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DJ-Kicks started out in 1993 as a compilation of electronic DJ -style mixes in the techno or house genres, with the then-novel twist of being targeted to a home listening audience. Soon afterwards, both the choice of compilers and the genres included were expanded: In addition to DJs, more and more producers (like Terranova), remixers (like Kruder & Dorfmeister), bands (like the Stereo MCs) and musicians (like Nicolette) compiled DJ-Kicks albums. The actual music began to vary wildly as well, ranging from Trüby Trio's downbeat jazz sound to Kemistry & Storm's aggressive drum and bass. Still, all contributions remain broadly within the electronic music genre.
The first DJ-Kicks release was C.J. Bolland's in 1995, and the series is still regularly expanded. As of November 2016[update], there are 56 releases in the series, with a release rate of roughly two to three new entries each year. 2016 was particularly busy with five new mixes, more than any other year so far. Some of the DJ-Kicks mixes are very popular and counted among the regular albums of the compiler, most notably the one by Kruder & Dorfmeister. The entries by Erlend Øye, Four Tet, James Holden, John Talabot, DJ Koze and Moodymann have also received particular acclaim. The DJ-Kicks series has been called "the most important DJ-mix series ever" by Mixmag. The 26th release was a special celebratory (and unmixed) "best of" compilation, DJ-Kicks: The Exclusives. It consisted of original tracks by the DJs who had mixed the earlier albums in the series.