DJ AM was one of the biggest marquee names when it came to the turntables for a reason: talent. He could hold down the duties for Jay-Z at a concert or play records to keep clubgoers dancing all night.
"I saw [artist id="1562979"]DJ AM[/artist] play in a mansion in Miami, and he amazed me with his skills and the music he picked to make the crowd move," DJ Khaled told MTV News following DJ AM's sudden death Friday. "He made sure everyone — I mean everyone — had a good time!"
"AM was really dope," [artist id="1597282"]DJ Green Lantern[/artist] told MTV News. "He was dope on another level. He innovated the live DJ experience a bunch of ways. His transitions from song to song were clever to the point you might be like, 'Damn, why didn't I think of that?' He did that while rocking the crowd."
Lantern said one of AM's strong points was that he didn't get lost in his mix while rocking those crowds. "It only got crazier when he linked with [artist id="1526529"]Travis Barker[/artist] and had that extra element to add to the mix: a world-class drummer! You can watch clips of them online to see the routines they created. DJs definitely started pairing up with musicians for live shows after that. He was an innovator and inspiration to a whole generation of DJs that saw the success you could achieve if you stepped your game up and thought outside the box. With AM, It wasn't a party; it was an experience."
"AM just brought a crazy energy to his parties," [artist id="2682128"]Just Blaze[/artist] agreed. "The way he'd put together the perfect blends of hip-hop, rock, dance and so many other genres is what gave him such a mass appeal. He was one of the few DJs that knew how to cross genres and boundaries without losing the crowd. That's one of the hardest things to do as a DJ. You please one part of the crowd, and then end up losing another. He knew how to keep the energy at 10 for the entire night. And while his team-ups with Travis weren't the first time a DJ teamed up with a musician for live sets, it was their common understanding of knowing how to blend genres that made their combination so great and easy to appeal to the masses. You've got to play for the people but separate yourself from the thousand other DJs out there. And he'd mastered that."
DJ Rich Medina, who is from Philly like AM, said the late DJ was a huge inspiration, not just because of his skill, but because of his business acumen. "His popularity in celebrity circles often overshadowed the fact that he was an absolute animal on the turntables and at the negotiations table," Medina said. "The charmed life of getting paid well to do what you love to do is something that we all strive for as entertainers, regardless of discipline. He nailed that consistently and always with truly individual style and grace. No one who has ever seen him DJ can deny his place among the very best to ever put the needle to the groove. He wasn't a coddled Hollywood tabloid dude. He was a beast of a DJ who really made it because of his skills, rather than nepotism or luck. People need to understand that fact."
Even [artist id="1829009"]DJ Drama[/artist], who's one of the top three biggest names when it comes to spinners in the hip-hop genre, was amped to see AM do his thing when they spun together a few years back. "I was so excited to meet him, him being who he is," Dram said. "I heard so much about him. I was a fan. I remember when I got to the party, he was so hype. He told me he was excited to meet me. He called me 'the man,' and I'm looking at him like, 'Nah, you're the man.' He was down to earth and very humble. I was opening for him, he had top billing. He didn't come in on no Hollywood sh-- or nothing like that. He told me he'll get on when I finish. I appreciated that, coming from somebody that accomplished what he accomplished and was doing what he was doing."
[artist id="1455332"]DJ Stretch Armstrong[/artist] said AM's success won't soon be duplicated. "There won't be anyone that can step into his shoes for the foreseeable future," he told MTV News. "I mean, maybe never, in terms of his skill level, his cleverness, his dexterity, the way his mind works, his depth of music knowledge and his ability to take ... his extremely high level of turntablism, battling ability and put that together into a package that's entertaining for not just DJs that really understand what he's doing, but anyone that's going out. Across the board, he could entertain and transfix anybody."
While an initial autopsy proved inconclusive, police say AM was found in his apartment with drug paraphernalia.
"Some people say he was given a second chance at life with surviving that plane crash [last year]," Medina said of his friend's passing. "Who knows what he was going through after that really, aside from him. I just wonder if his demons decided to disrespect his second chance, or if he was suffering so badly that he needed to escape."
Regardless of the way he died, AM will be remembered primarily for his skill and humility.
"I will always remember AM for his prodigious talents, his positive and respectful demeanor and for his template for success as a fellow DJ," Medina said. "We lost one of the best in the game. I am proud to say that I knew him and that I learned a great deal from him, despite his never giving me a formal lesson. Rest in Peace, Adam. We will miss you."