Tonight (February 24th) is another installment of Snapback LBC at The Federal Bar in Downtown Long Beach. This week’s special guest is Dj 360 + residents Dj Icy Ice, Dj Remark, & Dj Orion & hosted by Toquan The MC. If you love classic Hip Hop & R&B, this is a perfect way to kick off your weekend!
Our big brother The Magnificent DJ Jazzy Jeff recently collaborated with some of your favorite artist and producers to create an album at his house in 7 days!
When Jazzy Jeff hit’s your line, you make sure to answer the call. This was not your ordinary studio session where the artist has a few months to create and record and release. In the intro video, you hear Jazzy Jeff explaining that they are going to write, produce, record, mix and release a couple days after the completion of the project. R&B artist Glenn Lewis is the albums lead vocalist and will add his flavor to each track!
Jazzy Jeff said that some of the music that is out these days doesn’t give you goosebumps when you hear the track, so the idea of this project is to chase those goosebumps.
Chasing Goosebumps is available now and ready for you to listen and feel those goosebumps.
Progression is something that we all thrive off of and enjoy. It's often seen as a very positive thing as it should be, but there is a negative side to progression that is quite common. There are ways to cope well with the negativity that comes along with progression, but before we discuss that we need to understand how progression works. What you must realize is that progression in scratching tends to happen in incremental steps. It often takes many twists and turns before something comes out just right, so when a moment of clarity hits you and it all comes together that is actually the result of many smaller steps of progression that lead to that experience.
It really boils down to replacing inaccuracies with correct technique. Often times there are multiple things that are going wrong within any given thing you're working on. Not only do you have to correct these things, but you need to further correct the so called correct way of doing things as you're likely to still be somewhat off from what is truly accurate. This means that you'll be spending much more time doing things incorrectly than otherwise. This leads to developing bad habits that you'll be working regularly to break and replace with good habits (accurate technique).
Unfortunately this is where progression is mixed with regression which is the unfortunate side of progression. It's very similar to the expression, "Old habits die hard." Considering all of this, it's even more devastating to realize that we're mostly unconscious of letting our old habits get the best of us despite learning good habits to replace them with. When this happens it's typical to get upset and feel like all your hard work wasn't worth it. It's only natural to feel puzzled about not being able to do something that we just did moments before.
While there is no miracle cure for this issue there are things that can be done. One of the most important things you can do is always be prepared to write about your major moments of progress as they happen. Yes that's right. Actually stop what you're doing and write down exactly what took place. While it would seem better to keep attempting to do the same thing over and over again after it happened, it can cause too many distractions as your old habits can creep in, adding confusion to what actually worked in the first place. Writing things out brings clarity in your scratching that otherwise wouldn't be there and gives you something to focus on so you can be much more aware of what to do and what not to do.
The Big Picture Gets Even Bigger
The beauty of this strategy beyond making it easier to cope with regression is it actually helps to speed up your overall progression. This is because, once accustomed to this approach, you will be spending far less time getting stuck on bad habits that sabotage your progress and far more time on what does work. This is even truer over longer periods of time. Think of it like a high interest savings account where large deposits are made regularly instead of withdrawals, allowing the interest to yield much higher amounts of money for you as years go by.
A Time and a Place
Sometimes progression will hit you at times where stopping to write about it won't be ideal or even appropriate. Such situations would be jam sessions or live performances. Make sure to fully realize the difference between scratch practice and performance. Understand that what I have laid out for you in this article is a practice strategy. Jamming is a time to let all your hard work shine for you and express yourself to the best of your abilities without having to worry about further improvement. Don't worry if anything passes you by during those times. As long as you are on top of things during practice you'll get more than enough progression out of yourself.
You can always reflect afterwards about your performance and what allowed you to excel. I strongly recommend recording your scratch jams whenever possible. You may not always be able to recall what you'd like to since there can be so much to think about during a performance situation. Watching and listening back to what you did can be an excellent way to jog your memory as well as capture the joy of your performance.
What’s Good family, “Watch The Sound” is back! In this episode we feature the 4 X IDA World Champion, DJ IQ of the Handroids & Scratch Function LA. Check him out @djiqhandroidz.
In this episode we feature the 4 X IDA World Champion, DJ IQ of the Handroids & Scratch Function LA. Check him out @djiqhandroidz.
Peep our digital record pool and all things Beat Junkies at www.beatjunkies.com
Beat Junkie Institute of Sound coming in Spring 2017 for more info go to www.beatjunkiesound.com
In honor of the 17th Year Anniversary of the legendary Big Pun‘s passing, Dj/Remix Editor Dj Cyberkid did a special 2017 tribute of the late great MC. A lot of the songs in the mix are Cyberkid’s own special edits & can be found on our Beat Junkies Record Pool. Sign up & get them at www.beatjunkies.com
Dj Nu-Mark is back with his dope Zodiac Tracks Mix, and for this star sign he drops an extra lengthy one for all the amazing artist that are Aquarius!
In the words of Dj Nu-Mark “They put 100% feel into their work and you can hear it in their music.”
Download and listen to the Aquarius mix below on Dj Nu-Mark’s Soundcloud.
Watch as Dj Nu-Mark live needle drop technique on this mix as well! To view the video of this mix on Dj Nu-Mark’s site follow this link!
5 Artists You Need To Know
2. Kevin Abstract
3. Yung Simmie
4. Kate Tempest
We've all been through it. You're looking forward all day to scratching. The day creeps along and by the time you're home and ready, you just want to sit down, watch tv and relax. You think, "I'll just chill for a bit, then I'll get on the cut." Yet before you know it, thirty minutes turns into an hour, an hour turns into two and now all you want to do is sleep. Or at the very least not get up. You think, "I'll just scratch tomorrow." No big deal right? Right! If this was only just an occasional occurrence, but if you look back on all the times this has happened, you're probably staring right down the barrel of a ton of missed scratch progression and fun.
Guilt is Not Enough
You almost feel guilty knowing how much time you've actually cheated yourself out of. It's frustrating, but you can't get that time back so what do you do? Perhaps resolve to breaking out of the trap of time wasting. Yet there's still a part of you that doesn't really believe you can change so radically. Guilt will only take you so far. While guilt can be a motivator, a lot of times it only deflates us. So we avoid it in order to not feel bad about ourselves instead of actually fixing the problem. It's unfortunate because approaching the issue like this only sets you up to repeat this cycle of failure.
Why Approach Life With an All or Nothing Mentality?
That question might sound funny considering this article seems very much like exactly that. Let me assure you it's not the case. There is a time and a place for everything that brings you joy in life provided it doesn't hurt you or anyone else. What you really have to assess is, are the activities you regularly engage in actually all that enjoyable. Sadly, many times this is not the case. You're simply just going through the motions of life.
Going back to television as an example, if something you're watching is adding fuel to the fire and filling you full of inspiration to scratch, than that should be considered a wise investment of your time (provided you act on that inspiration of course). On the other hand, if what you're watching is just idle chatter and not inspiring you to do anything more than just sink further into the couch, then you should probably get up immediately and go accomplish something more worthy of your time.
Start Small or You Won't Start at All
The most common mistake people make about achievement is that a lot has to be accomplished in a short period of time and if you don't get a ton of things accomplished in one day, somehow you've failed yourself. With that type of thinking it's no wonder so many people put things off so regularly. The truth is that type of thinking is very small. Most likely all those big things that you feel the need to get done quickly are very minor when put up against the big picture.
Focus on the Big Picture!
You have to think about what you ultimately want to achieve from scratching. From how you'll sound, how you'll be perceived, what impact you'll make, whether you want a professional career, what you'll get out of that career, etc. Most importantly, you have to really take time to imagine and get close with how achieving all those things will really make you feel. Now ask yourself, what do you need to do to make your scratch goals a reality? Now ask yourself, what can I do right now at this very moment to get me closer to my goals? Believe it or not that answer does not have to be something equally big. How could it if you truly created a large scale dreamscape for yourself?
The fact of life we all know too well is nothing is achieved overnight. However, taking steps in the right direction consistently will get you there, even if those steps are baby sized. So take bigger steps when you can, but always take forward steps of any size and I promise you won't regret it.
It’s that time again….February is Dilla Month; that means we’re celebrating the life & music of the legendary James Yancey aka J.Dilla.
Starting it off in San Francisco on Saturday, February 4th is the “This One Is 4 Dilla” party w/ Dj Spinna, our very own Shortkut, Papalote Soundsystem’s Mr. E, Dj Haylow, & Dj Platurn. Hosted by Fran Boogie, Randall Rufino, & Carey Koop. All happening at the Mezzanine. This event always sells out so come EARLY! For more info/tix: tickets @ eventbrite.com
448 S. Main Street Los Angeles, CA
8pm | Get Tickets Here | 18+
$10 Advance | $15 at Door
A short Live performance by:
“Watch The Sound” is back! This time, straight outta Texas we have the one & only DJ Dopez! Make sure to check him out @dopez1200
Filmed & edited by @swiftstyle
Co-produced by @underkut www.openformat.la
Peep our digital record pool and all things Beat Junkies at www.beatjunkies.com
Beat Junkie Institute of Sound coming in Spring 2017 for more info go to www.beatjunkiesound.com
Last summer the Beat Junkies were honored with an invitation to DJ Jazzy Jeff’s 2nd annual Playlist Retreat – a private invitational hosted by the Magnificent himself at his home in Deleware. Man. As you can imagine it was a beyond amazing week of collaboration and inspiration, all in the company of wonderful, talented people. One of the many highlights at Jeff’s retreat were the exclusive first looks at the newest DJ hardware from the music industry’s leading companies, which is where Roland officially introduced the new DJ 808 controller.
I’ve been DJ’ing since 1988 and have always played on turntables throughout my enitre career. That being said, I have for years been reluctant to step outside of my comfort zone where digital technology is concerned. I’ve never played a set on CDJs nor been the least bit interested in making an attempt to perform on anything other than turntables, if for no better reason than sticking to what I know. However, thanks to the good folks at Roland, the Beat Junkies were gifted the new DJ 808 controller and were asked to choreograph a performance showcase on their behalf. As an artist, the last position you ever want to be in is unprepared for a live performance, so it was imperative that I learn the DJ 808 and had a thorough understanding of at least the very basic functions, for starters… Essentially this meant I would need to reprogram myself as a DJ in a few ways, probably the most significant of which was to acquire a feel for 2 jog wheels that do not move (as opposed to a motorized turntable). As with any new instrument, the DJ 808 can be intimidating at first glance – 4 channels, multiple effects, faders and buttons everywhere, a drum machine sequencer that syncs with your tracks.. It’s certainly a lot to make sense of all at once. However, after dedicating a few days of practice I was able to get comfortable with the general functions and overall feel of the unit, and within less than a week I was able to exercise all of my turntable techniques on the DJ 808 and felt confident I could compose a “Beat Junkie Style” set that would include both creative mixing and scratching.
I have since had a few opportunities to showcase the Roland DJ 808 at various events, and other than “how do you like it?”, the question I get asked the most is about digital latency. To be completely transparent, there is a very slight adjustment that we as DJs need to make where hand control is concerned. Apart from that, the DJ 808 responds very well and is extremely accurate in translating DJ techniques. In fact, to all DJs worldwide, I can say with 100% certainty that the new DJ-808 is without a doubt worth consideration for everyone. Roland has created something special and is truly an organization that respects and appreciates the art of DJ’ing. Special thanks once again to DJ Descry and the entire team at Roland for continually creating new ways for us to play and make music. Let’s all keep an open mind where technology is concerned and keep pushing the art.
by DJ Melo-D
Be on the lookout for the Beat Junkie Institute of Sound – a specialized DJ school and training facility located in Los Angeles brought to you by the Beat Junkie Crew.. Grand Opening Spring 2017!
For more info: www.beatjunkiesound.com
Once again we are back with another installment of “Watch The Sound”. This time we are blessed with some FUNKY cuts by DJ, producer & Musician, the homie, DJ Day. Make sure to check him out at www.djday.net | Filmed by @underkut | www.openformat.la
Peep our digital record pool and all things Beat Junkies at www.beatjunkies.com
Beat Junkie Institute of Sound coming in Spring 2017 for more info go to www.beatjunkiesound.com
If you're going through a low moment right now or have in the past, I feel for you because we all do. I've been through many myself throughout all my years as a turntablist. These kinds of feelings are tough to navigate through and not naturally easy to break out of. However, there are many ways to break the chains of procrastination towards your scratch goals. One such way has very little to do with you personally and very much to do with other people or things.
The answer may seem obvious, but too often we get so caught up in ourselves and what we want to achieve, that we forget to look outside ourselves for inspiration. Sometimes you have to put scratching aside and seek some clarity. Take a moment to reflect on your life and think about all the things that have inspired you to take action. Try not to limit your thinking while doing so. Sources of inspiration come in all shapes and sizes, from watching a master musician live to listening to an amazing, heartfelt speech to taking a scenic tour of a beautiful city and so much more.
Blatantly Indulging in Inspiration
Once you're clear on what outside sources inspire you most, it's time to indulge in them. Forget about forcing yourself to scratch or just sitting around feeling like a stick in the mud. You can give yourself full permission to leave it all behind for now and get completely lost in inspiration.
Think of it Like a Fuel Station
When you're firing on all four cylinders, it's inevitable that you're going to run out of gas eventually. Yet you can't allow yourself to stay on empty or you'll never get what you ultimately want out of scratching. You need to refuel and stay on top of your scratching regularly. Regularly does not mean constantly though. It means finding a balance between your art form and the other things that make life enjoyable to you.
Adding a New Dimension to Your Cuts
A great side benefit to deriving inspiration from other sources beyond yourself is it can get you to think of life differently and how you perceive things. These experiences help shape who you are and who you are will always be reflected in your scratch style.
For example, going on a bold and adventurous hike could lead you to make bolder and more adventurous choices when you scratch. Another experience that can help shape your art might be checking out some abstract paintings. Perhaps your scratching was too straightforward and lacking creativity, but now the paintings you saw have opened your mind to a more exotic style of scratching that really captures your imagination.
Multiple Sources of Inspiration Are Necessary
Be careful not to get too dependent on any one source of inspiration. Doing so could lead to that source becoming watered down and ineffective for you in providing motivation. When you keep a variety of inspirational sources at your fingertips, you'll find that certain things inspire you more at certain times than others. This is great because it means you'll have your bases covered at all times.
