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A Retrospective Look At Usain Bolt's Overlooked DJ Career

The world's fastest man to ever run on a track, has also long loved to mix tracks.

by David Garber
Aug 15 2016, 9:10pm

Photo via Pinterest.

Last night in Rio, Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt made history when he became the first person to win the 100-meter title three Olympics in a row. Since then, the world has been experiencing peak Boltmania, with the athlete's mid-stride smile already the subject of countless memes. While various publications are taking the opportunity to delve deep into Bolt's various athletic accolades, some have overlooked another important part of his legendary lineage—the guy absolutely loves to DJ, and has so for many years.

THUMP, being a publication devoted to the many realms of dance music and DJ culture, is taking Bolt's recent milestone to embark on a retrospective look into Bolt's life not on the track, but in the booth, banging tracks. Stay with us, as we race through some of his DJing highlights throughout the years.

The Early Years: 2010-2011

Early video evidence of Bolt's mixing dates back to 2010 in Paris, two years before the Summer Olympic Games in London, where he would win the 100 meter gold medal yet again (following the 2008 games in Beijing) with a new time of 9.63 seconds. The Jamaican set up shop at a Puma branded, Jamaica-themed event dubbed "Paris City Hall," on a warm summer night in July at the city's Hotel de Ville. Staying true to the musical lineage of his homeland, Bolt embarked on reggae-focused set, going through consciously-minded classics like Bob Marley's "Iron Lion Zion" (a soon to be revealed mainstay in Bolt sets) and Lovers Rock legend Beres Hammond's "Putting Up Resistance."

Quickly emerging as a hero for youngsters around the world, Bolt followed his Paris set by taking part in a promotional video called Usain Bolt's DJ Challenge for the 2010 Singapore Youth Olympic Games, where he can be seen tinkering with a pair of CDJs amidst a funky backdrop. "I love DJing. I Love Music. What's Your Dream Playlist?" Bolt asks the viewer.

Click the image above to access the video.

The Gold Period: 2011-2012

By 2011, Bolt had already established himself as one of the best sprinters of all time and was in the midst of running in some secondary championships before the start of the 2012 Summer Games in London. In June of 2012, he overcame a slow start in Oslo's Bislett Games to come from behind and win the 100M race ahead of compatriot Asafa Powell. While much of the buzz around his victory pertained to his critique of the new starting blocks used in the race, many overlooked his stunning afterparty set in the city following his win. In the video clip below, Bolt turns again to a heavy-hitter in his DJ arsenal: "Iron Lion Zion"—this time in the form of a bass-heavy dub that had the crowd swaying in perfect unison. Bolt even takes to the mic for some live MCing as he runs the track back for a second play.


Also in 2012, Amherst, Massachusetts mashup DJ and producer, Steve Porter, a man whose tracks have often included collaborations with famous athletes, made Bolt the subject of an official video for a house track called "Faster Than Lightning." The video includes various clips of Bolt's iconic runs as well as inspirational messages to and from his many fans.

Bolt Meets EDM: 2012-2013

Like any DJ, Bolt has indeed dabbled in some sounds that some may consider less than prime. Following another Diamond League world record in late May in Rome, Bolt took to the historic Piazza Di Spagna for an impromptu street party in which among what we suspect to be more than a few huge tunes, he deployed Tommy Trash's big-room anthem "Cascade" to a sprawling crowd of onlookers, who all look slightly confused.

A Star Returns Home: 2013-2014

By the year 2013, word had gotten out of Bolt's skills in the booth, with dance music publications like FACT covering his guest set at the London Summer Olympics closing ceremony (there is no video evidence of the performance, hence why it's not on this list) alongside Fatboy Slim. Following the summer games, where he once again took gold and smashed records, Bolt traveled back home to Jamaica for a guest-set at Kingston's Club Privilege. At around 7:45 in the clip, Bolt swiftly runs into the booth at 4:09 AM to hop on the mic and hype the crowd, before, of course, taking to some Serato turntables to not only mix, but scratch. What more can be said? Watch below.

???: 2016—

Now in 2016, Bolt has solidified his position as not only the fastest man in the world, but the fastest man to ever live. In tandem with his countless accolades on the track, the last six or so years has also introduced the world to not just Usain Bolt the untouchable running god, but also a regular guy who's passionate about music and likes to DJ around his races. While Bolt is undoubtably a competitive force to be reckoned with on the track, it's safe to say he takes his DJ career with a grain of salt—it's more for the fun, the music, and the kicks. Bolt doesn't promote his DJing like many athletes or actors-turned-DJs, or even announce his sets, but instead lets them flow naturally.

Following what he's said to be his final Olympic appearance this week, now is the time to ask ourselves: What is next for Usain Bolt the DJ? Has the time finally come for him to really hunker down and do this thing for real? And, most importantly, after all is said and done, will he conclude his epic Rio run with a massive blowout DJ set somewhere in the city?