Todd Craig explores DJ culture, rhetoric, and its impact on contemporary writing.

Buffalo State's Black History Month Celebration Explores DJ Culture


Todd Craig has been a DJ longer than he has been an educator, so it’s no surprise that when he delivers Buffalo State’s Black History Month presentation this week, he’ll be playing some music.

Craig will explore DJ culture, rhetoric, and its impact on contemporary writing during his talk “‘Shout Outs & Storytelling’: DJ Rhetoric and the Inspiration for ‘K for the Way,’” on Friday, February 16, at 4:30 p.m. in the LoRusso Alumni and Visitor Center. Part of Buffalo State University’s celebration honoring the achievements, contributions, and history of Black Americans, the event is free and open to the public; refreshments will be provided.

“This isn’t just a discussion,” Craig said. “In academia, we often see people talk about culture from afar, instead of having conversations with the cultural participants who make the culture,” Craig said. “I like to spend time talking about who gets to tell these stories and why.”

An associate professor of English at the CUNY Graduate Center and an associate professor of African American studies at New York City College of Technology, Craig recently authored “K for the Way”: DJ Rhetoric and Literacy for 21st-Century Writing Studies. An extension of his dissertation, the book includes interviews with over 90 DJs and explores how they are making choices about playing particular music.

“When I was working on my doctorate, it made sense to talk about the DJ as a new media writer and literary critic.... I realized I could engage students, thinking about writing and analysis, through hip-hop.

“DJs are storytellers,” Craig said. “They write the soundtrack to your night, or get you through difficult moments of your life.”

Craig said he’s excited to make his first trip to Buffalo. His presentation will incorporate lyrics from Westside Gunn’s Flygod album, on the Buffalo-based Griselda Records label.

His talk is sponsored by Buffalo State’s Equity and Campus Diversity Office in conjunction with the Africana studies program.

Buffalo State will also host a special screening and discussion of the documentary film 848: The Criminalization of America on Thursday, February 15, at 5:00 p.m. in the Campbell Student Union Social Hall as part of Black History Month. The film looks at how drug laws like the “King Pin” statute disproportionately affect communities of color. Director Thomas Freeman will join a panel discussion following the film. This free event is co-sponsored by the Erie County Bar Association and the Minority Bar Association of Western New York.