You Are Not a Robot
You can't expect to be at peak motivation all the time. Nor can you allow yourself to remain unmotivated regardless of what lead you to feel that way. Sometimes no matter how much you surround yourself with inspiration it just won't be enough.
It will be necessary at times to simply force yourself to take action. This doesn't mean that all that time trying to get motivated was wasted though. The cool thing is once you get going, that inspiration will pour out into your scratching whether you realize it or not. As mentioned earlier, what you surround yourself with becomes a part of who you are and who you are is everything when it comes to expressing yourself with scratching.
Good phrasing in scratching is a lot like writing a good sentence. If done well it will contain all the necessary punctuation to get your point across. If you have a lot to say in one sentence, it helps to break things up by adding commas (or even parenthesis). Sometimes you may need to blatantly pause… for effect. All of these elements create a conversational tone to what you are writing.
If you choose to ignore punctuation in your phrasing, at best you are most likely irritating the listener. It is very typical for a lot of scratch dj's to do this. They go and go, yet rarely stop to see if the listener is still paying attention. When that happens the listener will usually tune out due to overwhelm. Fortunately enough for us, this issue can be remedied.
Are Your Ears On Break?
It may seem obvious that there are countless ways to use silence in scratching. In all honesty though, there are a lot of ways that I was unaware of. One of the key ways is to become a better listener when scratching. Even in a conversation, if you’re the dominant speaker, it helps to give the person you’re speaking to the chance to acknowledge what you’re saying. This can come in the form of words like: okay, yes, right I see.
When this concept is used in a scratch solo, the other person becomes the beat you are scratching over. If you never pause to hear the beat, it can be difficult to know if your scratching is really meshing well. In fact, if you really aren’t paying attention you can really start to clash rhythmically. This is similar to when someone is ready to respond to what you’ve said and they do, but you don’t notice because you’re still talking. It can be a total train wreck!
Picking Up The Pieces
Clearly, unless you enjoy embarrassing moments, avoiding the above scenario is desirable. So let’s define your goal. You want to captivate people with your scratching and give them an enjoyable and memorable experience. If they really enjoy what you do, they’ll likely be back for more.
Pausing regularly, even for brief moments, is a great way to keep track of where you are in the beat and stay in sync with the rhythm. When this happens you will flow more smoothly. You’ll be more at one with the beat and the listener WILL notice. Even if they aren’t really into scratching, you have a better chance of capturing their interest. If they enjoy the beat you’re scratching over, they’ll likely be more into you, simply because you’re blending in with the beat more successfully.
A Strong Accent
There are defining moments in a beat that you should definitely pay attention to. You can save yourself a lot of trouble by taking advantage of this. One such typical way is to pause at the end of a loud snare drum. If one particular snare drum is louder(more dynamic) than the rest, try pausing as soon as it ends. This will naturally bring out more strength in that part of the beat and your solo.
I get an image of a drumhead being punctured or a speaker popping. It’s also similar to adding multiple exclamation points to your sentence!!! Be wary not to overuse this idea as it can become too predictable, but when used in moderation it can really catch your listener off guard. As we all know, being too predictable equals boredom. The opposite is also true. When no one knows what to expect it makes for VERY interesting scratching.
No Need For Crutches
So as you can see, boredom is not a friend of ours. We need to take extra caution to make sure that we’re not over dependent on silence in our scratch solos. The saying, “all good things in moderation, including moderation”, applies here.
There are times when silence can actually be detrimental to what you’re trying to express. You may have a whirlwind of fast, crazy emotion to unload on the listener. If you were to use silence throughout that part of your solo, much of the impact would be lost. By waiting to add silence after you’ve expressed those emotions, you not only get the full idea out properly but you add extra impact by ending in an abrupt manner.
The Balancing Act
Ultimately we want to control silence. Not let it control us. You do this by developing a great sense of when to use it and how much of it to use. Experimentation during scratch practice is a great way to further improve upon this skill. I highly recommend recording and reviewing your scratching to hear if you are violating or emulating the principles laid out in this article.
It may be painful at times to hear mistakes you are making. However, awareness of one’s faults is extremely vital to effectively improving as a scratch dj. You may not even catch all of your mistakes. If you are new to this concept it can be tough to perceive what is right or wrong. That is okay. Going through the process of thinking things through on your own, will do wonders for your awareness. Thus, you’ll find that you’re increased awareness will lead to improvement in many other areas of your scratching.
In the spirit of Christmas, our very good friend, Dj Dstrukt showcases a special DJ showcase using the limited edition Serato Christmas Sweater control vinyl, as he flips his own versions of classic Christmas songs. Enjoy! Ho Ho Ho….Happy Holidays!
Producer Extraordinaire Dj Exile of the mighty Dirty Science crew & his cohort, producer Sirplus, brings to you a special Christmas gift!
“In the Spirit of Christmas I decided to make this gift to you, 9 Original Christmas Beats From me and Co Host Sirplus. We Cooked up this beat and this mix in only 10 days. Also Enjoy a Free Stream of my new album with long time partner in Crime Aloe Blacc, but hes rapping & killing it.”
For the next installment of “A Moment With” we spoke with D-Styles. His involvement with the seminal music collectives Invisibl Skratch Piklz + The Beat Junkies progressed DJ culture in the 90s + 00s, and he continues to pave the way for Turntablist / Beat heads as a resident of the long-running “Low End Theory” event based in Los Angeles.
How many times have you approached a problem thinking you had the solution, only to find moments later that you were trying all kinds of other things to solve it? Or worse, you thought you found the solution and then in the blink of an eye you forgot it already. The sad thing is all of this could've been avoided had you made the effort to do one simple thing. That simple thing is taking notes.
Solutions Don't Come Easy
Yet they come even less easy when we aren't consistently looking for them. You may feel that you're thinking about how to cope with your struggles in scratching, but it's the depth of your thinking that measures the quality of your solutions. Generally, especially in the act of scratching, our thought process is very shallow. This is especially true the less experienced you are at successfully overcoming challenges in your scratching, because you have so many more things to think about that could be going wrong.
When you approach a practice session with a plan to document solutions you come across, your thought process automatically deepens. This is because writing things down takes a lot more focus when scratching then just thinking briefly about what might improve things. Not only because you have to actually stop what you're doing to write things down, but you're automatically going through a review process in order to write it out properly. Additionally, you can come back at any time and review what you wrote further, as well as weigh it out against future sessions that might shed further light on the validity of your previous notes.
Complex Problems Need Serious Care
If you were in school facing an extremely challenging exam and you didn't take any notes during lectures that preceded it, how well do you think you'd do? You would most likely not do well and perhaps even fail. As a serious student, you can bet you wouldn't let that happen. Yet when it comes to practicing the art of scratching, you probably wouldn't even consider taking notes at all. Admittedly for most, it's a pretty foreign concept. However, that level of care will put you head and shoulders above the rest.
Taking Notes Might Not Seem Fun
Guess what is much less fun though. Performing at a mediocre level because you weren't proactive enough to take the actions necessary for greater, faster improvement at scratching. Believe me, having a moment of realization then capturing that moment, is actually more exhilarating than you might imagine. It's the feeling of ensuring all your hard work is going to pay off instead of just hoping it will.
Documenting Your Thoughts Doesn't Come With a Guarantee
Admittedly, taking notes about what you think are solutions to your problems, does not mean that what you write is always going to improve things. However, not writing out your thoughts increases the odds that you don't get your problems fixed in a timely manner, if at all. In fact writing out the wrong solution is actually still a step in the right direction because it makes it easier to eliminate it from the possibilities of what is going to pan out. You don't want to think you have a solution, find out it doesn't work, still not have a working solution and then stumble upon it again, repeating the process. Now you have a document of what to avoid as well.
Before You Find Solutions You Must Find Problems
All this advice is well and great, but what if you don't even know what your problems are? Note taking can still aid you in such situations. If you haven't spent some serious time examining what's wrong with your scratching, you'll be even further behind. Fortunately such a predicament is reversible. Simply follow the advice I've given you in this article, but with problem finding in mind and before you know it, you'll have a whole laundry list of things you can seek out solutions to.
Reviewing is Undeniably Crucial
Note taking is great, but reviewing your notes is where the true power lies. Otherwise, you're just a minor step beyond those who only think about solutions. Repetition is the mother of mastery, so finding a solution and continually reviewing it will get it imprinted permanently in your brain, making it that much more reliable info to actually put into practice. So don't let all your effort to find solutions go to waste. Get out what you put in and watch the results stack up.
We the Beat Junkies are always looking for new ways to make music as well appreciating new techniques and this is something we think you should check out if you want expand on your repetoire. Ladies & Gentleman…..Beat Discovery!
“If you make beats, then you’ve probably sifted through hundreds of sounds, loading them individually, only to program the same pattern you’ve made a thousand times. It’s extremely tedious, and can take the fun out of making a beat. Beat Discovery is the first drum sequencer of it’s kind, and was designed to solve this problem. It makes programming sounds fun, creative, and super easy. It’s easy for beginners & made for and by professionals.
The idea was to merge the ease of analog drum machines together with the digital world of unlimited sounds. After the initial user interface was designed, they both partnered up to bring something new to the world of electronic music.”
Check out Ruckazoid & Teeko make 15 beats in 20 minutes!
Download BeatDiscovery Presents: The Findings Vol 1: http://bit.ly/thefindingsvol1
For more info on BeatDiscovery & download the progrom, go to https://www.beatdiscovery.com/
Have you ever felt like you were putting way too much effort into scratching? You push and push and yet your results seem to be pretty stagnant. Well there are several symptoms that could be at the root of your suffering. In this article I plan to focus in on one of them.
This issue typically plagues the beginner worse than anyone, but make no mistake, this can and will affect anyone. I’m talking about unnecessary tension in the fader hand. I want to share with you some ways you can begin to alleviate this problem so you can focus on your development as a scratch dj more freely.
Taking An Assessment
First let’s take a look at your average beginner scratch dj so we can get a better understanding of what I’m addressing. You begin scratching and the fader is all over the place. You just can’t seem to control it. You’re having trouble getting together any proper technique. You’re probably strong arming the fader way too much and straying way too far from the cut off point.
Does Equipment And It’s Settings Play A Role?
Now two things have to be made clear before I go any further. If you want to get the most out of your scratching in the short and long term you need to have your cutoff point set as close to instant as possible. Also it’s ideal to have a very loose fader. I personally love the fader of the Rane 56, but regardless of what mixer you have, nowadays there are options for using scratch friendly faders regardless of what type of mixer you’re using.
No Fader Control, No Dice
Obviously if you have a hard time controlling the fader you will have basically no hope of getting any decent scratches pulled off. The solution to this may seem as obvious as taking the power you’re exerting back a few notches and in a way it is. In fact the solution is actually not much more complex than that.
What you need to realize is that although this will help, you are not through correcting this problem. Ultimately you need to discover with experimentation what the least amount of power is needed to control the fader and only use that. Simple right? Well not so fast. Understand that this is not a fix and forget issue. Only through consistent, highly concentrated awareness can you really reap the benefits of focusing on this method.
Why All DJ’s Will Benefit
This is truly a lesson for scratch dj’s at any level. No matter how well you grasp the concept of minimum power you can always improve your current scratch technique. I personally can attest to this as I’ve gone through many stages of this issue.
Sometimes you may be taking on a new technique and have yet to really gauge what is needed to pull it off. You may be starting off slow and not ready to put a lot of speed into it. You may be doing one technique that requires more energy and power than another technique. Not to mention all the combinations of scratch techniques you already know. As you can see it begins to become somewhat intricate.
Narrowing Down The Process
What we need to do right now is take things down a notch. Several notches in fact. Take the most simplest fader based scratch possible. We’ll use a forward 2 click transform for this exercise.
Execute a simple forward transform scratch over and over at a low tempo such as 60 beats per minute and pay close attention to how much power you’re exerting. Is your forearm, wrist or hand getting sore? Are you pushing the fader too far away from the cut off point? Is the sound of the record running out before you have a chance to finish? These are things you should be asking yourself as you’re performing the transform scratch. If the answer is yes to any of these, try relaxing and releasing as much power as you can while still maintaining control.
Is Doing Nothing A Solution?
Well yes, it can actually be a highly effective solution. However you would not simply be doing nothing and stopping there. You would be resting between each repetition. This is one of the easiest ways to avoid unnecessary tension. So always make sure you bear that in mind.
While it is typical while learning new scratches that there will be some forearm burn, you can usually reduce it substantially by following the advice outlined in this article, especially this particular point. In fact it really doesn’t matter what technique or combinations of techniques you do. Resting between every transition will make a HUGE difference.
What Else Is Choking The Life Out Of Your Potential?
There is another culprit that creates unnecessary tension while scratching and that is unnecessary tension in the body. While it may seem obvious by now that you need to have just the right amount of tension in your hand, wrist and arm, it’s important to note that holding extra tension in other parts of your body can be detrimental as well.
The biggest key here is awareness. You have to pay attention to how you’re feeling while you’re scratching. If you notice that you’re tightening up in your neck, back or another area you’ll need to consider changing your posture and sending a message to your brain to relax. This is a process that will require consistent, focused monitoring so keep alert.
Keeping Things At The Forefront Of Your Mind
One final point I’d like to mention is that you shouldn’t just read this article and then leave it to memory. Use this information to your advantage on a regular basis. You can potentially shave off years of frustration by following this advice. Stay aware, focused and above all else have fun!
If you’d like to know more about this topic there’s an excellent video by my music mentor Tom Hess. While he’s primarily focused on guitar you can easily apply the concepts he’s teaching to scratching as this article has demonstrated. Enjoy: Finger Tension
Our very own Rhettmatic did a special 45 set at the Soul Summit Dance Party in Chicago this past weekend. Before his gig, he recorded a couple of practice sets to help him prep up for the gig:
“This past Sat. (11/19/16), I had the pleasure of spinning a special 45 set at the Soul Summit Dance Party – the Double Door in Chicago. To tell you the truth, I was kinda nervous because of the high caliber of talent that spun at this event that I had to live up to: my Beat Junkie brother J.Rocc, Breakbeat Lou, Peanut Butter Wolf, Prince Paul, Ali Shaheed Muhaamad (ATCQ), Dj Maseo (De La Soul), Adrian Younge, Rich Medina, Dj Spinna; you get the picture. So the whole week before my gig, I literally went thru all my 45 vinyl records to prepare for my set, & I tell ya, I was kinda overwhelmed….hahah!
