Among those in Bay Area battle DJ and turntablist circles there has been a real buzz lately as this weekend sees the return of the prestigious DMC to the Bay Area after six years. The DMC has not held a regional battle in the Bay Area since 2006 which is a little shocking to many followers of the turntable arts since the Bay Area has long been considered one of the main centers of turntablism and battle DJing, giving the world such hip-hop turntablist legends as QBert, D-Styles,Mixmaster Mike, DJ Quest, Apollo, and Shortkut to name but a few.
But now thanks to the efforts of such folks as Charles Angeles (aka Inbituin of Spintronix & Thud Rumble) along with the support of the DMC USA's tireless CEO, DJ battle coordinator, and all round hip-hop culture ambassador Christie Z-Pabon tomorrow, Saturday April 7th at 4pm at 330 Ritch in San Francisco, the 2012 Bay Area DMC regional battle will be going down!
And it should be a good one since there are twenty DJ contestants ready to battle it out on the turntables. The event will be hosted by Fran Boogie and the judges will include DJ Quest, DJ Apollo, DJ Cue, Jazzy Jim, DJ Shortkut, and myself. There will also be some excellent DJ showcases, following the DJ battle portion of this all-ages event that ends at 10pm sharp, from 4oneFunk's Mista B (2008 DMC West Coast Champ and regular DMC showcase artist), Snayk Eyez (2000/2001 DMC US Supremacy Champ), La Femme Deadly Venoms (Deeandroid & Cellskiii, plus Lady Fingaz), and the aforementioned hard-working iNBiTuiN (Spintronix / Thud Rumble). Later on there will be after party DJ sets from Goldenchyld of The Bangerz (2011 SF Red Bull Thre3style Champ), Cutso (The Bangerz - formerly Finger Bangerz), and The C.M.E. (Good Musik))
In anticipation of this anticipated DJ battle, for which Christie Z-Pabon (the DJ battle coordinator for DMC USA - as well as cofounder/operator of Tools of War along with partner/husband will be flying in from last night's Seattle Regional DMC battle, I interviewed Christie and also both Charles Angeles (aka iNBiTuiN) and Snayk Eyez to get their views on the importance of the return of the DMC to the Bay Area. These interviews follow below. And since, as judge, I will have a front row seat at tomorrow's Bay Area DMC battle I will report on it here in a future Amoeblog - as well as on the other regional battles leading up and including the DMC NYC + Battle for Supremacy on June 23rd at which I will also be a judge.
Mista B @ last year's DMC US Finals in NYC - The 4oneFunk member and 2008 DMC West
Coast Champ will be doing another special turntable showcase at the SF DMC
Amoeblog: How come that the DMC battles were absent from an area considered by many to be the center of the turntable arts for so long?
Christie Z-Pabon: As you know, I was at DMC USA from 1998-2000 as an employee and then returned in 2008, not as employee but as CEO. I don't know what was going down in my absence and where the battles were held before but since I have returned, promoters had expressed interest in bringing DMC back. It was not until this year, with Spintronix and DJ Inbituin, that the plans looked more solid. We don't pick the cities we go to - even though I always want to go to the Bay. The promoters have to book the battle, just like they would book an artist. But we want competent, professional, reliable promoters as well so we don't always take everyone up on their offers either.
Amoeblog: What does the return of the DMC to the Bay mean to the DMC overall?
Christie Z-Pabon: Overall, it means that DMC USA, is God willing, making a fabulous comeback and is better than ever. We started with only an East Coast and West Coast (Seattle) battle in 08 + the US Finals - and by 2012 we have more sponsors checking for us, more top battle DJs entering, more tour dates on the roster!
Amoeblog: Does it seem to you (as it does to me) that we are in the midst of a renaissance of the DJ battle era right now?
Christie Z Pabon: I would like to see the US battle scene go back to where it was in the late 90s and go even further. I am very excited about this DMC Bay Area battle because more DJs are registered than any other regional!! And a lot registered very early. The excitement and hunger to battle was there after all! I can't wait to announce who's battling!! I hope it will turn into a renaissance, but we might have a few more years to go!
Reigning DMC World Champ DJ Vajra doing routine similar to the set that won the Colorado
DJ the DMC USA Finals title last August in NYC to go to London, UK for the DMC World Finals
DJ the DMC USA Finals title last August in NYC to go to London, UK for the DMC World Finals
Amoeblog: What has your role been in bringing the DMC back to the Bay and how did it come about?
Charles Angeles: After two years of active participation in DMC battles as competitor, it has been bugging me that nobody takes a serious interest in organizing a DMC Bay Area Regional. So last year, even before the 2011 season ended I've been planning and talking to people in bringing back the DMC back here. This year I decided to invest and organize the DMC Bay Area Regional. It wouldn't have been possible without the support of both my crews Spintronix and Thud Rumble as well the DJs in the Bay Area showcasing, judging, competing and even just supporting the event on Saturday.
Amoeblog: Where was the last Bay Area DMC battle held back in 2006 and how come that the DMC battles were absent from the Bay for so long?
Charles Angeles: I think the last DMC SF was at Cellspace in July 2006. DJ C-Plus won. I didn't go to that one. Those were the days when Christie Z wasn't in charge and the fire wasn't there in the battle scene with plenty of DJs retired from battling. It took awhile to build the interest back up. From 2008 I could say there were only a handful of DJs from the region that were still actively trying to compete. Last year, there were only 5 DJs from the region that competed in various regionals so it's great to see that number increase this year and have a battle in our home turf. We just needed a new generation of DJs involved and carry on the torch for the scene.
