, but talking is not required when you produce sounds such as he does.
Born Louis Kevin Celestin, the 29-year old has two critically acclaimed studio albums: 2016’s 99.9% and BUBBA in 2019 —which topped Billboard’s Dance/Electronic Albums chart.
Last year he re-released Bubba as an instrumental album and has been on a feature run for the ages, working with Pharrell, Estelle, Tinashe, Mick Jenkins, GoldLink, Kali Uchis, Masego, and more.
His most recent work is with South African artist Muzi on a record titled, “I Know It”.
Photo: Evans Alexandre/BET