Anyways, after changing my set a couple of times & get some practice in, I recorded a couple of practice runs with all the skips, spinbacks, & record burns included. This is the best recorded take out of all of them. I ended up not playing exactly what I did at Soul Summit but this mix is gives you an idea what I tried to do. Thank you to Dave Mata, Scott Williams, & the rest of the crew. Hope you like it!”
The ego is a funny thing. When it comes to our musical skills, most of us don’t let our ego rage out of control telling us how amazing we are. We tend to believe that we have a pretty firm grasp on what our current ability of scratching is. Unfortunately, even the most level headed, conscientious individual will have trouble being highly aware of all their scratching flaws.
Sometimes what we want to hear and expect from ourselves becomes what we hear despite the fact that it is not what’s actually happening. Consider a singer who has nearly mastered a popular song. The line between nailing the song and almost nailing it is very thin. As time goes on their vision of what they’re working towards could seemingly come into reality. However, another singer who is also very familiar with the song could likely spot some mistakes that the first singer is making such as occasionally going out of key.
If that person was to be informed that they’re having problems, it may be difficult for them to take the critique seriously. A situation like this could benefit greatly from a recording. If they listened well to a recording of themselves they’d likely catch the mistakes that their mind wasn’t allowing them to hear in the midst of actually singing it. This is great for the singer because they now have the dose of reality they need to tackle the last parts of the song that are preventing them from getting it down cold.
What This Means From A Scratch DJ Perspective
Since scratching is much more physical, video recording would actually be more beneficial for catching all the flaws that are holding you back. With scratching there are so many things that could be improved and in order for it all to sound like you mean for it to sound, you must be very precise. Often times you can be barely off in your scratch technique or timing, so it’s crucial that you have the ability to review your scratching with a critical ear and eye since it’s much harder to catch such minor issues while in the act.
How Often Should You Video Record Yourself?
Well, it really depends on your skill level and needs. However, a good general guideline would be as often as once a week and no less than once a month. If you are practicing scratching daily a month is a long time to go without giving yourself the type of feedback that video recording affords you. Since we’re naturally prone to miss a lot of the flaws without such perspective, letting months and months go by can be dangerously risky.
Even a week can be a long time if your practice efforts are efficient and effective. If you’re working through a quality daily scratch practice strategy your progress should be notable each week. In fact, recording weekly could be an eye opener that your practice strategy may not be as effective as you assumed it was. Video is a good way to review your victories and defeats and gear the following week’s practice schedule towards your scratching problem areas so you can continue to speed up your scratch progress.
Is There Such Thing As Too Much?
While I do believe that weekly recording sessions can be extremely helpful, I understand that it might be tough mentally for someone who doesn’t feel they’re progressing at the rate they want. If you are that type of person you might want to dial back the amount of recording you do to a monthly basis. I must caution you though that you’re probably worrying too much about your feelings and not enough about what you can do to ensure that you will increase your rate of improvement at scratching. The beauty of recording often is the pressure that comes with it melts away. It just becomes a natural and essential part of what you do.
It’s Not Just About Mistakes
Not everything that you want to fix will be a technical issue. You may be doing plenty of things that are technically correct, but don’t necessarily sound good to you. This is an excellent opportunity for you to note what you like and don’t like about your scratch style and begin crafting a style that is much more pleasing to you. This is where your personality starts to shine through a lot more because you’re making personal choices about how you want to ultimately sound when you scratch.
Excuses Will Not Get You Far
Nowadays the cost to record is dirt cheap. Granted it won’t be the ultimate in high definition recording if you go low budget, but that’s irrelevant. You just need a clear enough picture and sound so you can catch all the details of what you’ve captured. Many of you already have a device that captures video like a webcam or cell phone, so even if you plan to get a nice camcorder later on you can still get started today.
Our good friend Dj Nu-Mark does a monthly video showcase in honor of the characters of Horoscope.
This episode of Zodiac tracks pays homage to: Pharoahe Monch, Scarface, Lou Donaldson, Diddy, Prodigy, Mobb Deep, Alchemist, Buckshot, Madlib, Oh No, EVE, Warren G, Monica, JRocc of The Beat Junkies, Bootie Brown of The Pharcyde, Phife Dawg and Minnie Riperton. The FB video will be up for a limited time so please share with the ones that count!
Click on the link to watch video: https://www.facebook.com/djnumark/videos/10154770967534390/
There are so many things to learn in scratching. Even if you're not new to turntablism you can still find yourself feeling overwhelmed. This becomes truer as you start to realize that there really is no end to what can be done on the turntable.
Unfortunately many people don't do anything to address their feelings of overwhelm. They simply keep focusing on more new things. While there is nothing really wrong with learning new things, it is only one piece of the puzzle. The biggest reason why feelings of overwhelm start to rush over you and take hold is because you're not giving yourself enough time to get comfortable with scratches you already know.
Imagine you're at a party filled with hundreds of people. Do you think you will make any worthwhile connection with anyone if you're approach is to say hello to each and every one of them? Obviously you wouldn't, but you would increase your chances tremendously if you limited your time to only a small handful of them. Of course you can increase your social circle further over time, but it's always going to be more valuable to invest time developing friendships than to know tons of people without really knowing them.
Mining for Gold
Approaching scratching from a similar viewpoint is crucial if you ever want to get any true value out of anything you know. This isn't a game to see who knows the most scratches. It's about scratching as expressively as possible with what you know. This will always ring true whether it's something you've been doing for years or something you just picked up the other day.
The Ins and Outs of Refinement
When refining your scratching there are multiple things to keep in mind, but the most important thing is thinking about what your biggest problem is with the particular aspect of scratching you're working on. Sometimes this can be clear as day and other times it will not be so obvious. Two things you can focus on that will make this task easier are to decide what you ultimately want the thing you're working on to sound like and what you're doing that's preventing you from achieving your desired result. As mentioned this will not always be easy, but by investing time to figure it out you increase your odds greatly to getting the issue resolved.
Once you have gotten past it you will want to look at what the next biggest issue is and repeat the process outlined above. Once you get that achieved you will continue tackling the next biggest issue until you have arrived at mastering that aspect of your scratching.
Don't Lose Yourself!
I must warn you that I am not saying to take this approach with just one challenge within your scratching at the expense of everything else you know or new things you want to learn. Doing so would be just as detrimental as doing nothing but learning new things. There has to be a balance, so I recommend singling out a handful of what you know and refining those things. You can have different priorities on a daily basis.
On day one you could try focusing on refining just a few things. On day two you could focus on a few others and so on. You could even have a day reserved solely for working on new things as well, but I would recommend you make that about 20% maximum of your weekly practice time.
Figuring out, understanding and staying on top of your priorities is the best way to ensure that you get the most out of scratching with the least amount of effort. Otherwise you will fall into the trap of spending many hours, weeks, months and even years focusing on the wrong things and improving at a much slower rate than anyone would ever care to progress at. I really doubt you want such a poor outcome for yourself so be sure to stay aware of the actions you're taking.
When Nothing Seems to Work
You may find yourself getting stuck on something because you are either unable to discover what is wrong or you are really unsure about how to get past what is holding you back. In situations like this the most effective thing you can do is seek outside advice. A qualified scratch instructor or high quality scratch instructional material authored by such a person is your best choice and will be invaluable in your quest to achieve your goals.
Scratching in a band is not common place. There are many instances of a turntablist performing with other turntablists. However, seeing a turntablist perform with guitarists, bassists, drummers and other types of musicians is a rarity.
While there is nothing necessarily wrong with this, it is unfortunate in the fact that an art form as enjoyable as scratching is getting passed over by many people that would likely welcome it with open arms. The lack of tablists performing with bands stems from the background it sprung from.
Hip-Hop birthed scratching and the bulk of Hip-Hop is based around programmed beats. This eliminated the need for a fully fleshed out band and also brought in a very cool way of performing music that was extremely unique for the time. A lot of great innovation came out of Hip-Hop which has continued to be built upon over the years, not least of which is scratching.
What Breaks Tradition Also Creates It
While Hip-Hop decidedly walked a very different path than other forms of music, it now suffers from the very standards developed to define itself. Like Hip-Hop, turntablism was a significant break from the genre that birthed it, while still maintaining some real roots to the music it came from. In fact I would consider turntablism to be not as disconnected to Hip-Hop as some may think, but rather a dramatic expansion in expressive dj capabilities. Hip-Hop has always been about taking other genres and creating something new out of it and turntablism is really no different. Thus there's no reason to chain tablism to lots of set standards and unnecessary limitations.
What Music Stands To Gain
Looking more in depth at other genres of music, you'll tend to notice at their best, they sound extremely expressive. Yet there's a lack of uniqueness that turntablism so easily captures, simply because genres like jazz and rock aren't nearly as new to the world. Also, in a lot of ways tablism is really an answer to people that don't recognize how truly expressive the turntable is as an instrument.
Turntablists have taken huge strides over the last decade and a half in developing a scratch vocabulary that easily puts them on close to, if not equal footing as other musicians. That being the case it seems only natural to take the next step and join forces with non scratch musicians, continuing to expand our expressive options within music. This is especially beneficial to our development considering the fact that most live instrumentation encompasses much more variety than a typical 4/4 Hip-Hop beat.
They Don't Understand
One issue that crops up when gaining exposure for turntablism, is it tends to be tough to comprehend for people that don't practice the art form. In its most hardcore style, scratching is very percussive and somewhat dissonant since there really isn't a way to generate exact notes within any particular scale. In a lot of ways you could relate it best to rap which also significantly lacks melodic content. However, the beauty of scratching is you're not limited to scratching in such an in your face style.
You can take any melodic sounding record and chop it up in a variety of ways while still retaining the melodic content of such a record. In a band context this means you'd have to be ultra vigilant that the sounds you use are generally in tune with the rest of the band. This doesn't mean that tablists seeking to play in a band should abandon much of the complex scratch vocabulary that exists. In fact possessing a high level of technical aptitude in scratching makes melodic style scratching much easier to facilitate. It also allows you to break up the more melodic style with hardcore cuts should it sound appropriate to do so based on the music your band is performing.
Reaching Ears and Opening Minds
Scratching isn't necessarily a hard pill to swallow for people. It has more to do with how it's presented. Scratching in a more melodic style within a band as described above, is a very effective way to introduce people to turntablism. Seated among music that people already enjoy, scratching can really spice things up in a nice and ear friendly way.
Examples and Ways to Get Started
While it is rare for turntablists to be in a band, it is not unheard of. Some examples of songs or bands featuring scratching that you should check out include: Herbie Hancock 'Rockit' (featuring scratching from DST), Praxis (featuring scratching from TurntablistDisk), Gunkhole (featuring scratching from D-Styles, Ricci Rucker and Mike Boo. The best example being their DVD 'Live In Bologna' which involves a drummer, standup bass player, as well as a sax and flute player) and Secret Sidewalk (featuring scratching from Mike Boo). I have also played in a band and a quick segment of one or our performances can be found here: Live at 19 Broadway
Joining a band isn't as intimidating as it may seem and can be as simple as linking up with even one musician that's not a tablist. Simply place an ad on craigslist or network on sites like twitter and facebook and go from there. Just remember, the goal is making music that's enjoyable regardless of being in a band or otherwise, so have fun scratching and soak in everything that will come your way as a result.
When working to achieve your goals it is very common to think only of your goals as the mark of achievement. While there is some truth to this, if you only think in this manner, it will be very difficult for you to continue moving forward with your scratching. Particularly, if the goals you're working to attain are extremely challenging. The reality is there are many steps of achievement within each and every goal you will ever take on and it is vital to acknowledge and appreciate when you've accomplished them.
When you don't appreciate each moment of progress you experience, your mind tends to focus on only one thing. That thing is frustration and if that's all you're focused on, you will bury yourself in it. Staying motivated in a blanket of frustration is next to impossible. The natural result of this type of negative mindset when scratching is you'll start to believe you can't actually achieve your goal. The more you believe you can't do something, the more it will become true because your mind believes what you tell it. Once you fall that far into disbelief, it'll only be that much more frustrating to withstand the challenges of your goals and like most, you'll probably give up.
Open Your Eyes and See What's There
Admittedly, it isn't always easy to keep track of all your accomplishments, especially if they aren't blatantly obvious. However, it can be done much easier than you may realize. Imagine, you were on a weight loss program and you had a goal to lose 100 pounds. Obviously, losing 100 pounds is not an easy task and if you truly need to lose that much weight, it'll take awhile before you start visually noticing actual weight loss. If you didn't have a scale, you would probably assume within the first few weeks that all your efforts towards your goal are ineffective so why bother. Clearly, that is a foolish way to go about things though and using a tool as simple as a scale to keep track of your progress is extremely common and effective.
Use the Right Tool for the Job
In scratching, progress is more measurable in some areas than others. However, all of your progress can be kept track of with recording. For example, if your goal is to scratch at a very fast speed, you can record yourself scratching over a beat and incrementally increase the speed of that beat until you reach the speed you desire. All the while listening to your recordings to hear how close you are coming to scratching at the level you're aiming for.
When working on something like improvisation, it can be harder to measure in such a clear cut manner as speed, but definitely something that can be put under the microscope. Simply record your freestyle sessions on a regular basis and compare older recordings with current recordings, while thinking of all the areas of your improvisational abilities you wish to improve. The more you listen thoughtfully, the more you should be able to hear how you're advancing in those areas.
When Regression Occurs
Truthfully, not every recording you make will be packed full of progression. You may experience moments of making mistakes you thought you had gotten past already. While on the surface this may seem like a bad thing, it's actually good because now you're aware that some of your practicing methods may not be as effective as you previously thought. This affords you the opportunity to seek out better ways of working to achieve your goals and begin getting much better results. While you may not know what those methods are, there is someone out there that does. I have worked with people such as you and helped them to achieve their goals much faster than they would have otherwise with fully effective and efficient practice regimens. If you feel you're not getting big enough results from your efforts check out my Scratch DJ Lessons.
Take Pride in Yourself
While keeping track of your progress is important, it's only a means to an end. Ultimately, when becoming aware of all of your improvement, you need to take time to actually enjoy the fact that YES, you are definitely moving forward. When you do so you will be happier, have more fun, feel like everything is not as hard as it may have seemed previously and thus continually stay motivated to bust through the obstacles that stand between you and your goals!
