Sunday, 4 November 2007

The Oxford English Dictionary … of ROCK Part 2: turntablism

turntablism, n. [added September 2007]

The action or practice of performing as a turntablist. Cf. TURNTABLIST n.

1996 Xmen vs ISP in alt.rap (Usenet newsgroup) 2 July, I know that both crews have mad respect for each other and I think battles like these keep pushing the art of turntablism into the future. 1999 Muzik Nov. 165/1 Anyone who says vinyl is dead now obviously has their head stuck up their arse... You only have to look around and see the amount of turntablism going on at this show. 2004 M. M. LEWIS Scars of Soul II. vi. 81 The beats from DJ Kayslay resuming his expert turntablism soon reverberate through the hall.

Better late than never – I was pioneering this ‘ish with my ma’s 7” Elvis singles in the early 80s. Apparently Kool Herc was doing the same thing a decade earlier, and Jimmy Savile thirty years before that. In 1998 I witnessed what I guess was turntablism in its highest form – the Invisibl Skratch Picklz supporting the Beastie Boys in Brixton. After a while it all sounded like birdsong, not that there’s much wrong with birdsong, but it wasn’t much to look at either.

I’m liking several things about the OED’s definition: the inclusion of the phrase “mad respect”, the attention to detail of mining an old-skool interweb discussion group, and the quality of writing on offer in Muzik magazine. But most of all I like the fact that shouty, beef-encouraging, pork-discouraging New York mixtape regular and “drama king” DJ Kayslay turns up. Here he comes now:

I was previously unaware that Kayslay, who is clearly excellent at fake reality shows and standing near Papoose, actually has skills as a turntablist. Initially, I assumed this was a clunky bit of authorial laziness, like when Funkmaster Flex and the ‘Aphex Twins’ make unconvincing cameos in Bret Easton Ellis’ Glamorama. But Bronx native Miles Marshall Lewis (who recently wrote on the making of Sly Stone’s There’s a Riot Goin’ On for the 33 1/3 series), has hip-hop credentials. Well, he has a good blog.

Famous types only get into the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography once they’ve died, so we’ll have to make do with the wikipedia bio, which provides useful insights such as “Kayslay knew the meaning of gangster at a young age” and “Upon his return to the streets, Kayslay began living a new, drug-free life that was a real hustle.”

Anyway, here’s Kayslay’s incomprehensible fake reality show, plus some turntablist fun

Grandmaster Flash – ‘The Adventures Of Grandmaster Flash On The Wheels Of Steel’

Statik Selektah – ‘No Mistakes Allowed (feat. Doug E. Fresh, Tony Touch, Scram Jones, DP-One, DJ GI-JOE, DJ Revolution, Esoteric)’ (from Spell My Name Right)

Those “adorable” turntablist kids!

And finally, RZA, possibly under some influence or other, claiming he tried to patent a digital turntablism gizmo that he discovered “at the end of a rainbow”. See if you can keep up:


Miles Marshall Lewis said...

thanks for checkin the blog, mister hat. i see we both dig on kayslay! remember him as just a skinny kid in 'style wars'?

Ass Hat said...

thanks for the shout, miles - and for newcomers like myself, here's 'style wars' in its entirety: - highly recommended super duty tough work indeed.