Let There Be EDM: Campus DJs

By May Mansour | 10/9/14 3:00am

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without sound and music, and silence was upon the face of the night. And then God said, “Let there be EDM” and so God created the DJ.

“It’s so great to see people so passionate about electric and progressive music,” said Rame Hanna, a Hollywood hip-hop dancer turned DJ who is currently the community director of the McLaughlin cluster.

Hanna is also advising a new Modern Music Society on campus, which aims to create an open space for DJs, producers and musicians to collaborate anddiscuss contemporary music.

“The biggest thing is to be passionate about music,” Hanna said.

Citing Showtek and Diplo as his biggest influences, Hanna has become a regular performer around campus, most recently DJing at Orientation events for the ’18s. Dedicated to expanding his musical repertoire, Hanna spends an average of two hours a day researching music and practicing on his controller and mixers.

"I’m very excited about learning and growing, whether it’s watching YouTube videos or going to other people’s performances,” he said.

When asked if he had any advice for the fast-growing number of underclassmen DJs, Hanna recommended taking advantage of the campus environment — to play for friends and seize opportunities to “try out music with other people” interested in DJing.

In the wake of Ill Fayze’s smash hit “McLaughlin Anthem” and his highly publicized rap beef with Breezy B, the music spotlight has been shining brightly on the musicians of Dartmouth's freshman class.

Among them is Darnell Marescot ’18, an up-and-coming DJ (and let’s face it, the saving grace of East Wheezy), who had his start in the basement of Russell Sage. Marescot says he’s bringing something new to the table — an openness and variety that is currently unprecedented in the Dartmouth music scene.

"I try to appeal to what the body wants,” Marescot said. "It can be pop music, hardcore gangster-style rap music or anything in between.”

Early on, Marescot was heavily influenced by his mother’s love for opera and gospel music and it wasn’t until high school that he discovered hip-hop and rap. He lists Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole and Kanye West as his top three musical icons because he admires their envelope-pushing styles and narrative song lyrics.

"I love to listen to music that tells a story,” he said.

In true Dartmouth style, Marescot says that music is more than just synthesizing beats on a MacBook — it is a conduit of intellectual thought and expression.

"Rap is poetry,” Marescot said. "Most people wouldn’t consider a rapper to be as smart as a mathematician or a physicist, but rappers are some of the smartest people out there. I think they display their intellectual capacities through their music."

Also among the rising DJs of the Class of 2018 is Justin “Protégé” Sanders, who has quickly become the face of the Russell Sage cluster. Sanders, whose father was a professional R&B singer and whose brother was a pianist-conductor at age 13, cultivated a love for music very early on, adding that it has “always” been part of his life.

Boasting a wide array of musical tastes, Sanders says Eminem, Lincoln Park and his father are among his greatest influences. He plays everything from old-school R&B to Japanese pop, and attributes his eclectic musical intereststo having grown up in Washington, D.C. and then having lived in Kentucky. Protégé picked up his classical taste from his father, his hip-hop taste from the DMV area and his country taste from Kentucky.

"I honestly love all types of music,” Sanders said.

DJing in the Russell Sage basement has helped Sanders meet new people and cultivate a community space for the Class of 2018. He hopes to host a weekly event in Russell Sage, aptly titled “Pre-game with Protégé” every Friday nightfrom 9 p.m. to 11 p.m.

"I didn’t come here expecting to be a DJ. I just play music for me,” said Protégé. "I just have to keep learning and growing on the fly."

The article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction appended: October 14, 2014

The original version of this article incorrectly stated that Rame Hanna is a DJ for Barhop.

May Mansour