Dear DJs. From Rob Swift.

Dear DJs:

I’m sure many of you have noticed the majority of my posts lately have been aimed at you young DJs out there. I encounter a lot of you at Scratch DJ Academy where I teach. I interact with the rest here on Facebook, Twitter and my website. The reason I’ve been so focused on reaching you all is because you and I share a common affinity for Turntablism. Whether it’s scratching, beat juggling or body tricks (the latter applies only to the few body trick tablists that still exist, LOL). Seriously though, we all love this art form and so every now and then I like to throw gems at y’all. By no means is the information I disseminate in these posts meant as lecturing or scolding. On the contrary, my intentions are to inspire. If you don’t find it useful, by all means stop reading and go on with your daily activities.

Recently, my boy Lazy Eyez booked me to judge this year’s DMC Battle in Denver, CO on March 23rd. I’m really looking forward to seeing what new creative stuff y’all young midwest DJs will be showcasing that night. To all the competitors, I’d like for y’all to consider this…

When you perform you do not display your skills all the time, in exactly the same way, from moment to moment. It is an impossibility. It is even a lie to pretend to. Yet, this is what you demand from yourself every time you touch the turntables. For example, many of you practice scratches with the intent of mastering the scratch opposed to mastering yourselves. As a result, the ebb and flow of performing is lost. What’s left isn’t a human being expressing themselves. No, instead what remains is a robot, mechanically performing the task of scratching, beat juggling, etc., to please a bunch of judges behind you or an audience in front of you. There’s something to be said for Fluidity though my friends. Fluidity is what separates natural from synthetic, style less from stylized, true from false.

If you’re unsure about what I’m trying to say, if you don’t understand… watch the video below of my mentor Dr. Butcher. It was recorded in November of 1991, 21 1/2 years ago. That’s before “Boomerang”, and “3 Click flare” scratches existed. And you know what? The skills you see displayed in this video have stood the test of time. I get as much enjoyment watching it in 2013 as I did in 1991 because Andrew Venable was expressing himself honestly. He wasn’t performing for me or for you. He was performing for himself. When you watch him scratch, he’s not concerned with the names of the scratches he’s doing. You can see it in the fluidity of his movements. Mistakes or not, his ultimate goal was to express himself through the music playing on the turntables. Do that and 20 years from now someone will be watching you on a DMC DVD (if they still have DVDs in 2033) and get the same enjoyment I will watching you tear on March 23rd. Good luck to all of this year’s DMC competitors.

From DJ Rob Swift

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