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Morning Express with Robin Meade

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Go to school and learn to DJ? Yes, from Scratch!

  • The late Run-D.M.C.’s Jam Master Jay cofounded school with Rob Principe
  • You can learn to DJ at any age at the Scratch DJ Academy

So you want to be a DJ? Did you know you can go to school for that?

Founded by the late Run D.M.C.’s Jam Master Jay and music enthusiast Rob Principe, the Scratch DJ Academy is teaching students of all ages how to mix it up behind the turntables.

“Our job at the Scratch DJ Academy is to help make people better DJs…[and] to release their inner DJ,” Principe said.

The academy prides itself on being "genre agnostic" and inclusive. “We define the DJ as anyone who controls the music,” Rob said. “You can be in your car changing the radio station… downloading music to your iPod — you’re the DJ.”

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Principe said the idea behind his academy came after a "religious music experience".

“I was incredibly moved by a DJ at an event…he knew what I wanted to hear before I knew I wanted to hear it,” Rob said. From that moment,  the academy owner said he was inspired to make education and access into the DJ industry more accessible.

“The cost of equipment was expensive," he said. “And the demand to learn outweighed any supply of teachers. So I created the scratch DJ Academy to address those needs I saw in the marketplace.”

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His first step began with getting the support of legendary hip-hop DJ, Jam Master Jay from Run-D.M.C.

“I realized I needed a partner,” Rob said. “Run-D.M.C. and Jam Master Jay were above reproach," he said. "I approached Jay… he saw the vision and was fully committed.”

Since opening its doors in 2002, the Scratch DJ Academy has trained more than 500,000 people how to DJ. Today, the academy has grown into four U.S. locations: New York, Miami, Los Angeles, and Chicago. In addition, there are eight satellite locations on cruise ships and in Caribbean resorts.

The academy also features celebrity DJ instructors and a copyrighted curriculum that begins with the history of DJing.

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For TJ Mizell, son of the late Jam Master Jay and a DJ instructor, education is key. “I want them [my students] to have fun but also know this is a discipline,” he said. “And, they definitely have to practice — just like anything else, practice makes perfect.” 

Although creating the world’s first DJ academy wasn’t easy, Rob credits his "entrepreneurial boldness" as a part of the academy's success. “It allows you to take risks and make mistakes,” Rob said. “You get knocked down but stand up.”

When asked what he loves most about his job, Principe said it's helping to make others dreams come true. ”Learning to DJ and becoming a DJ is a dream to so many. We bring that dream to reality here every day.”  

For more information about the Scratch DJ Academy, visit:

Morning Express with Robin Meade airs Monday through Friday at 6 a.m. ET on HLN. Like the show on Facebook, follow on Twitter: @MorningExp.

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