The DMC Of Olde
I discovered and started following the DMC back in the early 90’s, and what I really remember is how much effort it took to even see the events before Youtube. You couldn’t just plop down on the couch, grab the laptop and do a Google search. Every year, it would be an ordeal
of finding out when the video tapes (remember those?) were coming out, tracking down a local shop that had them in stock, plopping down three days of lunch money and driving through another two hours of LA traffic just to get into a shouting match with my sister for control over the wired remote for the VCR. Even with all that effort, I remember it always being worth every hour in the car, every missed lunch, every drop of gas, and every strained vocal chord because you always witnessed some new technique or style that got your head bobbing and the rewind button worn out.
Then after a while, that all went away. Eventually, it got to the point where it was a struggle for me to sit through an entire DJ battle. My rewind button wasn’t being worn down any more. My fast-forward button, however, was. So what happened?
Musicality started going out the door. Things stopped being innovative. Everyone started to sound the same.
Ultimately, it just didn’t sound good anymore. And it stayed that way.
Something has to change, and it’s up to you, the current generation of competitors, to make it happen. As an ex-competitor and current judge, I’m calling every one of you out right now. In the spirit of the battle, I’m challenging you to step your game up, and shut me the hell up.
It seems like scratch sets today are all focused on showing off how fast and clean you can scratch. But consider this quote from I-Emerge’s ‘04 set:
“you forgot about one little thing: It’s called THE MUSIC”.
Today’s sets are almost entirely comprised of monotonous 32nd note patterns (In case you don’t know what 32nd notes are, just imagine any really fast scratching you’ve heard recently. Those are 32nd notes). They sound more like robots going down a pre-programmed list of scratches, rather than human expression. Yeah, I get that people are varying up the scratching techniques, but guess what. It still essentially sounds the same if you’re doing everything in the same rhythm, regardless of how many different combinations of clicks, tears, and babies (the scratch technique!) you throw in there. Keep doing those techniques, but vary up the rhythm. Try adding some shuffle, swing, and syncopation to your patterns. Also, don’t ignore the effect of pitch/velocity on your scratches. Lastly, like I used to really emphasize to all my students at Cal and the norcalDJMPA with DJ’s Pone and Vin Roc, silence is also a technique. Consider Q-Bert’s words:
[Scratching is] kinda like talking, you just speak what you’re saying; . . . each technique is a word, so the larger your vocabulary, the more articulate[ly] you can speak.]
Build up the vocabulary, but use it appropriately. Personally, I don’t like talking with people when all they use are really big words while speaking at a hundred words per minute. Do you?