From the Yorktown Countdown New Year’s Eve Party to your best friend’s wedding, you can find Chris McCoy, better known as DJ Rehab, spinning the hottest parties in Charleston. With an open mind and an ingrained sense of commitment, Rehab has fine-tuned his DJ talents and established a name for himself in the Holy City.
Growing up in small-town Seneca, S.C., Rehab’s exposure to DJing was relatively limited. He didn’t know any DJs. “Nobody around me DJed,” McCoy says. “As a matter of fact, there wasn’t even a store to buy a record at for miles and miles. I would have to drive like an hour if I wanted to buy a record.”
The budding DJ turned to influences such as Jazzy Jeff and Greenville local legend DJ Scientist to make up for the lack of turntable culture in his hometown. Rehab’s scratching techniques and blending methods are reminiscent of his idols. “I really loved it, just the way that they blended seamlessly from start to finish,” McCoy says. “I strive to be like them.”
DJ Rehab employs three major scratches in all of his mixtapes and live shows: the chirp, transform, and flare scratches. Of the three, the chirp scratch is his favorite. “Basically, you move the record at a very fast tempo to raise the pitch, and then you chop it with the fader,” McCoy says. “It makes a little high-pitched bird-chirping sound.”
In addition to scratches, the artist practices a method of turntablism known as beat juggling. “A beat goes one-two-three-four — that’s your basic beat, your pattern. It’s taking those four beats and rearranging them live, into another beat,” McCoy explains.
Rehab’s mixtapes are all self-produced and have been nationally recognized on platforms such as Mixcrate’s Top 5 as well as Beezo’s Top 5. With over 7,000 followers, he is the most followed South Carolina DJ on SoundCloud. His 2011 mixtape entitled Can’t Get Any Harder put him on the map. “Before I knew it, it gave me 1,000 followers within just a few days of releasing it,” McCoy says. “It’s weird you know, ’cause a lot of people say once you spend all this time making a mix, you’re sick of it by the time you’re finished. This one I’m not sick of.”
Some of Rehab’s mixtapes have received international recognition. Songs in the Key of Me, a BeeGees-like, blended collection of his favorite songs, reached fans across the Atlantic. “It’s not my most popular mix,” McCoy says. “I still get a lot of compliments, but they’re all from the U.K. It gets played on the radio over there a good bit.”
In contrast to the chill vibe of Songs in the Key of Me, Rehab’s mixtape United States of White Girl incorporates a combination of frequently requested club songs. “Pretty much all of us DJs get sick of these songs that the average girl asks for in the club,” McCoy says. “So, as a joke, I decided to put every one of these songs together on a mix.” As anticipated, the mix proved to be a popular one.
Understandably, it takes a lot of commitment to maintain a career as a DJ while still finding time to produce mixtapes. “Because I come from very humble beginnings, my work ethic is a little bit higher than the average person. It’s finally starting to pay off a little bit,” he says. His name “Rehab” provides insight into other facets of the DJ’s life. “My DJ name was given to me 10 years ago, and I just ran with it. It comes from my day job in cardiac rehab. I could probably quit it and DJ full time, but I choose not to. It’s just something I really love to do.”
Cardiac rehab by day, DJ by night, Rehab’s talents do not stop there. “I have a DJ group in town that I founded. We call it 40 Acres,” says Rehab. For those of you wondering: yes, the name is in reference to the phrase “40 acres and a mule.” The group comprises DJs Rehab, Apollo, C-Nile, and Nate C. The Chief, and operating as a collective offers more collaborative opportunities. “DJ groups are old school,” says Rehab. “We all have different styles, but we learn from each other.”