There was a time, long ago, when DJs rose through the ranks in quite an organic way. Take, for example, Frankie Knuckles – who spent years working for the likes of The Continental Baths, The Gallery, and The Warehouse. He worked his way up and eventually became a highly in-demand remixer, producer, and DJ.
Compare and contrast with Shakeil Luciano. The DJ – who simply calls himself Schak – is from North Shields near Newcastle and previously worked as a lifeguard and HM Revenue and Customs. His debut single – sampling “Bumpin & Jumpin” by Kim English – was released way back in, er, October 2022…
The consensus at Ears To The House? It’s not much different to what the likes of Dutch duo Klubbheads were doing back in the 1990s. It’s not exactly our cup of tea, but we can see why this appeals to some people – it’s what used to be considered as entry-level dance music for the uninitiated back in the day.
Schak has done quite well for himself – although it helps that the likes of fellow local DJ Patrick Topping have been involved since day one. Anyone searching on TikTok will find the platform flooded with short form videos of the man himself – thanks, in no small part, due to a number of flash mob events he contributed to in the north east of England.
But Schak has now done something, leaving the internet unsure how to respond. Hideout in Croatia took place between June 25th and 29th – and Schak himself performed both on Wednesday and Thursday. On one of those sets, he played the 1961 song “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” by The Tokens…
Techno DJ Alan Fitzpatrick was left unimpressed, and made his opinions clear in a now-deleted tweet. Commenting on the situation later on, he defended himself saying “I just voiced my opinion on a free speech platform. I guess due to my profile I’m supposed to just shut my mouth! Leave the lad alone tho, we all got diff tastes good or bad!”.
Defected’s A&R guy Melvo Baptiste decried abusive comments, but pointed out “the scene accelerating producers with one big record to the top of the bill is partly to blame”. Some might say Baptiste’s cautious words are just as well – he works for a record label that previously released a song sampling Ludwig van Beethoven’s “Für Elise”.
Our opinion? Whilst questions about Shakeil Luciano’s seemingly very quick rise to fame are legitimate, the idea that he’s committed a cardinal sin here is an odd one. Let’s face it – most festivals these days have very commercial lineups, so expecting them all to play deep underground techno is simply not realistic.
The main difference, quite simply, is social media. If a DJ played a suspect record back in the day, it might have cleared the dancefloor – it might even have been briefly mentioned in a dance music magazine weeks later. In this case, Schak’s choice of record raised some eyebrows – but the footage doesn’t show the crowd leaving in their droves.
DJs like Schak might well attract their fair share of ire, but let’s not seriously pretend he’s a new phenomenon…