She Spins: 7 Black Women DJs You Should Know and Groove To

by Bee Quammie

Growing up, one of my dad’s favourite pastimes was DJing. I’m talking turntables, mixers, crates of 45s, and club-sized speakers in our basement. I always thought this was normal, until friends visiting for playdates told me in no uncertain terms that it definitely was not.

My dad’s love of music planted the same seed within me, and while I was always intrigued by the art of DJing, the sentiment I received at home was that DJing wasn’t for girls. I never thought much about it until recently, when I started realizing how many dope Black women were out there on the 1s and 2s.

While I sit and ponder what life could have been had I insisted that my dad teach me how to spin, scratch, and mix, get to know 7 Black women who are paving a way, creating history, and making a name for themselves behind the wheels of steel.

DJ Jazzy Joyce

Bronx-born and bred, DJ Jazzy Joyce recognized her love of music—and DJing—during her preteen years. Studying her craft paid off in 1983 when Joyce won her first New Music Seminar DJing award, and her career exploded. In 1986, Joyce partnered up with Sweet T to record the hit single, “It’s My Beat,” and she began testing the waters as a producer as well as a DJ. In an era where female DJs were fairly nonexistent, Joyce returned to the New Music Seminar in 1987 to battle a male DJ, and cemented her place in the industry. Joyce found a home at NYC’s Hot 97 radio station and held it down for over 10 years. She can still be found on tour today, making crowds rock with her skills and passion for music.

Check out DJ Jazzy Joice’s "12:13:14 The Mix Tape" on Soundcloud:

DJ Lissa Monét

Photo: Kadeem Ellis

Hailing from Toronto, DJ Lissa Monét currently wears two hats as an award-winning DJ and as the Online Lifestyle Marketing Specialist at Sony Music Canada. For over 10 years, Monét has been the lifeblood of the party from Toronto to NYC, to the Bahamas to Uganda, and beyond—using her people skills to read the crowd and provide the best experience possible. Spinning for artists like Drake, Will.I.Am, and U2, Monét ensures that she stays at the top of her game because she’s a dope DJ—not just a dope female DJ.

Check out DJ Lissa Monét’s #CCRUNCREW April Run Playlist on Soundcloud:

DJ Eque

DJ Eque’s disc-jockeying days began during her time at Texas Southern University while attending on a basketball scholarship. After urging one of her friends to teach her the basics, Eque’s passion for DJing grew. She purchased her own equipment and started spinning for local radio and parties with the late DJ Screw, a Houston hip-hop legend. Eque has hosted top-rated radio shows, has been featured on TV shows like David Letterman and BET’s Comic View, and has toured with artists like Missy Elliott and Erykah Badu. Though she often hears, “You’re too pretty to be a DJ,” Eque lets her musical skill speak for itself.

Check out DJ Eque’s “Let’s Do It Again” Playlist on Mixcrate.

DJ Leydis

Hailing from Cuba, DJ Leydis has used her talents to help build Cuba’s hip hop movement. In 2005, Leydis co-founded Omegas Kilay, a Havana-based hip-hop theatre collective aimed at providing space for the artistry of the Cuban hip-hop community. Leydis migrated to the San Francisco Bay area in 2006 to expand her DJ skills and broaden her work. She has since worked with American and Cuban artists like Erykah Badu, ?uestlove, Los Rakas, and Las Krudas, making her way as one of the most respected hip-hop advocates and artists out of Cuba.

Watch DJ Leydis get down with DJ Lo Down Loretta Brown (AKA Erykah Badu):

DJ Diamond Kuts

When her father—Philly hip-hop pioneer Grand Tone—gave her a DJ starter kit for Christmas, DJ Diamond Kuts figured out exactly how she’d carve her space in the entertainment industry. As the first and only female mixer on Philadelphia radio, Kuts has carved that space and then some. In addition to her prime radio spot, Kuts has toured with the likes of Lil Mama and Nicki Minaj, and has been featured on BET and MTV as an icon of the industry.

Watch DJ Diamond Kuts mixing live at Power 99FM:

DJ Cocoa Chanelle

Photo: Twitter
DJ Cocoa Chanelle has her late brother, Andre, to thank for her start in DJing. Wanting to emulate his every move, Chanelle mirrored his passions for MCing and DJing until they became her own. Chanelle got her first major break when she won the DJing gig on BET’s Teen Summit. From there, she skyrocketed to fame with 15 years on Hot 97 FM, international touring, and recognition from media as being one of the best DJs in the game. Chanelle is a triple threat who not only DJs, but is a producer and lyricist in her own right, showing her strong dedication to hip-hop culture.

Watch DJ Cocoa Chanelle spinning live on 98.7 KISS:

DJ Beverly Bond

This Black Girls ROCK! champion found her way from Maryland to NYC as an aspiring model, managed by agencies like Elite and Wilhelmina. Unable to deny the love of music she inherited from her mother, DJ Beverly Bond took her record collection and started building her skills as a DJ. Spinning at local parties for fun, Bond quickly saw her star rise within a year to a position as one of NYC’s top DJs. She’s rocked events like the CFDA Awards and D’Angelo’s Voodoo album release party, and has spun for clients like Playboy and Kimora Lee Simmons. In 2006, Bond founded Black Girls ROCK!, a youth empowerment and mentorship organization with an annual awards show, and has now added “Community Leader” to her amazing list of titles.

Watch DJ Beverly Bond talk about how she became a DJ:

Photo: BET

Bee Quammie is a Toronto-based healthcare professional, writer, and founder of ‘83 To Infinity and The Brown Suga Mama. Recognized by Black Enterprise & the Black Canadians Awards for her digital work, Bee aims to live '83 To Infinity's motto: "It's never too late to learn something new, do something new, or be someone new." Follow her on Twitter at @BeeSince83.