Watching an old DJ Battle today got me reminiscing. I’ve always been a visual artist and a lover of music (Art is in my blood). But starting in the early 90s and lasting til the last 2000’s I was obsessed with DJing. The height of my fascination peaked in my high school/ early college years. I spent literal hours in record stores, flea markets, my family’s collections, and any records I could find. I spent even more time in my room watching vhs videos, battles, and listening to recordings of DJs trying to teach myself how to mix, scratch, beat juggle, and perform routines. I taught what little I knew to hundreds of kids too.
Here’s a photo my friend Melissa took of me performing in one of the Zebra Records DJ battles. I attempted to DJ parties, events, make mixtapes, and entered DJ competition (Zebra, ITF, UC Berkeley) but I was never really that great at it. But, I had so much fun. I participated in a hip hop club started by Hodari Davis at Berkeley High and I learned so much from watching people who were truly passionate about the art of DJing, Mixing, party rocking, music, and competing as turntablists. There were many lessons I took away such as originality, stage presence, timing, innovation, cultivating community, looking for the next thing to inspire you, etc. But above all I learned about generosity, love and discipline. Doesn’t matter how good you think you are, you can always improve. And what point is there in hiding your talent? Share it so the next generation can be inspired, so they can inspire you, and so on.
Shout out to Zebra Records-a pillar of the San Francisco/ Bay Area hip hop community that not only sold records and DJ equipment but created a church/community center where young people like myself could share, grow, and learn. Shout out to DJ Wisdom, Israel, Alan Corazon, and all the incredible DJs I met at Zebra such as Mista B and Teeko of 41Funk, Goldenchyld and Cutso of The FingerBangers, Nuttz, so many many. I went by “King Tres” back then btw. I still dig for new music, and I occasionally buy vinyl. Wish I still had my Zebra Records slip mats.
Here’s a video of a reunion they did in 2010 w/the creators of Skratchpad (Celskiii & Deeandroid)