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Hip-Hop and vinyl heads from around the globe are joined in mourning the loss of Bay Area veteran figure Stephanie “DJ Stef” Ornelas. As the founder of the Vinyl Exchange in the 1990s, Ornelas was a prominent fixture on the Bay Area’s music scene.

CBS News reports:

Stephanie Ornelas, a respected San Francisco DJ, designer and champion of Bay Area music culture died suddenly Sunday from a heart attack, according to reports on social media.

The 55-year-old Ornelas, equally known by her “nom de turntable” DJ Steph, was a fixture of the San Francisco music scene dating back to the late 1980s. According to a biography posted on, Ornelas began DJing in clubs at that time under the tutelage of DJ EFX (older brother to well-known radio and club DJ Mind Motion).

DJ Stef’s Vinyl Exchange helped bring attention to the Bay Area’s bustling music scene, and she served as the writer for the newsletter. The venture morphed into a now-defunct website, but Ornelas moved into graphic design while still consistently gigging as a DJ. She recently opened for DJ Prince Paul during his tour stop in San Francisco.

El-P, Lyrics Born, Oliver Wang and many other Hip-Hop notables all sent messages of kind thoughts in honor of DJ Stef. We’ve collected a few we found on Twitter below and on the following page.

Thank you for everything, DJ Stef. Rest powerfully and peacefully.


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