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For a lot of people, hip hop means a dude rhyming over a beat but true heads know it starts and ends with the DJ.

I’m talking about the culture as a whole, but it’s especially true when you want to talk about Asians really getting involved and commanding real respect within the community. That’s why we’re setting this Asian Hip Hop week off proper, with a list of DJs you need to know–according to two DJs you need to know. Yeah, for this feature, we’re bringing it back to when your homie pulled you over and was like, ‘you got to check out this guy because…’ and introduced you to whoever.

So nah, this ain’t the definitive top Asian DJs of all time list. There are too many to cover. It’s one based on direct influence, personal taste, and bias from two guys who know DJ’ing. Speaking of which…

J-Smoke’s name is solidified in the history books. He’s competed on the biggest DJ stages alongside his crew, The Allies (A-Trak, Craze, Develop, Klever, Infamous, and Spiktacular), and brought back 14 World Championship titles – the most out of all the DJ crews. Outside the battle circuit; the New Yorker has done everything from mixtapes (Prestige Worldwide anyone?), holding down a residency in the Lower East side, to running the short-lived Tablist Magazine as editor-in-chief.

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Most people know DJ Zo as the official tour DJ for Parker (Dumbfoundead). The Virginia-native knows how to bring out the best in the emcee and their live show chemistry is comparable to watching a young Fresh Prince and Jazzy Jeff, except the ratchet Asian version. On the solo tip, Zo can be found killing parties all over Los Angeles and recording face-melting promos for brands like Native Instruments.

So now that you know who they are, here are 12 more Asian DJs they think you should know.

words by j-smoke, dj zo, and rekstizzy.

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  • Grumps

    Breaking djs down by race? Smh. What a sad era we are living in, still can’t get past skin color.

    • GUMSHIP

      It’s not that sad. This is an Asian culture and entertainment site. If we want to spotlight members of our community that are making an impact, we should be able to do so without criticism.