Members from the legendary Beat Junkie Crew (DJ Babu, DJ Rhetmattic and Mr. Choc.) talk with DJ Trexxx aka Yung Dean about the future of turntablism and how the internet generation has affected DJ’s. Dash Radio Exclusive. You can listen to the Beat Junkies’ station, “Beat Junkie Radio” on the Dash Radio app. www.dashradio.com
Scratching at its best can be very soulful and funky. Why is it then that so many people under use the techniques necessary to create that funk? I’m sure all of you are very familiar with James Brown. Undoubtedly he has influenced generations of musicians. More importantly though, he has influenced many singers. While some may argue, I believe his strongest influence lies in the grunts, howls and screams he would emit throughout his performances.
Let’s take a closer look at his grunting technique. While this is not technically hard to pull off for most singers, it undoubtedly adds a punch and a feeling to the music that wouldn’t be there otherwise. Like any technique, there are countless ways to grunt and thus many possibilities for soulful expression open up should you choose to explore them. Now picture if you will, a James Brown song without the grunts. If you honestly do this, I’m more than willing to bet you noticed part of the life of the song died.
Getting Caught Up in Flashiness Can Consume You
If most of your energy becomes focused on advanced and flashy technique, you’re like James Brown without the grunts. The backbone of your solos immediately diminishes. Obviously, this is something that should be avoided if you want to develop a truly well rounded, soulful way of expressing yourself.
When you focus on the basics of scratching it helps to highlight the more advanced stuff by breaking it up into more easily digested fragments. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating against advanced technique. Advanced technique in scratching is a big part of what makes modern day scratching so amazing and enjoyable. However, the reality is most listeners naturally can’t handle a constant slew of rapidly executed advanced technique. Adding quality, basic technique into the mix more often is like sugar to help make the medicine go down.
Adding Punctuation Makes Your Cuts Pop Out
One of many great ways to use basic technique is as a punctuation mark. After a flurry of flare combos it will usually sound nice to end off with a simple two click transform. This could be seen as a period to your sentence. Alternately, you could end off with a faderless technique, such as a tear. That could be more like an exclamation point.
Some of you may be familiar with my article, ‘If You Don’t Breathe You May Choke’ which focuses primarily on silence as a technique to break up your solos. The concept here is similar, but instead of silence, basic technique is substituted to gain a similar effect on your audience. Check out that article for more information here: ‘If You Don’t Breathe You May Choke’
Shredding is Not a Bad Thing
As previously stated, I’m not advocating against advanced technique. Scratching at a rapid pace has a killer sound all its own and has an amazing impact on anyone who really loves scratching. If you’re in the midst of a run consisting of some really hardcore flare combos, extending that run before tossing some basics in could really make a huge impact. Likewise, if you were to end the run too early with a basic technique, the wind in your sails would get knocked out. This would make for a wimpy sounding phrase that doesn’t grab the listener nearly as much as you may have intended.
So What Basic Techniques are Worth Focusing On?
The first thing to recognize is that all basic techniques, once highly developed can be considered or lead to advanced technique. This distinction is important, because as scratchers we tend to divide techniques up into basic and advanced categories. While this is helpful it can also be hurtful if you fail to realize that even basic techniques can be highly advanced with the right amount of development.
As stated in the early part of this article, a singer’s grunts can be expressed in a myriad of ways. The same is true with basic technique in scratching. A tear scratch for example has tons of variations to discover and perfect.
All that being said though, here is a list of techniques that I recommend using when implementing the concepts in this article:
Keep in mind this list is actually quite incomplete as there are so many variations of each of these scratches to do. However, for now it’s best that you discover these variations on your own. It is out of the scope of this article to go further in depth. In future articles I will spend more time discussing certain techniques that I believe deserve attention.
Isolation, Then Integration is Key!
Now that you have read this article you may be tempted to jump right in and start combining basic kuts with advanced ones. While I don’t think this is a bad idea, I strongly recommend that you work on your basic scratch technique in isolation. By doing this you give your basics more room to develop into stronger sounding technique with wider variety. The more you work in isolation the more impact you’ll make when integrating it with your advanced techniques.
Some experimentation will be necessary as it’s typical that not all variations you come up with will integrate smoothly into an advanced run. You will have to really listen and pay attention to hear if the basic technique you have chosen truly compliments what you are combining it with. This takes time and is the hallmark of many an outstanding musician.
We all know that the key to improvement is to challenge yourself, but how much are you actually challenging yourself? Are you guilty of being too realistic? What do I mean when I say realistic? Well being realistic in terms of scratching and the challenges you take on, simply means assessing you're current scratch skills and then creating challenges for yourself that don't go too far beyond your comfort zone. While this is actually not a bad strategy for decent gains in skill over the long term, it is not a be all, end all way to approach scratching.
Lack of Comfort Creates Comfort
Sometimes you have to take a challenge that you normally face and double or triple its difficulty. The benefit to this may not be obvious at first. Of course your natural instinct is to feel that if you're already struggling with an easier challenge, why is multiplying its difficulty going to be any easier or less frustrating? It starts in the mind. Your mind is virtually capable of doing anything you set out to do, so if you're always playing it safe, you're just setting your belief system up to think you can only achieve minor things.
Being Unrealistic Pays
When you get more accustomed to thinking unrealistically, what seemed unrealistic before becomes reality. Aside from the mental aspect, you need to become physically used to high levels of physical difficulty. You'll never get a feel for what it's like to scratch at ridiculously high speeds for example, if you never attempt to do so. Sure you could wait until you're truly ready, but you're going to do that anyway. You might as well attempt to now so when the time comes for you to scratch comfortably at such speeds, you're already mentally and physically prepared to do so.
Don't Get Carried Away
I realize that my advice may sound amateurish, but that's only if taken out of context. I am not saying to do what many beginners do and scratch wildly out of your comfort zone regularly. I'm merely pointing out that you should integrate going way beyond your level of comfort into the other scratch skill building strategies you are or should be using to reach the level of scratching you aim to achieve.
There are many times where multiplying the difficulty of what you're working on will not be so helpful. Just as being realistic is not the only way to achieve your goals, neither is being wildly unrealistic. You must find a balance between the two as one feeds the other and vice versa.
Being Unrealistic in the Real World
Here is a challenge to give you a better feel for how you can actually apply this strategy. This exercise has to do with increase of speed, but keep in mind that what I've spoken about thus far is not only limited to challenges dealing with speed.
Put on a 4/4 beat that you can comfortably execute four notes per beat over. A regular challenge would be to increase your speed to five notes per beat. Instead what you will attempt to do instead is scratch eight notes per beat. Don't worry about how comfortable you feel or how clean it sounds. Just push yourself as hard as possible and keep trying even if you don't achieve it by the end of the exercise.
After you complete the exercise, drop back down to the more realistic challenge of five notes per beat and see how much more comfortable and at ease you feel now. When you started the exercise, four notes per beat was your comfort level, but now five notes per beat, whether you can execute it yet or not, will seem like nothing compared to the extreme challenge of doubling what you're currently able to handle.
Mental Barriers Come Tumbling Down
Navigating through such extremes will take the edge off more realistic challenges and you'll begin achieving higher levels of scratching faster. This happens because your mind is your biggest barrier to achieving anything. If you don't believe you can handle something with ease than you won't. It's really that simple.
Unfortunately suspending one's belief is easier said than done, which is why creating physically demanding challenges like the exercise above, will force your mind to accept the truth that lies behind mental barriers in scratching and what it takes to push past them. Seeing is believing rings very true here. Thus, I invite you to get creative by thinking of, then trying many ways of being unrealistic.
Whattup Beat Junkies friends & fam!
It’s been awhile since my last post here, almost four months to be exact… Sadly, I’ve probably got another two or three til we’re back to our regularly scheduled programming of my weekly editorials – but it’s great, because this downtime is definitely giving me a lot of content ideas to get you guys more involved.
For example, by clicking here: You can click here to download 900+ Samples & Sounds in STYLSS Sample Pack – Vol 3 then support them here: Stop Taking Your Life So Seriously
Also before reading further, I suggest pressing play on this – Once you’ve completed that, carry on below 🙂
Anyways, I want to say that I’m really excited to see what new content transpires over the upcoming months as I start to pick up the pen again for you guys (and myself), now with a bit of a different perspective. The reason for my absence was, after having a wonderful Wednesday evening with my friends (Peyote Beats), roommate Mel, then later meeting with (Kosha Dillz) and (Tesha) at the LA staple Low End Theory where you can normally catch some of the best up & coming performers in town as well as some very notable established ones… I was in a near fatal car accident, I had just gotten back from a funeral and looking to clear my head so I figured I’d go to my home away from home (LET) and catch up with Thavius Beck before he moves to Philly & jumps back on tour with Saul Williams. As well as seeing what Scoop Deville’s up to, as I’ve done shows with him back when TLFI and Get Busy Committee were a thing. Low End will always be a special place to me, it’s where I met my ex-gf 5 years ago, it’s also one of the first places I started being semi-regular at since moving here 7 years ago. I’m very privileged to have worked with the residents at various capacities in the past and look forward to doing so furthermore in the future. Individually all of them are talented, and if you haven’t taken time to listen to their catalogs you should ( Daddy Kev, D-Styles, DJ Nobody, Gaslamp Killer, and also Nocando when he was the host, Frank the doorman & big Sam the Soundbwoy (Who’s birthday is actually tonight, and also happening there ).
After Low End, I took us over to Chinatown to drop in at Melody Lounge and connect with some other homies/homegirls such as photographer Hannah Song & J-Bless. There’s so many things to love about this city after dark, our nightlife is definitely a unique and one of a kind (given the proper tour guide, holla 🙂 After the brief meetup, we all headed next door to Full House to have dinner. Normally after doing events at Grandstar Jazz Club, General Lee’s and the surrounding areas, this is definitely one of the better late night spots (bonus: Their corn chowder is always on point and everything’s family style). Anyways – we had our meals, Peyote got an uber back to his car at my place, Mel got her way home, Kosha split, and I dropped off Tesha…
Mission Accomplished. It was a great night overall, I got to hear some great music, surround myself with good company and since I wasn’t DJ’ing, Rapping or running an event myself. We were done at a reasonable hour. So the story continues (and speeds up).. After dropping off Tesha and talking about music for another hour, I was headed home and fell asleep behind the wheel, foot on the pedal accelerating to around 60mph at 3:30am. Resulting in having a head-on collision with an electric pole the size of an oak tree trunk. I woke up unconscious, steering wheel/column pinching me between my seat and the car, crushing my ribs and heart in the process. My right leg was immobilized and I couldn’t move it. I couldn’t see anything in front of me besides the white hood of the vehicle crunched up to the windshield (not knowing who or what I hit). Two kids from outside of the driver’s side window run up saying the police and ambulance are on the way, then proceeding to ask if they can help with anything. I’m in shock at this moment, I wasn’t aware of my surroundings at all or what happened. Little did I know, I fractured my leg and broke several ribs on each side, dislocated and broke my hip and worse of all having a traumatic aortic rupture (carries blood to your heart/brain). They bring out a tool similar to a saw of some sort, cut me out of the vehicle, out of my clothes, put onto a gurney and shoved into the ambulance. They hook me up to oxygen, tell me to hang on, tell me I’m going to be alright. Although, contradicting themselves when they speak on their radio to explain the extent of my injuries (which seemingly are much more severe then they are mentioning to me). Some point within this process I blacked out, woke back up to a police officer shoving a breathalizer in my face and talking shit. He was really on one and swore that I was drunk and he had the perfect catch laying on the plate before him. After a few attempts to gain the lung capacity while my ribs were broken and lungs in pain, I was able to blow into it successfully and get him out of my hair. The asshole was too lazy to write a police report and gave me shit the entire time in the hospital for the breathalizer… At Cedar Sinai they brought me to the ICU/ER and performed a very complicated heart surgery, alongside leg and hip surgeries, in which now I’ve got a metal implant in my hip, leg, and stent in my heart. While the story continues, I’m honestly not even looking to focus on it much further as it’s now something I’m dealing with every day and I’m just blessed and thankful that I’m alive at this point.
So my purpose of this posting was to give some insight as to my current situation – Keep in mind: I’m on month three of recovery/rehabilitation and doing my best to taper off painkillers and do my therapy to be able to walk again )
After the accident, I noticed that there was a very unique trend going on. Since being discharged and on bed rest, I’ve now had over 150 guests visit me and it’s really emphasized to me how much of a valuable role music has played in my life. I want to say 85% of these people were have come into my life through the power of music / nightlife. Whether it was at events that I was producing, attending, places we danced or jammed, poetry slams, mc/beat battles, dj showcases and more. The one constant thread with almost all of these relationships was music.
Between Chicago House, Detroit Techno, years of underground hiphop, and then 2006′ til now catering to the production community by way of instrumental hip-hop and producer showcases. I’ve been able to create bonds worldwide and again the constant was and still is music. ( Now if only people would stop calling this my fucking “Kanye Moment” haha
( for reference: his devastating accident left him to have reconstructive surgery for his face. Kanye was laid up in the hospital for weeks. He had no health insurance, paying for everything out of pocket, as he was on the mend he just followed his passion projects and yeah…)
So this had me asking myself, what does music mean to me? Music has so much to do with so much of what I do, and why I do it. It’s integrated, influenced, enhanced, and dramatically impacted my life in so many areas that I’m finding it even more difficult to describe in further detail . It’s been instrumental in pulling me out of the darkness, and equally beneficial at making the good times that much better and more memorable. Everyone that was with me on the night of my accident, was brought together by music, each individual relationship. I remember when I moved to New York at 18 music is what carried me into the night with a fake ID and into the clubs where my favorite rappers and dj’s were rocking. Music got me onto stages against competitors and built friendships of them. It gave me the courage to explore areas that I wouldn’t otherwise visit if I’d been distracted by the sounds of the night. It gave me perspective coming from Tampa, FL and growing up on your Miami vibes, then southern stuff from my country cousins to the north and west. When I got up to NYC I got Jersey, Philly, Baltimore… When I moved to Texas, I was getting a lot of chopped & screwed, z-ro & trae, devin the dude, paul wall, slim thug. Every trip to Cali it was underground hiphop, gangsta rap & accompanied by the classic west coast sound that you heard all throughout the 90’s and early 2000’s.