Amoeblog: What does the return of the DMC mean to the Bay Area DJ scene overall?
Charles Angeles: I view this first year as planting the seed again that's why I tried so hard in acquiring a venue that would do an all ages event. It would be sort of a proper get together for all the DJs that are into this artform. Hopefully the event itself inspires and empowers the region to push forward and revitalize the culture again. We might get to see some new DJs impress us. I'm confident the following years will be much better. Maybe even bring the DMC US FInals back.
Amoeblog: How would you describe the state of the Bay Area turntablist & battle DJ scene right now compared to previous years?
Charles Angeles: It's still thriving. As long as there's DJs who pursue their passion for turntablism, it will never fade away. I think we needed to do was to bridge the gap and reach out a new generation of DJs who we can pass the torch on. With Thud Rumble and QBert Skratch University being based in the region, we have strong organizations that would continue to push this artform. I wish I knew where it's headed but who knows.
Amoeblog: This battle on Saturday will be the first time that a DMC in the Bay Area has included DVS technology like Serato - will it make a big difference do you think?
Charles Angeles: I think the inclusion of DVS like Serato in the competition will ultimately change the game. Last year was the first year it was allowed and I think we're still in a transition period. It makes digging for songs/beats for building/composing routines definitely easier. As long as DJs think outside the box and not follow what the norm was, we'll probably see some new ways DVS can be great for the competition.
Amoeblog: Finally what can people expect from Saturday's event in the battle portion (any promising contestants we should know about) and also beyond just the battle part - what else is planned?
Charles Angeles: Expect a very dope DJ battle. According to Christie Z, we're expecting about 20 or so competitors for this one. That's probably the most of any regionals this year besides NYC or LA. There will DJ showcases by La Femme Deadly Venoms, myself (iNBiTuiN), DMC US Supremacy Champ Snayk Eyez and ITF Champ and DMC West Coast Champ Mista B. A well-rounded and distinguished judging panel that includes Billy Jam, Shortkut, DJ Quest, DJ Cue, 8-Ball, Apollo and Jazzy Jim. The event will be hosted by Fran Boogie. Plenty of DJs in the scene will be on hand. Swift Rock, Vinroc, Bullet Proof Scratch Hamsters, The Bangerz and many more. Maybe even D-Styles, Yogafrog and QBert will stop. Definitely a great environment for aspiring DJs to brush elbows with the movers in the scene. The after party will be hosted by Good Muzik with The CME and Goldenchyld and Cutso of The Bangerz. Lastly, there will be young ones during the event so I plan to make the event flawless and leave a great impression on them so it should be a really fun event.
DJ Quest, among the top turntablists in the history of the genre, doing routine at the 1994
DMC USA West Coast Eliminations - the last year he entered a DMC battle
Amoeblog: It's been six years since the last DMC battle in the Bay Area. What's the impact been like?
Snayk Eyez: A lot has changed since then. At one point, the Bay Area was even considered the "Mecca of DJing" because a lot of the world's most influential DJ's are from here. And a lot of out-of-towners actually relocated here just to experience the Bay Area DJ culture. So having not had a DMC competition here in the last six years means that there's going to be a brand new generation of Bay Area talent that will hopefully bring something fresh and innovative to the masses, even more so now that DMC allows the digital format. At the same time, I've been noticing that a lot of the DJ's in my generation of battling are also resurfacing to compete again. And that just ups the ante even more. According to DMC's event coordinator, Christie Z, the Bay Area regional has the most DJ's registered to compete so far! All of this is exciting and unpredictable. Like all great things, you kind of have to step out for a while and take a breather before you can get back into it again. I can't wait to see everyone being put to the test and the world will be watching, and I can't wait to see who the next hometown hero will be.
Amoeblog: What has been the status of the local Bay Area battle DJ/turntablist scene since the last DMC battle here?
Snayk Eyez: I think the turntablist/battle DJ scene has been stagnant since the last time DMC was in the Bay. Of course there's been a handful of local DJ battles floating around, but not in a good while. And when there's not enough exposure to battling, naturally there won't be enough DJ's competing. But there's always room for a good scratch session whenever someone wants to throw one! With that said, I help run a FREE monthly event in SF called Skratchpad (with Celskiii and Deeandroid) where it's open-turntables, and anyone can get up on stage and scratch in front of everyone. We also get all kinds of local DJ's to do DMC-style performances. We also get MC's and B-boy crews to showcase as well, so it's always different every month. It's a cool outlet for people to hang out and stay sharp with their skills. We've been doing that since 2003... and it's just now starting to get more widespread attention. We now have chapters in Sacramento, San Jose, and LA, and it has inspired other cities to start their own events like Seattle's Skratch Lounge, and the Skratch Lab in San Diego. And I'm really happy to see all of this happen.
The Bay Area DMC Regional battle happens tomorrow, Saturday April 7th, at 330 Ritch. Doors open at 4pm (it ends at 10pm) and the battle begins at about 4:30pm with the 2min elimination round ending by 730pm. Then there will be an entertainment break with showcase sets from La Femme and inbituin. At 8pm the final six DJs will battle it out to determine the new 2012 DMC Bay Area Regional champ who will be announced at 9:30pm (approx) after the second showcase set by Mista B and Snayk Eyez with Hopie. The event ends but the official after party then starts in same venue at 10pm. If you plan on attending and are driving allow extra time for parking. More info in links below