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Masters of Turntablism
Masters of Turntablism is a 10-part series of short radio documentaries feature the Founding Fathers of Scratch: Kool Herc, Grandwizzard Theodore, GrandMixer DST, Grandmaster Flash, Afrika Bambaataa, The X-Ecutioners, Mix Master Mike, Q-Bert, Cut Chemist and DJ Shadow.
NEW! Check out KEXP Documentaries Lesson Plans using episodes from this series.


# 10 DJ Kentaro Breaks Down the Walls

Japanese DJ Kentaro adds video, body tricks and props to his turntablist techniques to put on a show. He’s a master at the nearly impossible art of needle dropping. Check out how Kentaro breaks down barriers between musical styles, cultures and generations with the turntable as his mode of travel.

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DJ Kentaro photo from myspace

DJ Kentaro photo from myspace

# 9 DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist Dig

California turntablists DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist are famous for digging. This is the art of finding just the right vinyl to complement a song made of many layers. Join KEXP Documentaries as we follow Cut and Shadow to their favorite record stores.

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DJ Shadow photo by Getinet From Flickr

Cut Chemist photo from myspace

# 8 The X-Ecutioners

New York DJ band The X-Ecutioners have an arsenal of unique turntable techniques. They battle as a band and as solo artists. Spend 5 minutes of quality time with these turntablist superstars: Rob Swift, Mista Sinista, Total Eclipse and Roc Raida to find out how a DJ band works and why a turntablist is truly a musician.

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Photo by Media Eater

Photo by Hooly Pics

# 7 Mix Master Mike, Q-Bert and The Invisibl Skratch Picklz

Bay Area turntablists Mix Master Mike and Q-Bert led the way for a new generation of turntablists by creating the first DJ band--The Invisibl Skratch Picklz. They shared their knowledge and skills openly, creating a whole new era in hip-hop.

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# 6 Run DMC Raps Over Rock and Roll

Run DMC’s turntablist Jam Master Jay was instrumental in creating the band’s remix of Aerosmith’s rock hit “Walk This Way”. This is the story of how rock and roll made it onto the turntable and how this song introduced popular culture to hip hop.

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Run DMC onstage with Aerosmith - from myspace

# 5 Grandmixer DST and Rockit

When Herbie Hancock performed his hit “Rockit” at the 1983 Grammy Awards Show, he came out with a full band that included a new kind of instrument: twin turntables. Join Cut Chemist, Mix-Master Mike and Q-Bert as they talk about how seeing this performance changed their lives.

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Art by Ignacy Uznański aka mcflegma

# 4 Grandwizzard Theodore and the First Scratch

A 12 year-old kid named Theodore was playing with his brother’s turntables and his mom walked in. He stopped the record while he was talking to her. When she left he noticed that if he rubbed the record back and forth it made this cool new sound! This “scratch” technique became the key building block for turntablism and hip hop.

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Photos by Joe Conzo

Photos by Joe Conzo

# 3 The First Turntablist Grandmaster Flash

Grandmaster Flash was the first DJ to touch the turntable, to move the vinyl under the needle to change the sound waves. An electronics wiz and devoted music lover, Flash extended the break on time and invented DJ techniques like cutting, backspinning and a cueing system called peek-a-boo.

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Photo by Stuart Spivack

# 2 Afrika Baambaataa Creates Culture

Afrika Bambaataa started out as a teenage gang leader in the Bronx. After winning an essay contest and a trip to Africa, he came back to form a positive community force called “The Zulu Nation." Bam was also famous for mixing genres together, using records as tools for composition rather than dance cuts. Most of all, Afrika Bambaataa created a foundation for hip hop culture by encouraging graffiti artists, dancers and MCs to complement the music.

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Bam photo from myspace

# 1 Kool Herc Invents Hip Hop

In the early 70s in the Bronx, Jamaican-born DJ Kool Herc used two turntables to extend the instrumental part of records. This instrumental part, called the "break", was the part where the dancers on the floor went crazy. This gave birth to a craze called "breakdancing." It also was the start of a billion-dollar industry called hip-hop.

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Kool Herc from myspace

Kool Herc from myspace


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