Music is a part of us, it’s a reason to live. I feel like a person with good taste in music is equal to someone that smells really, really, REALLY good. it’s necessary. the medicine mending wounds and moods. it’s your second wind, and the shifting of moons. It’s your personal trainer, it makes you strong, it makes you weak, it’s a mode of transportation, the most valuable thing you own, it’s your religion, your second voice, my favorite teacher and class. I think it’s good to get lost in the static and enjoy the distraction while you build and destroy. Music is an accomplice to all of your passion projects. It enhances, amplifies, reflects, shadows, and while you can’t can’t touch it you can feel it, and while you can hear it but can’t see it. It can answer questions and solve problems, create change, it’s a synonym for so many words. My favorite musical supplements nourish and cultivate.
Music speaks what cannot be expressed, the healing attributes, the power, the healing of the soul, body & mind. No matter what you’re going through, whatever escape, adventure, it’s a drug, prescribed, therapeutic, wake you up, put you to sleep, power, feelings, unite, fulfillment, energy creating movement, you can use it to speak without saying a word, it’s my first love, my last love, my soundtrack to life. Whether used to divide or in this case, bring us together. I don’t need to keep going to make this even more redundant, we all understand the many things music is or can be, and with all of the people who’ve been taking care of me since my accident – I can honestly say music has yet again, saved my life.
Anywho, expect some new content in the upcoming months.
If you’re interested in trying your editorial chops and writing for the beat junkies blog,
feel free to email me: Holla@Eric-Spivak.com
Lastly, while I don’t feel like I’m living on borrowed time anymore despite the near fatal car accident. I’ve definitely had some forms of enlightenment that I’ll be expressing via my newsletter and I can’t help but stress and suggest how important it is to be grateful for what you have because you never when it’ll be gone. Treat people with respect and appreciation. After all, you don’t want to be alone in the darkness with nobody at your side when you really need someone the most because you’ve spent your life being a dick to your peers.
Til next time 🙂
thanks for reading.
Broadcasting Live from Los Angeles
Every 2nd & 4th Tuesdays Of The Month
On The Beat Junkie Radio channel
Exclusively on Dash Radio.
Download the Dash Radio App for free or listen to us on the web: www.dashradio.com.
Soundcheck Ep. 36 (8/23/16) with special guest: 9th Wonder
Have you ever tried to learn a simple phrase in a foreign language? Perhaps you were planning on visiting another country and you needed to learn it and most likely other phrases that were critical for communicating things to the locals. In most cases like this, we tend to learn just enough to get by.
Getting by might be acceptable for simple trips, but what if you planned to move there and really immerse yourself in the culture long term? If you really want to be accepted and build strong, high quality relationships with the people there, you'd probably take learning their language much more seriously. Let's take it even further and assume that you want to learn the language to the point where even locals can't tell simply by hearing you that you're not from the area. With a goal like that, there's really no room for error. You'd literally have to talk the talk on a consistent basis.
Of course this may all seem very daunting for someone who hasn't learned a lick of the language yet. However, if you were to focus on simply one word and repeat it incessantly until you get it absolutely picture perfect you'd be hard pressed to ever get it wrong again. If you truly want to master scratching your goal should NOT be to simply get by. It should be to express yourself in the most fluent way possible 100% of the time.
A Big Piece of the Puzzle
This method of isolation that I alluded to in the previous example is a big part of what it will take for you to overcome your challenges in scratching and ultimately perfect your scratch technique. I refer to this method as drilling and if it's not a part of your current practice routine it should be. If you are faced with a challenge in a specific technique, random freestyle scratching and occasionally throwing that technique into your soloing will likely make it take much longer if not impossible to ever get past the problems you're encountering. When you drill a specific technique in isolation you are effectively shutting out all distractions when scratching and allowing yourself the chance to really get to the bottom of what is holding you back from improving.
Taking Things to Further Extremes
In fact it is possible that you may only be struggling at one aspect of a technique. In this kind of situation, you will need to isolate things even further and just drill that one aspect of the technique that is preventing you from performing it correctly. Perhaps things are worse for you and you just aren't grasping the technique at all. The strategy of extreme isolation is still the best way to approach it. Only now there are multiple parts to the technique that need to be broken down into their own specific drills before you'll be ready to put it all back together again and drill the full technique without such severe isolation.
Different Drills for Different Needs
While the above drills work well for techniques you are suffering big problems with, they don't necessarily work for other issues such as phrasing. When phrasing you are stringing together a group of techniques to create something where all the techniques sound like they're really meant to go together. Individually you might seem to have no issue performing any of the techniques you want to use in the phrase, but things tend to fall apart once you begin combining scratch techniques.
There are many reasons why this may be so, like timing, rhythmic feel, and contrast in speed or pitch as well as many other possible challenges. A great way to approach such a problem would be to isolate your phrase to only two techniques at a time. Work hard to see what approach will be best to make the transition from one technique to the next to sound the smoothest. Then once you feel you've achieved something you're pleased with, add an additional technique to the phrase and drill that. Often times it's the transition between one scratch technique to the next that is most difficult so you will likely have to go back to extreme drilling. Only unlike extreme drilling with a single technique, in the context of a phrase you would be drilling the transition only.
While drilling is mostly best for getting past major challenges it can also be used to refine scratching that you aren't necessarily struggling with, but are getting close to mastering. This goes back to just getting by vs. perfecting things. Drilling something that you can do well, but haven't mastered will lead you to mastery much quicker than you would otherwise.
Making the Most of Your Practice Time
Keep in mind that items that you are struggling with most deserve much more practice time and things that only need refinement deserve much less attention. If you put too much effort towards drilling practice items that only need refinement you stand to progress at a very slow rate. No one wants to intentionally slow their rate of progress down so be sure to avoid allocating improper amounts of time to what you practice. While it is not impossible to judge what deserves the most vs. the least attention during practice, it's not necessarily easy either. If you need help designing a practice schedule that fits your needs and the amount of time you have to practice throughout any given week, be sure to visit this link: Scratch DJ Training
Practicing is the most important thing you will ever do as a turntablist. How you practice determines everything you will ever accomplish with scratching. If you practice regularly and effectively you can basically guarantee that you will achieve the results you desire and achieve them at a rate far quicker than someone who is practicing ineffectively. Unfortunately, many do not understand the importance of practice, much less what effective scratch practice entails.
To most, simply putting on a beat and jamming freely over it is what they consider practice. While this is not a complete waste of time, it is certainly not an effective use of practice time and quite frankly is not actual practice. Real practice consists of determining categories of specific items to work on and how much time must be spent on each item in your practice schedule based on your current strengths and weaknesses. If you are not doing this, you are doing yourself a huge disservice.
Avoiding Problems vs. Creating Them
Think back to any conversation where you misinterpreted what the other person was trying to communicate to you. In most cases, that misinterpretation probably led to a problematic outcome. Had you truly understood what they were trying to get across in the first place, you would've had a much better chance of preventing whatever problems resulted from misunderstanding them.
When you confuse jamming with practicing you're essentially doing the same thing. This can be much worse than misunderstanding a simple conversation. Afterall, if you never gain true knowledge of what effective practice actually consists of, you could potentially waste years and years of your life never really achieving many of your scratch goals.
The Flip Side
Keep in mind, there is still a time and place for jamming. In fact, you can have the opposite issue if you get too heavily involved in practicing. While practicing effectively should make up the bulk of your scratching, if you never give yourself time to freely jam over a beat, you're not really giving yourself a chance to flex all the scratching muscles you're developing during practice. Ultimately, scratching is all about expressing yourself and stirring up emotion in your listeners. Thus, it's very important to set aside some time for jamming regularly where you can leave all your concern for the problems you've been working on behind for a bit.
Common Jamming Pitfalls
If you're truly working to progress regularly with an effective scratch practice strategy, it will be tough at times to shut out the inner critic when you're strictly jamming. What I'm advocating is not to avoid critiquing yourself when jamming, but to not be overly critical. Give yourself the freedom to make mistakes when scratching. You can take quick mental notes as you encounter problems, but you don't want to start breaking into practice exercises to fix those issues in the middle of jamming or you'll break the flow of your expression. You can always attack those problems later during your actual practice time.
An even better way to not let your worries drag you down during a jam is to record yourself scratching in audio or video and critique your jam afterwards. This will give you a much better chance to enjoy jamming and also make it easier to determine what the actual issues you're facing are. Often times in the moment of jamming, it is much more difficult to figure out what is being executed correctly or not. With a recording you have the opportunity to hear yourself from an outside perspective, as well as the ability to continually review anything that stands out to you as something to be concerned with.
With True Clarity Comes Great Responsibility
Now that you have a much better picture of what jamming and practicing are, you owe it to yourself to start creating a much more effective practice strategy for yourself. Understandably, this isn't always easy to do. Depending on your experience, you may not really know yet what specific areas deserve your attention during practice. To help get you started, I highly recommend you check out this great resource of practice topics I have written about here: Effective Scratch DJ Practice Strategies
While the topics I've covered should be of great help to you, you'll likely have more indepth issues that are very specific to you as an individual in need of attention. If you feel this is the case, be sure to go to this page and contact me directly with your concerns: Scratch DJ Lessons
The Beat Junkies are proud to present 2 NEW Products for all the Scratch DJ’s out there: The Official Beat Junkies “Scratchers Delight” Looper App and Dj Babu‘s “Mini Duck Breaks” Skipless 45 Vinyl!!
The Scratchers Delight Loopers our first official app for the iOS IPhone/IPad that Scratchers can use. 36 Looped Beats by D-Styles, Dj Babu, Dj Melo-D, J.Rocc & Rhettmatic, with -50/+50 Pitch Control. You can download the app for $1.99 at ITunes.
Our 2nd Skipless 45 is the one & only Dj Babu‘s Mini Duck Breaks Skipless 7″ Vinyl just dropped today! All the classic locked scratch loops from the legendary Super Duck Breaks series that you come to love. Only for a limited time; get them at www.beatjunkies.com right NOW!
Being in a rut is an all too common problem for many people who scratch. Not surprisingly, this causes tons of frustration for anyone who believes they are in such a rut. Often times this can lead to you losing the joy you experience when scratching, or even worse loss of motivation to scratch at all. Ruts are an all too real problem. Or are they?
Why would you ever doubt the existence of ruts? After all, you’ve likely been hearing about them from every walk of life imaginable for so long, you’d probably feel like a fool to consider that they could just be a fallacy. So when you begin to feel you are suffering from one, it only becomes more real to you.
What if you were to reject popular belief for now in order to consider what is really behind this so called rut of yours? Perhaps you’re experiencing a lack of growth in your scratch skills. You feel like you’ve been at it for awhile and there is no obvious progress taking place. What you have to understand is that, while you may have high expectations of yourself, you’re not necessarily going to see any big advancement over night.
In fact you’ve probably also had the experience of feeling like you were in a rut and suddenly you have a major breakthrough seemingly out of nowhere. How can this be so? Well the truth is you were never in a rut. You were simply going through the process of improvement. You made mistake, after mistake, after mistake, all the while getting closer to hitting the nail on the head. So what happened? You stayed persistent with your scratching until you finally achieved what seemed like such a big struggle before.
Frustration Takes Over
When you have a big challenge on your hands it may seem overwhelming because you are constantly comparing your current skill with that of what you want it to be. As you continue to struggle through, you start accumulating all these experiences of frustration caused by not yet achieving your goal. So much so that a lot of times you’ll fail to realize how much closer you’re actually getting to what you set out to do originally and all your focus gets fixated on your frustration from scratching instead. This type of thinking is really pointless and here we are, right back to believing we’re in a rut.
A Change of Focus Makes a World of Difference
If you look back to the previous perspective you’ll see that part of it was right. Focusing on what you ultimately want to achieve with each goal you set for yourself is important. However, focusing too much on the struggle is clearly taking the life out of something you should be having fun doing. So what you must focus on instead is each little victory you make along the way to your goal.
Now you might be saying to yourself, "What victories? I haven’t succeeded yet." Think of all your mistakes when scratching as a learning experience. Not one to think that you’re just not getting it, you’re not good enough, or any other garbage you’ve been feeding yourself. Take the time to actually think about what’s going wrong and how you can fix it.
It’s so easy to bang away at something without really thinking, but successful people don’t do this. Successful people recognize that taking the time to analyze what’s holding them back is worth doing because they believe, whether they know the answer or not, they will get to the bottom of things. So each time they make a mistake they realize it’s worth celebrating, because now they have another thing they can learn from and this type of mindset will inevitably lead to larger victories.
The Many Faces of Ruts
So now you might be saying to yourself, "Well that’s great, but I’m not having that kind of rut. I’m having a creative block." Or perhaps you have some other issue that you consider to be slowing you down to a screeching halt. You can’t let it get to you though. You have to realize that all of these kinds of feelings you’re experiencing are really just your mind signaling to you that you need to take a step back and truly think about what’s wrong and how you can fix it.
Sulking about it isn’t going to do any good. The brain loves to problem solve and if you just muck about, you’re not allowing it to do what it does best. You may not have the answer now, but if you get used to thinking of ways to resolve your scratch problems, you will resolve them. It’s a healthy habit to develop that WILL yield results.
The First Step is Faith
Faith in yourself. Faith in your goals. Faith in the capacity of the human brain. And why shouldn’t you have this faith? Look around you. There are many who have achieved great feats in scratching. At one time or another, they were no different than you. Cultivate faith and then take action!
Tonight (July 25th) is another installment of Motown On Mondays LA on Sunday at The Short Stop in Los Angeles with residents Dj Expo, Dj Jedi, & Monalisa + special guests: our very own Shortkut. If you love classic Motown music, this is a perfect way to start off your week!
SATURDAY (JULY 23RD) is the 3rd Annual Low End Theory Festival at The Shrine in Los Angeles. This year’s line up is an All-Star Line Up: Ghostface & Raekwon, Invisibl Skratch Piklz, Mixed By Ali, Daedelus, Ras G, Jon Wayne & many more. Plus Low End Theory’s residents: Daddy Kev, Gaslamp Killer, Dj Nobody, & our very own D-Styles. For more info & tickets: www.axs.com
Our very own Shortkut has been selected to be the newest artist for Serato!
Peep out his new DJ Showcase using the new Tropkillaz track “One Time” that he helped produced!
“Seminal turntablist, selector and longstanding central force of DJing ‑ Shortkut has long-surpassed icon status. And so should the only member of not one, but three of the world’s eminent DJ crews: The Invisibl Skratch Picklz, the World Famous Beat Junkies and Triple Threat DJs.
