Witnessing one of DJ Kanna's sets is truly an unforgettable audio-visual experience. Credited to be one of the first DJs to bring video turntablism to India, the music video to every song he spins flashes across nightclubs' larger-than-life projector screens. If it's Dr Dre, Snoop Dogg, Ashanti, Nelly or Beyonce, the accompanying music videos add a dash of excitement to his sets, stimulating the senses of the party animals in attendance.
Kanna, who has officially been named India's best hip-hop DJ (2009-2010) by The National Jury Panel, India, and the nation's best hip-hop DJ of 2010 and 2011 by VH1 and MyFavDJ.in, claims to have started the trend of video turntablism in India three years ago. He says, "Now, the trend has picked up really well - many DJs across the country have incorporated this technique into their sets."
So, why video DJing? "I got into video DJing as I feel it's more entertaining and a better way to educate people about hip-hop culture and how it was done back in the day, through a display of music videos. And, the coolest part is that when I scratch, even my videos scratch so it creates a kind of eye candy for partygoers," says Kanna, who played at Blue Blazer in Sector 26, Chandigarh, on Saturday night to a very receptive crowd.
Also known as KAN-i, the spin-doctor works his magic on the decks scratching up a storm of hip-hop, R&B, dance and electro house sounds. His style is what you'd call a musical mash-up - blending these various genres together, and spinning snippets of each song - an amalgamation of sound. "I just love music too much to have a favourite - I like to play it all! Some of the artistes I most respect include Nas, 2Pac, Notorious B.I.G. and Jay-Z," shares KAN-i, whose electric energy behind the console successfully revved up the tricity night clubbers.
From New York and Los Angeles to Dubai and Bangkok, Kanna has performed across the globe and has also opened for international artistes such as Grammy award-winning Chamillionare, Wyclef Jean, Kardinal Offishal, Apache Indian, Jay Sean and Raghav. He has also collaborated with some of the world's top DJs including DJ Jam (official DJ of Snoop Dogg & Dr Dre), DJ Whoo Kid (Official DJ of 50 Cent), DJ MArk da Spot (official DJ of Justin Timberlake), Punjabi MC and so on.
An 'old school' DJ at heart, the self-taught disc jockey, uses the Technics SL-1210 turntables, which he refers to with a wide smile, as the 'Rolls Royce' or 'Bentley' of turntables. His career received a kick-start when he became the runner-up in War of the DJs, south India (2004-05). In 2007, he won the War of the DJs, south India, and was runner up in the finals.
The Hyderabad-based DJ who plays regularly in his hometown as well as at venues across the country, is next heading to the states to compete at the World Video DJ Battle in Las Vegas on September 23 in which he's been shortlisted in the top 10 video DJs in the world. While in the US, he will also spin in Atlantic City. You can next catch him live in Chandigarh at Blue Blazer in November.