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Compton library turns the tables with youth DJ course




Teacher and DJ Lynée Denise mixes on her DJ controller while teaching a class at the Compton library.
Teacher and DJ Lynée Denise mixes on her DJ controller while teaching a class at the Compton library.
KPCC/Lori Galarreta

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A lot of scratchin' and spinnin' over at the Compton library on Fridays.

The library is offering a free beginner's DJ course for young adults. It's led by L.A. native DJ Lynée Denise. The course meets every Friday and runs through April 21.

After they've completed it, students will get a chance to perform at a community event and get feedback from music industry pros.

The young DJ's work on their mixes at the Compton public library.
The young DJ's work on their mixes at the Compton public library.
KPCC/Lori Galarreta

When Take Two dropped by last week, the budding DJs were already five weeks into the course. At that point they had mastered the basics, and now they were starting to hone their skills and try out some advanced techniques.

DJ Lynée Denise has been spinning and collecting music for about 20 years. But aside from DJing, she's also a lecturer at CSULA, where she teaches black music history.

DJ Daydreams a.k.a. 19-year-old Isabel Cisneros receives guidances from instructor DJ Lynée Denise.
DJ Daydreams a.k.a. 19-year-old Isabel Cisneros receives guidances from instructor DJ Lynée Denise.
KPCC/Lori Galarreta

Compton turns the tables

At five weeks in and with five more weeks to go, Lynée described the course wasn't just about turning tables:

"I feel pretty excited about the level of confidence that the young people have with the equipment and also understanding the historical context of the art form, while connecting its social, entrepreneurial element to DJing culture as a possible, viable form of income." 

Lynée was keen to develop the program at Compton specifically. She wanted to highlight standout past residents like Kendrick Lamar, Ava Duvernay and Serena and Venus Williams.

"...thinking about just the rich history of Compton, outside of the dominant narrative of Compton being this dangerous place, it's actually a place where a number of young people live and thrive and can do so, now that a program like this exists where they can apply different abilities or be curious and also have the equipment to exercise that curiosity. So, I think Compton is a key place to be, in terms of developing, particularly, black and brown youth. "

DJ Sol a.k.a. 20-year-old Adriana Medina works on her mix at the Compton public library.
DJ Sol a.k.a. 20-year-old Adriana Medina works on her mix at the Compton public library.
KPCC/Lori Galarreta

And while Lynée wants her students to retain their DJ and entrepreneur skill set they've learned in class, what's most important to her is how her students learn how to feel about themselves.

"Several things that I hope young people can take away from this program includes really... just a higher level of self-esteem. When you think about the way that younger people are criminalized, particularly in cities like Compton, then just having the opportunity to interface with each other and learn new skills creates a certain sense of intimacy and camaraderie that I think will really allow them to think differently or approach their ideas about what is possible differently."

To hear the full segment, click the blue play button above.