DMC World DJ Championships
I had the good fortune of going to the DMC's a few times whilst I worked for one of the key sponsors of the competition in the UK between '99 and '04, so generally speaking I know all about the championships, but some of you wont. Some of you wont even be interested, but that's cool, I'm gonna give you a little lesson anyway.
Firstly, DMC stands for Disco Mixing Club. The DMC World DJ Championships are an annual event where by the worlds top scratch DJs compete against each other, each taking their turn to showcase their skills for three to six minutes (depending on the round they reach), using two turntables and a mixer. A panel of judges score each DJ by reviewing skills such as; scratch techinque, variance in skills, originality, and general composition of their set. There are seperate competitions for individuals and teams – the teams are made up of four DJs.
DMC had an ethos that was to show the world, the average joe, that DJing was an artform and should be recognised as the skillful practice that it was; turntablism. So, supported by Technics, DMC put on their first championships in 1986 and the eventual winner was America's DJ Cheese. Since then the championships have been held once a year without fail and this years competition is the 21st. Each country hosts it's own heats and national finals, then the winners from each country go to the world finals. Over the years the world finals have been held in such locations as; The Albert Hall, Wembley, Ministry of Sound, the Peter Pan club in Riccione, Brixton Academy and the Hammersmith Apollo.
Personally I believe that to truly appreciate what these competitors do, you have to have some form of base knowledge. You need to know how the DJs create the sounds they do, what it actually takes. Of course if you just like the sound of it, that's fair enough, but a lot of people just call it noise or state that it isn't skillfull at all. I've been at the Hammersmith Apollo and watched as thousands of people cheer when a famous TV theme tune gets dropped, but the judges don't necessarily care about that – they care about the skills.
The main skill on show is the scratch; the ability to move a record backwards and forwards whilst moving the cross fader of the mixer – all the while creating a sound that is in keeping with the rhythm of the music. But beyond that there are hundreds of different ways to scratch a record, and also there are other tricks like beat juggling; the ability to use two copies of a record, whilst using the faders on a mixer in time with the movement of the records, to result in a new beat or arrangement – in short a new creation using existing music… live. Might sound complicated, well it is a bit! But these guys practice their respective sets for a year solid leading up to the competition. Practice, practice, practice.
Obviously you'll only be able to hear what's happening, but here is an example of a set. It's DJ A-Trak's (youngest ever winner) world finals set from 1997. If you want to actually see what's going on, then check out the DMC website's video section.
A-Track – 1997 World DMC Set
>> download <<
This download is a sample of the music only and must be deleted from your computer within 24 hours of downloading. This download link will expire on 19th June.
Watching back the videos of past competitions is cool cos you get to see what the DJs hands are doing, hence get to see all the technical bits, but you don't get the same atmosphere as when you are actually there in person. If you have an interest in hip-hop, turntablism, or just wanna see what's going on for yourself, I'd really recommend trying to go along to one of the competitions – even if it's just a local heat or national final. One of the best events I went to was the London heat in '99. It was held at the Subterranea club in Ladbroke Grove, London. Must have just a couple of hundred people in the club, but it was a much more intimate event than the world finals, the DJs played on a raised stage and the spectators stood nodding their heads right in front of them on the dancefloor. At the Hammersmith Apollo, for the final, it's all seating up the top and then some standing right at the front down below.
Some of the past competitors might be names that you recognise; DJ Craze, Q-Bert, Mixmaster Mike, Kentaro, Plus One, Scratch Perverts. Each of these guys has amazing turntablist skills, but they've dedicated years and years to perfecting the artform. Essentially all you need is; two turntables, a mixer, and a stack of records. But to truly master turntablism you need to spend masses of time cultivating your skills.
This years world finals are taking place 10th and 11th September at Hammersmith Palais, London. If you've ever been to a DMC event, I'd be interested to hear from you, see what you thought/think etc… Also be interesting to hear opinions from all comers really. You might hate hip-hop or love it, but no doubt you've got an opinion on turntablism, so don't be scared to share it.