Volume 96, Issue 99
Friday, April 4, 2003

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Wiggity wack: Local DJs rise up at The Wave

By Benjamin Freedman
Gazette Staff

J-Lo and Ja Rule likely won't be making any guest appearances this Saturday at The Wave. Still, the Technics DMC DJ Championships should offer insight into the roots of hip-hop and showcase some of Ontario's strongest turntablists.

Even though the event features all the elements of hip-hop (turntablism, emcee, graffiti and b-boy/girl), the turntablists will definitely be the focus.

Other events will include an emcee battle, a showdown between local breakdance crews Albino Sebrahs and Futonics and a bomb session for graffiti artists behind Dr. Disc at noon.

Rod Skimmins, aka LEDside, will be hosting the event. He has been a mainstay on the London underground hip-hop scene for close to eight years, and talks with a profound sense of excitement about this year's talent.

"The people who are really going to be impressive are those who should have been in the competition before: Butter and Swift. But they're just my friends. Other than them, I guarantee the winner will be someone that no one has ever heard of: a bedroom DJ. The guy will come out of nowhere and just wow everyone with crazy techniques," Skimmins says.

As an art, turntablism embraces the simplicity which characterized old school hip-hop and made it so attractive. Essentially, it's the skill of cutting between tracks to create new sounds.

"One of the things that has changed is that now DJs are doing more with their hands. They are utilizing more of the mixer, more of the turntable and more of the record," Skimmins explains.

Jeremy Horrell, the event organizer, is less excited by the technical aspects of the event and more by the melding of the mainstream and underground communities.

"In London there seems to be a lot of basement DJs who never get out to the clubs. It is an acquired taste because it is always changing and more complicated – this is probably why it never made its way into the mainstream clubs," Horrell says.

The event's success or failure will invariably be determined by the vibe created by the DJs. Steve Lewis, a judge for the event and member of the hip-hop crew Triad, suggested that, ironically, it will be the crowd's response that qualifies the strength or weakness of a rotation.

"I'll be looking for the straight skills and creativity," Lewis says. "A lot of people might go up there and do the same sort of thing I've heard over and over again. The true artists are easily distinguished by their scratching and their presence.

"Honestly, the more hyped you get the crowd, the more hyped you're going to look."

The 2003 Technics DMC Canadian DJ Championships will take place at The Wave on Saturday, Apr. 5 from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m.. Tickets are $15 in advance at Dr. Disc Remastered, or $20 at the door.


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