Though his technical skills are legendary, what sets Shortkut apart is his versatility. Growing up in 1980s Bay Area, Shortkut (born Jon Cruz) drew from a rich array of musical influences, in particular the mobile soundsystem culture that was coming to a head at that time in the States. His sets are never dull or predictable, bringing in everything from hip hop, funk and soul to deep house, reggae and dancehall. He keeps both the turntable fanatics happy and the dancefloors heaving. And, as Shortkut understands better than anyone, that’s why the DJ’s there.”
Peep his Serato interview here: https://www.facebook.com/Serato/posts/10153715953333016
Becoming better at scratching can create feelings of inferiority. You may have goals to be extremely fast, have a highly complex flow, or many other things. However, if you're not anywhere near those goals you're likely to feel upset about your ability and start overcompensating as a result. Overcompensation often leads to thinking you're not doing enough. Not moving fast enough, not doing enough intricate movements and so on. Unfortunately, this line of thinking only leads to more frustration with your scratching as you start piling on more problems instead of eliminating them.
Fundamentally Shift Your Thinking
Take a moment to think about how a sculpture is created. When you watch a sculptor work, what are they doing? Are they bringing in extra material and tacking it onto the material they started with, or are they carefully chiseling down what they already have? Clearly the answer is the latter.
How does this relate to scratching you might be thinking? Well, you may not physically have a block of material to carve down, but you do have the ability to create a vision of what you want to ultimately be as a scratch dj. This goes back to goals you already have in mind. You got the first part right by actually having specific goals (and if you don't you really need to). So now it's time to get the second part correct by viewing things in terms of elimination.
Taking Out the Trash
If you're familiar with my writing, you know I'm a big fan of tossing out the unnecessary such as too much tension, movement or negative thinking when scratching. If something isn't working, why would you want to continue doing it, let alone doing it in a more extreme manner? Think of it like a needle in a haystack. In order to find the needle you need to get rid of all the hay that's covering it up or you'll never find it!
Taking speed as an example, you would start with the goal of being ultra fast. You would then look at what great speed in scratching actually is and how people with great speed are achieving it. Next, you would decipher what are you doing that they aren't and eliminate it. Some aspects of what to do will be obvious and some won't. Don't sell yourself short though. With enough thought, patience and action, you will find the solution you seek. For more information on achieving great speed go here: Free Scratch DJ Report
Too Much Time and Too Little Knowledge
You might find that it's taking too long to find and eliminate all the problems you're suffering from. While thinking on your own about how to solve issues can be a great way to develop your problem solving skills for the better, it doesn't mean that you have to do everything alone. It is always smart to seek out a highly knowledgeable scratch mentor who has achieved what you want to achieve and personally learn from them.
Just realize that even though they're successful at doing what you want for yourself, it doesn't necessarily mean that they'll be able to transfer that success to you. You need someone that will have a truly vested interest in your success. They must also remember what it was like to go through all the challenges you're currently facing, how they got through them and distill that information into highly effective problem solving strategies. Otherwise you'll just be increasing your problems instead of decreasing them.
Using This Information on a Macro Level
While it is useful to think in terms of individual techniques and goals, in order to get truly worthwhile results you'll need to apply the process of elimination to much bigger things like relationship, career and health goals. Often times what's holding you back in scratching is something larger than you'd imagine. Let's face it, how can you really be at the pinnacle of success if you're suffering greatly in any of these areas of life? It's all connected, so if you're troubled in one area it will surely affect the others. Don't allow yourself to create more turmoil. Take charge of your success and take charge now!
This last night’s episode (July 10th) of “Adventures In Stereo” radio show. The Funky President J.Rocc along with his “Dynamic Duo” partner Rhettmatic did a special episode in honor of what’s going on this past week…we’re living in crazy times right now. Soundtrack For The Streets! Rest In Peace: Alton Steerling, Anthony Nunez, Dylan Noble, Pedro Villanueve, Philando Castile, & the officers in Dallas, TX. J.Rocc’s radio show is every Sunday from 10p-12a on 90.7FM KPFK in Los Angeles or listen on the internet: www.kpfk.org.
Tonight (July 8th) the Funky President J.Rocc will be at The Nectar Lounge in Downtown Seattle with residents Dj Blueyed Soul & Dj Swervewon. For more info & tickets: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/j-rocc-with-blueyed-soul-dj-swervewon-tickets-25707263116?aff=ebapi
Come start off your weekend at The Nectar Lounge!
Improvisation is a very important part of scratching. Although there are methods for writing scratch solos such as TTM, scratching has a rich history of being primarily improvisation driven (more commonly known amongst turntablists as freestyling). A typical approach to improvisation is to take what you already know how to do and create solos on the spot with your current skill set. While there is nothing wrong with this approach, what happens if you run into a physical limitation because the idea you want to use is beyond your current ability? Typically we might work around such a problem by either avoiding it completely or by working on that idea later in isolation.
If you choose to avoid the idea you are intentionally hampering your creativity and will eventually hit a brick wall should you make avoiding such challenges habitual. If you choose to work on it in isolation you will likely have an easier time integrating it into your improvisation as time goes on. However, if the idea is too challenging, it may take quite awhile before you’ll be able to successfully integrate it and even worse, you may fall back on avoiding it out of frustration.
Good improvisation is like any other skill and will take time and patience to develop. That being said, there is a way to speed up the process and significantly increase your scratching creativity. Imagine you have no physical limitations and can perform any idea that comes to mind. With such ability, your creativity could really soar!
Believe It Or Not, This Is Something You Can Do Right Now!
Let’s take a few steps back and picture that we are an abstract artist and we want to create a very expressive painting. Before we even set foot near a canvas, we’re already thinking of the mood we want to create, what kind of colors we want to use, different kinds of shapes and other abstractions that will make the painting come alive. More importantly, our ideas of what we want to paint are vivid and we can envision it clearly. During this thought process there isn’t a single notion about being unable to create the painting. We are completely absorbed in our own creativity.
This type of approach is something you should be doing regularly when working on improvisation. When you create improvised solos in your mind nothing is off limits. The tempo, note groupings, speed at which everything is executed and every other element is all up for grabs. You can create scratch solos that are not only outside of your own current skill level, but above and beyond anything you’ve ever heard before as well. This is why improvising in your mind is such a powerful tool for your creativity and will allow you to be very self expressive.
There Is A Time And A Place
And that time and place can be literally anywhere at any time! Think about what it takes to actually scratch. First off you have to make time to do so. Secondly you have to be somewhere that a turntable and mixer is set up. I’m sure you can think of plenty of times where you had the desire to scratch, but didn’t have the time or access to gear in order to make it happen. Furthermore, I’m sure there are plenty of times throughout the day where you are doing something that doesn’t require a lot of thought, such as driving to work, taking an elevator, waiting in line at the grocery store or simply trying to sleep.
These are all great times to work on mental improvisation. For one thing it will make those types of activities much more enjoyable. For another, all of the time you spend working on it during these moments of your life adds up pretty quickly. By the time you are back in front of your set up and ready to scratch, you’re really excited and have a whirlwind of ideas to explore.
That Excitement Turns Into Motivation
Not only are you excited about all the possibilities, but you have a much clearer picture of where you want your scratch style to go. This can be extremely motivating when you come across physical barriers in your technique. Now that your creative ideas are stronger in your mind, it won’t be a question of not being able to do what you want, but more a matter of looking forward to when you can. With this type of mind set, patience and persistence becomes virtually unlimited.
Additionally you will have more focus on what to work on and likely won’t waste time on things that don’t fall in line with what you want to express. Once you have obtained this level of focus, you can speed up the learning process of scratching exponentially.
So How Do You Get Started?
If this concept is new to you, it might feel a bit abstract and possibly overwhelming to attempt. A simple remedy to this is to listen to the type of beats you would want to improvise over and mentally solo over them. In this day in age with all the mobile devices that exist, you can do this pretty much anywhere. Of course once this concept of mental improvisation is firmly planted in your mind you should have little need for such a crutch, but it’s a great way to get the ball rolling.
This 4th of July Weekend is Papi’s Pool Party & BBQ at The Line Hotel in Koreatown (Los Angeles). The Beat Junkies along with some special guests will be providing some tunes during the sunshine while you get your tan & swim on. It’s FREE on Sunday (July 3) from 4-7pm & Monday (July 4) from 12-7pm….Come vibe with the Junkies as they will dropping some dope tunes for you to enjoy! Shoutouts to our boy Chef Roy Choi!
Tonight (June 30) is a special The 45 Sessions event. Their special guest, the legendary Dj Prince Paul (Stetsasonic/De La Soul/Gravediggaz/Handsome Boy Modeling School/Dirty Disco Squares) along with residents Dj Platurn, Mr. E, & our very own Shortkut. Hosted by Fran Boogie. All happening at The Uptown in Oakland. For more info & tickets: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/45-sessions-presents-prince-paul-tickets-26000321662 This is event that you do not want to miss!
Tonight (June 24th) is a presentation of Kut Up Fridays at The Rock Steady in Downtown Oakland with our very own Shortkut as the resident DJ along with Le’ Swindle plus special guest Dj Umami. Come start off your weekend for a FREE night of dope music & fresh vibes!
It is an honor to have the legendary LA Hip Hop Radio personality, Mike Nardone return to the airwaves on Beat Junkie Radio. He returns to his roots by debuting his new show called “Essentials” on Beat Junkie Radio. If you’re not familiar with Mike Nardone, he was the first person to start up a college Hip Hop radio show in 1987 at KXLU (Loyola Marymount) in Los Angeles called “We Came From Beyond” as well as having a show on the defunct 92.3 The Beat called “Da Joint” with King Emz. Mike is the West Coast counterpart of the legendary NY Radio Duo, Stretch Armstrong & Bobbito Garcia. This particular audio is from Mike’s 2nd show (June 11th); Our very own Babu & Rhettmatic are Mike’s assistants.
Essentials with Mike Nardone will be airing every 2nd Saturdays of each month from 4:30-6:30pm on Beat Junkie Radio, exclusively on Dash. You can listen to Mike’s show by either downloading the FREE Dash Radio App from ITunes or Google Play or listen on the web: www.dashradio.com.
Practicing is a very important part of our growth as scratch musicians. So why do we find at times that our motivation to do so is very low? In fact, lack of motivation can occur quite often. Especially if you’re unaware of ways to inspire yourself to scratch and stay consistently on the correct track.
Think back to a time when you were extremely unmotivated to practice and thus, didn’t. Do this now. Don’t read another word until you do! Did you do it? If not you MUST or you will not get the full benefit of this article.
If you truly thought of such a time, I’ll bet one thing stood out more than anything else. A feeling of helplessness. You may have had so much in mind that you wished to achieve and yet it felt like nothing in the world was going to get you to practice. Without the right source of motivation, that’s exactly what is going to happen. You won’t practice and the gap between you and your goals gets wider.
Common Sources Of Inspiration
Before we delve further, it’s important for you to know that there are many external sources of inspiration to surround yourself with. These kinds of inspiration include, but are not limited to:
• Music by your favorite artists
• Excellent movies filled with subtle or obvious life lessons
• Great achievements by outstanding sports players
• World changing events like the destruction of the Berlin Wall
Sources of inspiration such as these can be highly motivating and effective during normal moments where motivation to scratch is lacking.
The Well That Keeps On Giving
While the above examples of inspiration are helpful, they will NEVER be strong enough to keep you on constant fire. So what is a source of inspiration that keeps you determined to scratch and tough to knock off course? Believe it or not, that source is YOURSELF. Reread the last sentence. This is so important that not only do you need to reread it, but I’m going to repeat it right now. The source of inspiration that will keep you the MOST determined and tough to knock off course is YOURSELF!
Staying Motivated Is A Choice
That’s right. Despite what some may have you believe, it is completely within your grasp to make this decision. You MUST make this choice though, should you wish to achieve your goals. There is no room for being on the fence in this situation. You must choose to be highly motivated and committed, or being unmotivated and having little commitment will be chosen for you. There truly is no middle ground.
Know Thy Self
Still lacking motivation you say? Still only possessing inklings of aspirations you say? While making the choice to stay consistently motivated is your decision to make, no one said it was going to be an easy choice. Or is it?
You must first take a trip of self discovery. You may have clear set goals. You may have foggy notions of goals. You may have almost no goals at all. When looking at what it is we want to achieve in life, we tend to be in the habit of only looking on the surface.
I can totally relate as I was in a similar position myself for many years. While I had clear goals in mind, I didn’t consciously understand what was behind those goals. Back in 2009 I had the pleasure of experiencing what happened to be a defining moment in my life. This opportunity came way through my membership in the Music Careers Mentoring Program. It was a test designed to determine my strongest desires in life. I invite you to take this test and see for yourself how powerful this will be for you. You can access this test for free here: Take The Test.
The Risk Of Commitment
True commitment to your goals is a risky proposition. At least that’s what many tend to believe. I offer an alternate way to view this so called reality. What’s more risky? Staying in a box where anyone who’s supposedly above you can dominate you and put your dreams indefinitely on hold (ie: being chained to someone else’s expectations of what your life should be)? Or taking control of what’s rightfully yours (ie: true fulfillment of one’s destiny)?
One will lead you to a grave filled with regret while the other will bring you the one key thing that makes life worth living. That key thing is happiness. I honestly believe that in my very core. The reality is the latter is actually the least risky. Both are forms of risk though. No action is riskless. Being frozen in fear only brings pain. Don’t allow yourself to be that person.
All Obstacles Welcome
If you gain nothing else from this article, observe my points about risk. By simply acknowledging this fact of life, you’ve already won more than half the battle. Knowing and understanding risk in its true form will carry you far. When applied during moments where motivation is lacking, you have the potential to immediately blast through obstacles in your scratching and get moving.
