DJ Kool Akiem

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HomeArtistsDJ Kool Akiem

DJ Kool believes that within Hip-Hop culture is an often misunderstood form of creativity, ingenuity, and originality which can be applied to any path in life. As a teaching artist DJ Kool attempts to communicate these practical lessons he has learned throughout his career in an inspirational, thought provoking and ‘cool’ exploration of history and technology.

Creating ornate and electric samples over rugged drum hits and 808 kicks, Kool Akiem’s productions have a signature feeling which provides musical excitement that doesn’t distract from the lyrics. Constantly reinventing his production and style, he has become a master of his genre.

More About the Artist

DJ Kool Akiem is a renowned DJ of 20 years, as well as a music producer and pioneer of the Twin Cities Hip-Hop community. As DJ and producer for the legendary Micranots, as well as DJ for MF DOOM, Kool Akiem has toured nationally and internationally, sharing stages with artists like Atmosphere, Public Enemy, KRS One, De La Soul, The Roots, Hieroglyphics, Grandmaster Flash, Jazzy Jeff, Mos Def, and many more.

On top of producing critically-acclaimed albums released on record labels like Rhymesayers Entertainment, Sub Verse, and his own Mental Madness Wreckords imprint, Kool Akiem has held DJ residencies in NYC and Atlanta (including a 3-year radio show on WRFG), and served as a beta tester for Serato Software which, along with his own inventive modifications of audio equipment, contributed to pushing the boundaries of DJ technology itself. Kool Akiem has also been featured in several books, including Five Percenter Rap by Felicia Miyakawa and Making Beat by Joeseph Schlosh. Currently, Akiem teaches The History of Hip-Hop at McNally Smith College of Music, serves on the COMPAS teaching artist roster, and mentors youth and emerging artists.

Learn more about DJ Kool Akiem in his January 2020 Artist Spotlight interview

Program Offerings


The Art & Science of DJing

“The Art and Science of DJing” will give students an introduction to and ‘hands-on’ knowledge of DJ equipment, styles, skills, and vocational possibilities. This program is ideal for classrooms, youth events and walk-up or drop-in interactions.

Topics covered will be: 

  • basic physics of sound and how vinyl records work with turntables;
  • signal flow, and equipment function;
  • file preparation and song library management;
  • hands-on basic techniques, cueing, beat-matching, mixing, EQing, scratching, beat juggling, sample triggering;
  • understanding the professional possibilities one has as a DJ

History of Hip-Hop DJing

Everyone has heard of “Rap” or “Hip-Hop” but not everyone understands the origins and roots of one of the most prolific and pervasive popular youth cultures today. This program is ideal for classrooms.

We will examine the emergence of:

  • The Four Elements;
  • important creators and innovators;
  • the connection from early DJ mixing to current sampling music production; politics and ethics of sampling, playing other peoples music;
  • the flowering worldwide movement in the context of changing technology and new social media.

“Akiem was AMAZING! He was down to earth and fun. Akiem allowed the kids to be hands-on which makes a huge difference in workshops/presentations like his. The topics changed while still remaining on the subject of hip hop. I personally enjoyed that he explained the concept of records and how they worked. He had different things to pass around the crowd which invited more questions, comments, and enjoyment.”

Ms. Soldner, Madelia Public Library

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COMPAS is an arts education nonprofit that puts creativity in the hands of Minnesotans, regardless of their age, background, or skills. Based in the Minneapolis-Saint Paul metro area, COMPAS teaching artists deliver creative experiences and arts programming across Minnesota.

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This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a Minnesota State Arts Board Operating Support grant, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.