"Whether you like Crosstown or not, Damian is one of those people that just fuckin' knows what he's doing," said Maceo Plex earlier this year on the subject of Damian Lazarus' A&R skills. The same could also be applied to his DJing.
06. Art Department
We described Jonny White and Kenny Glasgow's rise as "meteoric" back in October, and for the proof look no further than their touring schedule. The Canadian duo played a single gig in July 2010; the number of shows for the corresponding month this year? 18. What happened in between was a single of the year, "Without You," and a standout album, The Drawing Board, for Crosstown Rebels. The key difference between Art Department and so many other "breakthrough" acts, however, is that individually they've been doing this since the '90s—a fact that is only too evident from their artful DJ sets
05. Maceo Plex
It's safe to say Eric Estornel had a pretty killer year. After nearly two decades of DJing and making records––mostly as Maetrik, more recently as Maceo Plex––he released Life Index, a breakthrough album that thrust him into the limelight. A month later he played at Get Lost in Miami and arguably outshone all of his fellow Crosstown Rebels. The rest, as they say, is history. Today he makes it into the top 100 for the first time all the way up in the top five, easily the highest ranking debut since the RA DJ reader poll began.
02. Seth Troxler
In 2009, Seth Troxler told Little White Earbuds that he'd "retired" at age 16 when he quit his job at The Palace in Detroit (they wouldn't let him work with dreadlocks). Now 26, he hasn't held a "normal" job since, but that doesn't mean he hasn't put in the hours. 2011 was a dizzying year for Troxler—starting a label (Visionquest), founding a charity (Red Dot Relief) and playing at countless parties around the globe. His class clown persona might make it seem like he doesn't take any of it seriously, but nothing could be further from the truth. Seth Troxler is one of most driven DJs out there, and it pays off.
01. Jamie Jones
"The chillest bro in dance music."
That's the way one RA staff member described Jamie Jones earlier this year. And while that may be true behind the decks, the rise of the Hot Creations boss is more down to hard work. By our count, Jones was billed at 142 gigs in 2011, which means he nearly averaged a set every second day. Couple this with a lauded fabric CD, a whole host of remixes and the expert co-curation of a label that came to define the sound of clubland in 2011, and you're left with a simple equation. The hottest tracks + the most gigs = the #1 DJ of 2011.