Saturday (June 18th) is a double duty for the Junkies….the 2ND event that’s going down is the Container Yard 2 Year Anniversary, of course, at the Container Yard in Downtown LA. Reppin the crew will be Dj Babu, D-Styles, & Melo-D plus opening set by Dj Bella Fiasco. It’s a 21 & over event from 6-11pm. Enjoy some good Food, Arts, & Music at The Container Yard. For more info & tickets, go to www.thecontaineryard.com/shop/tcy2
Saturday (June 18th) is a double duty for the Junkies….the first event that’s going down is the Rhythm & Rhyme Fest at the Belasco Theater in Downtown LA. Our very own Rhettmatic will be joining Earl Sweatshirt, Z-Trip, Brother Ali, Gaslamp Killer, & many more. It’s an 18 & over event, doors open at 9pm. For more info & tickets, go to www.thebelasco.com
Friday (June 17th), our very own Dj Babu will be spinning a set at the Walt Disney Concert Hall special event called “Sleepless”. He will be joining Dj Expo, Exile, Monalisa, Dj Jedi, Inka 1 & many more. It’s happening from 11pm to 3am. Presale tickets are available on the day off starting at 10pm. Don’t miss this nocturnal dance party event!
New music by West Coast Underground Hip Hop legends, Third Sight (Roughneck Jihad, Dj Du-Funk, & our very own D-Styles). They have a new album coming out called “Third Sight IV” and the lead single is called “Trife 1”. With a menacing beat by D-Styles & Sharp Lyrics by Jihad, this is for fans of some of that classic beats & rhymes with an dark edge!
Stones Throw is starting a weekly pool party at The Line Hotel in Los Angeles, Saturdays, 1-6 PM through summer 2016. There’s different DJ’s every week. Come by and find out who (a Beat Junkie is scheduled to be at one of these).
June 4, 11, 25 / July 2, 9, 23, 30 / August 6, 20
This event is free for hotel guests no RSVP necessary. RSVP is required for non-hotel guests. Guests with “Attending” RSVP are guaranteed entry until 2pm. At 2pm guests with “Wait Listed” RSVP are allowed entry that is subject to capacity.
The Line Hotel, 3515 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA, 90010
Tonight (June 11th), join Jace One, our very own Icy Ice, & Dj Scetch at Downtown Saturday Night. They’ll be playing Hip Hop, Reggae, & Dancehall all night long. All happening at the Justice Urban Tavern in Downtown Los Angeles. Make sure to check it out!
We continue with another special edition of our Turntablist DJ series “Watch The Sound”, featuring Bay Area’s KODACVISUALZ representing Born Cinnaz & AsthmaFunk. For more info on KODAC VISUALZ, follow him on IG and Twitter at @kodacvisualz. For all things Beat Junkies, visit us at www.beatjunkies.com
Tonight (June 10th) Stones Throw Records is continuing their 20th Anniversary Celebration Tour with Peanut Butter Wolf, J.Rocc, SamIyam, & Mndsgn. All happening at The Brooklyn Bowl in New York. Definitely don’t sleep on this!
Tonight (June 3rd) & tomorrow (June 4th), the legendary Invisibl Skratch Piklz will be peforming at the X-Games in Austin, Texas. Q-Bert, Mixmaster Mike, D-Styles, & Shortkut will be at the Intel Tent inside the Circuit Of The Americas. Don’t miss this incredible event. For more info: www.thudrumble.com
Ideas are being thought of and expressed all over the world at every second of every hour, all day, every day. One idea shared can lead to a multitude of other ideas, which in turn can lead to many more. At times it can seem like there’s no end to new ideas for better or worse. As a musician this is an exciting proposition. It means if you keep your mind and ears open and continually put effort towards your craft, you’ll never run out of new things to express.
Let’s break this down to something really specific within scratching and that is pattern generation. There are a lot of patterns that exist already within scratching. New patterns are being created all the time. It may be subtle or even obvious, but it’s happening. If it wasn’t, scratching wouldn’t have advanced to the point that it has from its humble beginnings. So then, it’s safe enough to assume that if it’s happening now it will continue for as long as scratching exists.
Pattern generation is a vital part of scratching for a variety of reasons. For starters, it breathes new life into something older that’s becoming stale in the minds of those itching to explore new territory with scratching. It keeps things fresh for the fans that would otherwise get bored of hearing the same thing over and over again. No matter how much someone loves something, the natural order of things is to crave change.
Delving into pattern generation will advance the practitioner by expanding their vocabulary. Thus allowing them to express themselves more deeply and freely. This in turn allows the artform to grow further. Especially when taking into account that it’s not just one person working out new scratch patterns.
No Need For Ruts
It’s important for scratch dj’s to recognize that ruts essentially do not exist. I say essentially because most of us can remember at least a few times where we felt like we were in one. You need not continue to allow so called ruts in your scratching to control our creativity. It’s outside the scope of this article to get into all the strategies of avoiding or getting out of ruts. However, in the case of pattern generation I will discuss ways to keep the spark of creativity going.
Another Way To Skin A Cat
Sometimes you may want to hold back on creating new patterns of scratches. This may seem like a contradiction given that the majority of this article, advocates the benefits of pattern generation. What you need to recognize though is if all you ever do is work on new patterns you will never master the older ones you’ve already learned. You have to place equal importance on getting things down so you can maximize the expressive potential within any one particular pattern.
Let’s focus on a simple example of pattern generation. Take any three scratch techniques that you know. Arrange them in any order. Now ask yourself the following questions:
1.How fast do I want to do each technique?
2.Do I want to do each technique at different speeds or similar speeds?
3.How many times do I want to do each technique before moving on to the next one?
4.What tempo will the beat be that I will execute this pattern over?
5.Will this pattern be a good way to start my solo or end my solo?
Keep in mind this is just one example of how a pattern can be created. As you can already see a lot of thoughts have been raised by carrying out this simple exercise. There are many more questions you can ask yourself within this example and you can also start the exercise off differently. For instance, take only two techniques and feed them into the formula. Or four techniques even. Math is a great way to play with pattern ideas. It really boils down most times to basic addition and subtraction.
Soaking It In
Feeling the impact of a concept like infinity can certainly be overwhelming. We need not be overwhelmed though. If realizing the endless possibilities of what you can create is too intimidating it can have the opposite effect. Remember, putting a self imposed rut on yourself is not the goal. Self expression through scratching is really the goal here.
Just because there are infinite possibilities doesn’t mean you have to now suddenly pressure yourself to come up with whopping loads of patterns all at once. Take it easy and enjoy the ride. By creating new scratch patterns over time you help create a longer lasting love for what you do. Enjoy the ride.
“TBH” is the third single off the collaborative project “A Whole New Cook” by CookBook of L.A. Symphony & Evidence of Dilated Peoples. With Cook is on the vocals and Ev on the production, the project features DJ Babu of Dilated Peoples/Beat Junkies. Watch this dope video directed by Original Knockoff.
“A Whole New Cook” dropped on March 4 and has been on the CMJ Hip Hop chart for 10 weeks, 4 of which it spent at #1. It also went to #1 on Canada’s earshot chart.
This is CookBook’s 3rd release in his CBEP series, where he teams up with 1 producer for each project. 1st one produced by DJ Rhettmatic (Beat Junkies) the 2nd by Blu (Blu & Exile) & of course this 3rd one produced by Evidence.
This Saturday (June 4th) is the Blaze N Glory Music Festival at the San Manuel Amphitheatre in San Bernadino, Ca. An all star line up gracing 2 stages: Nas, Atmosphere, Dilated Peoples, Common Kings, Stephen “Ragga” Marley & many more! For more info & tickets: http://www.ticketmaster.com/Blaze-n-Glory-Festival-tickets/artist/2088165
Tonight (June 2nd) Stones Throw Records is continuing their 20th Anniversary Celebration Tour with Peanut Butter Wolf, J.Rocc, SamIyam, & Mndsgn. All happening at The Empty Bottle in Chicago. Definitely don’t sleep on this!
This Saturday (June 4th) is the another installment of one of LA’s longest running Hip Hop dance party “The Boombox” with residents Dj Inka One, Dj Ben Diggin, & Dj Analog. Their special guests this month is our very own Mr. Choc (Beat Junkies) & Free The Robots. All happening at The Grand Star Jazz Club in Chinatown (Downtown Los Angeles). Definitely don’t sleep on this!
Tonight (June 1st) at the Ghost Bar inside The Palms in Las Vegas, is the official afterparty for the DJ AM Documentary “As I AM”. Featuring DJ sets by our very own DJ Melo-D, Dj Scene, Dj Fashen, Dj Spider, Dj Mighty Mi, Dj 88, Dj Dig Dug & many more. Hosted by Jonathan Schecter. Come thru & celebrate the life & times of the legendary Dj AM. For more info: www.djamdoc.com
The Beat Junkies present:
Broadcasting Live from Los Angeles 7-10PM PST
Every 2nd & 4th Tuesdays Of The Month
On The Beat Junkie Radio channel
Exclusively on Dash Radio.
Download the Dash Radio App for free or listen to us on the web: www.dashradio.com.
Soundcheck Ep. 30 (5/10/16) – Rhettmatic’s Birthday
Soundcheck Ep. 31 (5/24/16) – Beat Junkie Crew Only!
Great thriller movies contain lots of surprising moments, elements of calm and extreme excitement. When you watch a truly good thriller, you are likely on the edge of your seat for a good chunk of the movie. No matter how much you want to believe you won’t get thrown off guard, you always do.
Likewise a bad thriller just comes off cheesy because of the severe predictability of it all. It can potentially become comical because there is virtually no suspense and you have to laugh just to deal with the writer’s lack of imagination. The same can be said for scratching.
Clearly, sounding cheesy and boring are not goals of the vast majority of us. A great way to avoid putting people to sleep is to use a rhythmic technique called rubato. For those unacquainted with the term, the definition of rubato is as follows: The temporary disregarding of strict tempo to allow an expressive quickening or slackening. Or in more simple terms, not playing in strict time.
Rules Are Meant To Be Broken
It is a mistake to think that just because you’re scratching over a steady rhythm that you are chained to scratching steady too. If you lock into a groove and spit out a constant stream of 8th notes, it won’t matter how cool your mixture of scratch techniques or pitches are. People will disregard that because they’ll be fixated with your lack of rhythmic variety.
When you use rubato, each note now has its own personality. It’s similar to being at a party and not knowing who’s going to arrive next. All kinds of different people will show up randomly. Although some may be similar, none will possess exactly the same traits. Furthermore, you’ll have no expectation of who each person will be until they show up.
Don’t Beat Your Audience Over The Head
Being constantly unpredictable can be exhausting. If every moment of your solo was wildly random, you would begin to suffer from the very problem you were trying to avoid in the first place. A calm between storms gives the listener a chance to catch their breath and recuperate. Your job as the soloist is to know when the audience is close to full recuperation and then hit them again. You NEVER want them to completely recover.
When you spend more concentrated effort on rubato you may likely run into another issue. Your rubato could become formulaic. Meaning, every time you decide to break out rubato, you get stuck scratching the same way. What you must recognize with rubato and pretty much everything else, is there are always going to be alternate ways to do things. Thus, it’s important that you continually work out several ways of executing the rubato technique.
Tears, Flares And Tear Flares
There are a variety of scratches that are well suited to rubato. Take a tear scratch for example. You can do a two forward, one back tear scratch all in the same rhythmic division or you could break things up a bit. For example, the first motion of the tear could be one long, sustained note, while the second and third motion could be really rapid sounding.
You could also do a 2 click flare, where the first 2 clicks on the forward stroke of the record are quick, but you let the record
continue moving forward and then slowly pullback the record and click towards the end of the reverse motion. This would make for a highly unpredictable 2 click flare.
You could also take the first example of the tear scratch and add any number of flare combos and timing of the flares to it. Now imagine you combine all three of these examples into a string of phrases. By now it should be clear how entertaining your scratching will become with a large vocabulary of rubato at your disposal.
Outside The Scratch World
Rubato is quite an old concept and yet it is so under used amongst many musicians. The most notorious musician and master of rubato is none other than Chopin. While masterful, instrumental piano work from the Romantic Era is a far cry from modern day turntablism, it would do you a world of good to familiarize yourself with Chopin’s works. See a performance of Opus 28 here: Chopin
24 Preludes Op. 28
I’m sure if you take the time to listen, you will hear plenty of great rubato exhibited. A special thanks goes out to my music mentor Tom
Hess, who has helped me to intellectualize the concept of rubato and recommended Chopin as well. I developed my rubato unconsciously as many musicians have. However, once you become conscious of such things as rubato, your level of development will thrive because you now have clearer focus on what to work towards. Not to mention, motivation because of the value that goes along with it.
So as I’m doing more artist consulting this month, I’ve noticed that a few of these guys and girls are really struggling on trying to get true feedback and readings on their music. Getting that response is extremely important in the direction you may take an incomplete project, or maybe start a new one. People’s first impressions are generally their rawest, then a second listen or look yields different results ( the “sleep on it” and revise the next day, approach ). Regardless of if you want either of these reactions, you first need to have places to get an unsuspecting listen. So below I’ve made a list of a few ways that have worked for me, and others I work with, hopefully they work for you!
Aux Cords – I know it may sound stupid, or maybe even like a no brainer, but if you think about coffee shops, cafes, diners, uber, lyft, house parties, and so many other places that an aux cord can come in handy, if you get creative with you can literally replace the world around you with your own soundtrack (tactfully) — Note: I say please use this one at your discretion, your music may suck and your taste in music could also suck. I wouldn’t want a room full of people to
CD-R’s turned Data Discs – So I go to anywhere from 3 – 8 events per week here in Los Angeles, it’s not as exhausting, expensive or time consuming as you may think. Infact most of it’s paid for but I will say one thing that really gets my friends is when I’ve got 2-3 in the car and I have my mixes on. I constantly get asked “What is this track, my shazam won’t work” and other similar questions as they look at my LED dash that says SPIV_Untitled28. So I started distributing my mixes and music I intended on mixing or playing out at gigs to the friends who’d roll with me. It’s also great economically because these data discs can hold upward to 80mb (which depending on the size of the songs, could be upward to 150 tracks). Also in 2016′ they play in most systems. So at the start and middle of each month I burn about a dozen new cd’s and when I interact with Bartenders, Security Guards, Event Coordinators, or just have friends in the car or make new ones at functions and I can give them my music. Note: I generally also include a prerolled joint and preface them listening to smoking and ask them to give me their thoughts on it after.
USB – Similar to the above, except smaller and easier to get preloaded with music. You can get bulk orders of usbs pretty in expensively these days. They also have a larger capacity. Get innovative with customization aspects and you can really get your music far in these little babies. I give them out like candy on Halloween, and if I don’t get custom designs, I’ll put a small sticker that correlates back to my social media and just leave them at various unique spots around the city. Taped to bathroom stalls to sticky notes, I’ve put them in envelopes that say “Listen To Me!” and gone around parking lots and garages outside of events that have a demographic I’m trying to reach, and dropping them in any window that’s left cracked open or putting them on sideview mirrors. Get Creative. Your distribution techniques should be unorthodox and untraditional. Be unique in your approach and you’ll go far.
