DJ Traps working his winning routine @ last night's 2013 San Franciso Regional DMC DJ Battle
Proving that you really can make lemonade out of lemons DJ Traps - last night's winner of the 2013 San Francisco Regional DMC DJ Battle - shared during his acceptance speech that his personal life had not been going so good lately but that, via his craft, he had managed to turn all that negativity into something positive. "I been through a lot of shit recently," admitted the winner of the prestigious DJ battle without going into detail. "But I took it all out here," he said gesturing towards the two turntable and mixer set up on which he had just done his stunning six minute winning routine of the heated, high caliber DJ battle.
The competition - the second annual Bay Area DMC Regional in a row after a noticeable six year gap of any DMC battles in the Bay - was a fun and talent-packed turntable competition that was as much a DJ battle as it was a reunion and gathering of Bay Area hip-hop DJs of the past few decades. In addition to young DJ cats like Santa Rosa competitor DJ Lazy Boy (aka Gregory The Great) there were OG Bay Area DJs like DJ Apollo, Pos Red, DJ Quest, and QBert who all started out in the 80's as well as next generation DJs like Teeko, Snayk Eyez, and Golden Chyld who arrived on the scene in the 90's. The whole event, that ran from mid afternoon into the evening at Neck of The Woods on Clement St. in San Francisco, exuded good vibes and a shared love by all in the house for hip-hop DJ'ing and scratch music. DJ Lazy Boy, who placed third in the competition, said during his acceptance speech onstage with DJ Apollo - the MC of the night - that he had grown up listening to the Triple Threat DJ crew (the Bay Area supergroup featuring Apollo along with Shortkut and Vin Roc - another one of the night's judges) and that he used to practice his DJing to, using routines done by Apollo as his template, noting that "it was an honor" to now be onstage alongside his turntable hero.
Following a great warm up set by Mista B, who dug deep in his crates to spin lots of old school and golden era classics (Grandmaster Flash + Furious Five featuring Melle Mel, Run DMC, Audio Two, etc.) plus a bunch of throwbacks from the Bay Area including IMP/Cougnut and Rated X/C-Funk, the SF DMC battle started with the first round of each of eight DJs doing two minute routines.
There is a lot going on right now in Bay Area hip-hop music and what is most impressive is not just the quantity of artists making new music but the diversity of hip-hop music in the Bay Area as we head into what promises to be one a most prolific summer of music. One week ago exactly I wrote about Bay Area female rapper Kreayshawn's meteoric rise to fame within the previous week and a half, thanks in large part to her viral video "Gucci Gucci." Well since then, the buzz-worthy artist who did her first show only three months ago at SXSW, sold out her White Girl Mob show with Lil Debbie & V Nasty at SOM Bar in SF and had Erk da Jerk and Mistah Fab opening for her. More significantly she landed a major deal with SONY: reportedly a one million dollar deal of which she sees a quarter up front.
In the world of turntablism, which many agree is rooted in the Bay Area thanks to such pioneering crews as the Bulletproof Scratch Hamsters and the Invisibl Skratch Piklz, this week is a really exciting time in San Francisco. On Wednesday (June 1st) the monthly Bay Area Skratchpad party, which recently extended to LA (after Sacramento and San Jose) jumped off at the Rockit Room on Clement (formerly the Last Day Saloon). In addition to such resident DJs as Deeandroid, Celskiii, DnZ, and Snyak Eyez flexing their stuff on the turns also making beautiful turntable music were Primo, Robynn Battle, MuddBird Waxaholic, and SoundTronix. Additionally Chicken Skratch (the night's expert beat selector) was laying down an incredibly rich variety of grooves from old school to dubstep.
1) Blu & Exile Below The Heavens Re-Issue (Sound In Color)
2) Beastie Boys Hot Sauce Committee Part Two (Capitol)
3) Tyler the Creator Goblin (XL Recordings)
4) Blu Her Favorite Colo(u)r (Nature Sounds)
5) Neek The Exotic Still On The Hustle (Fatbeats)
Two of the top five on this week's hip-hop chart are from LA emcee / producer Blu and both new chart entries are actually reissues from the artist, who is now signed to Warner Brothers and busy working on his major label debut, due out later this year. The 30 minute remastered Her Favorite Colo(u)r, care of Brooklyn's Nature Sounds, was formerly a free mixtape, and is now being released officially for the first time. The other is a reissue of the long out of print acclaimed collaboration of Blu with Exile, Below The Heavens. This 2007 release was the artist's first full length album and was widely acclaimed by many as one of the best hip-hop albums not just of its year but of the decade. In fact, so in demand was the album that since it went out-of-print, much sought after copies sold on eBay for $100 to $200 a pop. Obviously, the new reissue is considerably cheaper, but be forewarned, it is a limited edition pressing, so get yours now before it's too late.