Tonight, Thursday August 8th, Skratchpad celebrates its ten year anniversary with a big scratch DJ party at Neck of The Woods at 408 Clement in San Francisco. Yes a full whole decade has passed since that unassuming foggy San Francisco night back in 2003 at Sublounge (20th Street off Third St in the Dogpatch district) when DJs Deeandroid and Celskiii and a group of fellow turntablist enthusiast DJ friends initiated what would go on to become the leading (and only) regular monthly DJ scratch session party in the entire San Francisco Bay Area. Been that the Bay Area, long considered the epicenter of the scratch DJ movement, was without any other regular club destination for those who love turntablism to go to perform at and/or enjoy others perform at soon solidified Skratchpad's reputation as being a very special place. Over the decade Skratchpad has relocated a few times around San Francisco venues - from long gone Sublounge to Azul to The Cellar to its current location on Clement Street, Rockit Room, now known as Neck Of The Woods - all the while providing (and always no cover charge) an appreciated oasis for fans and participants of the scratch arts to gather and share in their somewhat marginalized hip-hop musical art form. Skratchpad is all done out of a shared love of the art form of skratch DJ as proven by the always free club's mission statement mantra of "No Cover, Just Culture" plus a commitment to providing each month "Q & A Skratch Sessions// Party Rockin// Monthly Guest Showcases// Beats // with Prize Raffles & Giveaways."
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.
Coinciding with the ongoing 2011 DMC World DJ Championships happening currently in London, England at the 02 Arena's Indig02 this is the second in a two-part Amoeblog series on the current state of turntablism/skratch music (here's yesterday's Amoeblog). Note that the results for the DMC World DJ Championship battles (which end by midnight Friday, Oct 7th, UK time = 4pm West Coast time) will be published tomorrow in the Hip-Hop Weekly Rap Up Amoeblog. As you know turntablism is a musical form born out of hip-hop by the DJ but not given an actual name until the mid nineties when DJ Babu coined the term turntablism to describe the DJ as a turntable manipulation artist - one as worthy of respect as any other musical instrumentalist. By that stage I personally had already been a convert for a good decade and a half to this infectious component of hip-hop music. In fact when I first heard hip-hop in its formative days I was drawn more to the DJ than the MC. And ever since I've been hooked on the sound of scratching and spellbound by beat juggling and all the other skilled moves that the DJ as mixer & turntable master so effortlessly throws down. To me this musical style, unique to hip-hop and whose pioneers included Kool Herc, Grandmaster Flash, and Grand Wizzard Theodore (creator of the scratch), has always been deserving of its own genre or at least sub-genre. And as a diehard fan and supporter of DJ scratching from hip-hop's earliest days when I first heard in the late 70's through all the years later up to and beyond including that point when QBert altered the spelling of the word from scratch to skratch, I have thoroughly enjoyed closely following its evolvement; warmly witnessing turntablim/skratch music's creative growth as it blossomed with a seemingly never ending array of new sounds generated by an ever-progressing arsenal of new styles and techniques been added to this vibrant art form.
QBert and D-Styles at Skratchcon in 2000
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.