Shortcut Links – Long web addresses are hard to type, and remember. Keep it short and simple, using a site like www.bit.ly or other ‘link shorteners’ help people reach your music more easily and faster. You can press these on yellow manila envelopes, but them on USPS stickers, even pull tab signs. The shorter the better. It should either go directly to a download/autoplay link or a place giving people very minimal options of what they can do, and if they like what they see or hear — they should have a way of reaching you.
Digital – Distribution through digital channels is easier than ever with things like Tunecore, Soundcloud, Bandcamp, etc. Me doing guerrilla and viral marketing alongside business development and growth hacking. I choose to again, go a think differently approach. If you have 5,000 friends on facebook, export your friends list, alphabetize it, organize it, and highlight people who’d likely be down to share your product. Whether it’s a campaign, a service, a product, whatever you have, you know who’s down to ride for you, and there may be some people you don’t know who are also down to ride for you. If the quality of what you have to offer is good, people will naturally share it. I’ve done the angle of having multiple people change their profile pictures across 3 networks all at the same time, as well as create a share/RT/RP campaign that was very effective. There’s also a few other tips and tricks to the digital marketing game to explore, but I had to work for this knowledge, and you shall have to as well 🙂 — Think about the avenues of video channels, live streaming, podcasts and more. You’re smart, I believe in you.
Crowdsource Campaigns – Similar to my mentions above in the retweet/share/repost campaigns. Crowdsourcing is a great way to get yourself heard (and get paid). A very strategic and savvy campaign that showcases creativity, authenticity and ingenuity will definitely help get you heard by peers. Not to mention it allows you to generate revenue if the product is good or they believe in you. I think about having 5,000+ friends on facebook, and then my other social networks then my 25,000 person email list and I think. If each of these people were to share 1 hit song or 1 dope clothing article or just something that has the potential to spread — there’s just so many opportunities that can come from that. $5 x 5,000 people = $25,000 | Most people spend more than $5 daily on stupid shit they don’t need. They don’t need your music either. Make your music that stupid shit they spend their $5 on. Except, make it extraordinary and special, and actually worth much more than $5 so it doesn’t feel, look or sound like a stupid purchase.
Stickers – Not just “stickers” but window decals, murals, wheat paste, billboards, skywriting. whatever it takes. Take into consideration how long these things last, and how inexpensive they are. If they are designed well, they garner a lot of attention and can spread like wildfire in photos and videos. Much like several coveted locations in LA that people use for backdrops for their ” look at me, I’m basic” IG photos.: Much like stickers, stencils are also a valid route, but also more risky – Look into Post No Bills and other signage issues to make sure you don’t get in trouble placing stuff where it doesn’t belong or on other people’s property that it will have a negative result or impact on you. I have some stickers that are in nightclubs and bars that have hung on for 10 years and they STILL to this day get me new eyes/ears that occasionally reach out to me to compliment my music.
Business Cards – The less permanent route. So business cards are inexpensive, they don’t have to be used as “business cards” they can be used as promotional cards. Due to the cost vs quantity situation with this, you can easily throw hashtags, websites, catchy quotes or art and literally give these out EVERYWHERE YOU GO. I used to drop them in checkbooks when I was bartending and waiting tables to every single guest of mine, I’d also leave them on the busses and subways, inside friends cars, bathroom mirrors, literally everywhere imaginable. You wouldn’t believe me if I told you the return on investment with these. I do a lot of things in this manner, what is the easiest or least expensive way to make the longest, biggest and best impact. — My only downside to these is environmentally, it’s waste. In general, I am conscious of these things so I do actually use this approach a little less often these days. I suggest making it reusable or plastic like a membership card instead of temporary paper promo.
Brand Alignment – What does your sound invoke? How do people feel when it’s on in the background, or if they’re working out? Is there any feeling in your music? I hope there is. Match the vibe of your style, content, and sound with like-minded people and businesses to get better results. If my music is very uptempo and fast paced like Styles Of Beyond, or maybe some Jungle/Drum&Bass/Breakbeat sounds. I’m probably better off trying to get it to people in the hands of people into active lifestyles, as opposed to couch potatoes or cubicle slaves, who probably prefer something more mellow and downbeat. If you’re loud and flashy, don’t pitch yourself to reserved, closed-minded suits. Find your niche and go for it. I look toward start-ups and publications to offer commissioned original music, production, writing, and songs to, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but it definitely has benefits once placed to get you heard.
Collaborations – This is how you bridge an audience. Got a singer/songerwriter who’s really dope? get her acapellas remixed by a producer that’s equally matched and let them play with each others sounds to create something new and fresh. Collaboration over competition any day, every day. I’ve teamed up with Skating, Fixie/BMX brands, Shoe Companies, Clothing Lines, and much more in regards to creating collabs that extend beyond music. Once you get the hang of pitching yourself and your brand/product/service you really gain perspective on how businesses operate, who their markets are, and you can come up with ways of intertwining yourself with them in a mutually beneficial manner that allows you to reach their crowd and vice verse.
That’s it for today’s lessons, I hope you gained something from this and continue to create new and unique ways of getting yourself out there. Feel free to leave a comment below or drop me a line at any of the places below 🙂 If you need help with marketing, promotions, pr, design, etc. I can also help with that. Please repost this article as it doesn’t just pertain to music and have a wonderful day full of good music and vibes~
Everyone by now should be familiar with the talented soul singer, the man called Aloe Blacc. Unless you are not into Underground Independent Hip Hop or didn’t grow up in the Southern California Music Scene during the 90’s, you might not know that Aloe Blacc is also an incredible Emcee and is part of a group called “Emanon” with producer extraordinaire, Exile.
What a lot of people may not also know that Aloe & myself recorded a whole album together back in 2004. “2004?!”….yup, 13 years ago….can you believe that?? This is around the time when Aloe was attending USC & I was living in Long Beach and was still working at Fat Beats LA. You’re probably also asking the question “Why is there an image of a Quarter on the front cover?”. I’m glad you asked that….Aloe suggested we do something like this: “Maybe an image that depicts something about 2004, like a pair of shoes that came out that year or a big news item. In 2004, I turned 25, maybe an image of a 1979 quarter”….hence, the reason why we have a Quarter on the album cover.
How this project came about is basically, both Aloe & myself were at some type of crossroad in terms of what we wanted to do as artists, individually. Aloe was taking a break from Emanon in terms of exploring, recording solo projects & working with different artists….Exile was in the process of becoming the producer he is known today by working on his own solo projects as well as crafting an album with a young, talented MC by the name of “Blu”. As for me, I was also trying to expand my horizons as a producer. Everyone knows me mostly for being a DJ/Turntablist from the Beat Junkies & the only production work that I did that people are aware of is with the Visionaries. I wanted to branch out & work with different artists as well to see what else I can do that I can’t normally do with my own group. I was luckily enough to have Aloe open to the idea in working with me. Around this time period, I was solely using the Akai MPC2000 for my main production equipment, & made a few beats on EMU SP1200 Drum Machine Sampler (Listen to the album & guess which machine I used). We recorded 14 songs but had really 11 strong songs. I just remember listening to our project & saying “Wow…Aloe is incredible!”. The plan was to shop the project but it never got a chance to materialized because we both went on to other things: Aloe got signed as solo artist on Stones Throw & I went to work on the 4th Visionaries’ album “We Are The Ones”.
On a side note, the song “Find A Way” was made originally for this project, that later became the B-Side single to Aloe’s “I’m Beautiful” off his Stones Throw solo debut album “Shine Through”. I had no idea that Aloe can sing and was really good. When I heard this song, I knew Aloe was destined to do bigger things. And this song also led to Aloe working with my good friend, the incredible DJ Khalil of Self Scientific and future Grammy Award Winning Producer. I played “Find A Way” for Khalil and the first thing he said to me was “Who is this person, I got to work with him”. When he found out who it was, & he was shocked. Many years later, they crafted together the successful hit song “I’m The Man”, which were backdrops for a series of Beats By Dre commercials as well for the 2014 NFL Draft & 2014 MLB All Star Game ads.
Fast forward to 2016….I had a chance to revisit the album and I totally forgot that Aloe & myself recorded a whole project that was made 13 years ago. I reached out to Aloe to remind him about our project. Even as busy as Aloe is now, he took the time to listen back to the album & said it would be dope if people could here our progression. He suggested that we release this album as a FREE project & gave me the idea concept of the album title & cover artwork. I am very lucky that Aloe gave me his blessing to release this project that you are about to listen now. We hope you enjoy this time capsule & this little nostalgia from our musical past. And the saying goes…the rest is history.
To everyone that’s taking the time to listen to this piece of history, as well as those who’ve been supporting me & musical endeavors from the get go, thank you very much. To my man wiz1der for helping me with the mixdowns. To my man FWMJ of RappersIKnow for the artwork. And to my brother Aloe….thank you for always being a friend & a musical comrade. Everything you’ve worked hard for, you deserved!
Rest In Peace: Nestor Nirza, Jordan Cofinco, J Dilla, Roc Raida, James Brown, Dj Dusk, Rob One, Sean Price, Pumpkinhead, Michael Jackson, David Bowie, Maurice White, Phife Dawg, Billy Paul, Prince, & Afeni Shakur.
A big special shout out to my fellow Visionaries brother 2Mex! Speedy recovery Alex…you got this! #GetWellSoon2Mex
In scratching there are so many cool and not so cool styles out there. Some are trendy, and although you may not personally enjoy them, it seems as if many are doing everything possible to keep such styles thriving. Like most trends in the world, you'll also likely find that many are following them despite their own personal opinion of it all. On the opposite side of the spectrum you'll have others discounting trends simply because they are trends. What both camps are forgetting, or perhaps not aware of at all, is that in order to truly express yourself with scratching you need to follow what your tastes naturally embrace whether it's trendy or not.
Time Can be Your Worst Enemy
If something doesn't grab you, there's absolutely no reason to force it. Even if it seems like you're the only one that doesn't like it, you must have the courage to stand alone and let it pass you by. Time is precious. If you're spending time learning things you don't like in addition to the things you do, imagine how much more time consuming achieving a high level of it all will be.
The saddest part is eventually you will likely start dropping things anyway, whether it's the good or the bad stuff, simply due to overwhelm. When this happens you could end up losing some of the better parts of your style to make way for things that don't even really fit you well. Now you're even further away from your ideal sound and you will NEVER get all the time you spent back. Not only that, but you also have to work even harder now to rediscover all the things you do like, as well as having to break the habit of scratching in ways you dislike.
So How do You Decipher What's Not Worth Your Effort?
In scratching you have many elements to consider. Technique, genre, tempo, samples used and techniques and styles associated with those samples, as well as many other aspects worth considering. For example, if you don't like Electro or some other genre, don't spend time learning to scratch over it. Yes many have done and continue to do it. Yes many will argue that it's one of the best ways to learn how to scratch fast because of the typically high tempos that electro is known for. However, if you don't like electro than you don't like electro and nothing you do will ever sound convincing over it. Just like if you get zero enjoyment out of listening to Polka music. Why would you spend any amount of time trying to express yourself as a Polka artist?
Tailor Your Development
With all the clutter out of the way you now have way more room to delve deep into the styles you do enjoy. You are a unique individual with your own set of fingerprints and your own combination of life experiences. You will also likely not only enjoy one style of scratching. Thus basing your style on a combination of others will lead to a voice unique to you. Of course there are other aspects that lead to true self expression, but this is a big part of it.
Be Aware of an Untrained Ear
It's important to understand that the less exposure you have to scratching, the less you will be able to decipher various styles and what really stands out for you as one you enjoy. Don't fret though because listening to your gut when glaring dislikes come your way will save you a ton of time. As you continue to develop your ear for scratching, you can keep refining the direction you want to head in and more easily pick apart the undesirable from the desirable.
Some Doors Must Stay Open Before They Close
Like everything, there are exceptions to the rule. There may be certain styles that are less than desirable to you, yet contain some potential towards the sound you actually want to craft for yourself. You have to really take a look under the hood and think if it's really worth your time to work on it. If so, be sure to not put more focus than necessary on it and have a goal in mind of bending it toward your own way of doing things so that it makes more sense to your overall style and what you enjoy hearing.
Some Final Words on Uniqueness
Uniqueness does not mean being unique for uniqueness' sake. It simply means finding yourself and highlighting it. As mentioned, your total life experiences do not equal out to anyone else's. It's literally impossible, so you will already naturally sound unique when scratching. All you're really trying to do is go beyond what's natural and be much bolder when expressing yourself. When you're true to yourself the joy is unparalleled, so stop wasting time travelling someone else's journey and take pride in your own.
Tonight (April 24th) is another episode of Adventures In Stereo, hosted by J.Rocc on KPFK 90.7FM. Tonight’s episode is a special tribute to the late great Prince, simply titled “Thank You Prince”. The Funky President is the biggest Prince fan so it’s only right he does a special tribute, his way.
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This past Thursday, April 21st, the world lost an icon, a legend, a great musician, a social activist….the man known as Prince. Prince Rogers Nelson is someone that the Junkies grew up listening to his music & was totally influenced by his style of Funk & Soul. And everyone knows that our very own Funky President, J.Rocc is the biggest Prince fan.
Music Tastemaker & KCRW’s DJ/Personality Garth Trinidad hosted a special tribute to Prince.
In customary fashion, Garth invited friend and president of the World Famous Beat Junkies, J.Rocc, to share an exclusive, spontaneous tribute mix in honor of his purple majesty. Hits, b-sides, rarities, mash-ups, and live out takes color a seamless celebration of the life, legacy, and music of Prince Rogers Nelson.
Rest In Peace Prince….we love you!
Listen to tribute here: http://kcrw.co/1QsWvbZ
Friday, April 29th….The Beat Junkies are doing a special one off party in Downtown LA called “Live & Direct”. Babu, D-Styles, J.Rocc, Melo-D, & Rhettmatic will be throwin down on the decks plus some special guests might come thru. All happening at The Well. Doors from 10pm-2am. Donations $10. Los Angeles, come thru & get down with the Beat Junkie Sound!