Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Invisibl Men

Back in the late 80’s to the late 90’s, there was a collection of turntablists in Cali that used to meet in various bedrooms, basements and recording studios to practice beatjuggling, develop unorthodox stratch techniques, find/create new sounds, perform complex body tricks, blend strange recordsin hope of discovering something new, and rehearse these flawless and highly technical routines on multiple turntables for hours on end. There were many DJ’s but there were much fewer turntablists. There were several turntablists but few elite ones... these crazy mothafuckas were the elite of the elite.

At first they were called the West Coast Rock Steady Crew DJ’s. They were so dominant, ahead of their time and in their own worlds that in 1995 the governing body of the DMC asked that DJ’sQBert and Mixmaster Mike retire from competion at their events due to the fact that they had taken the titles the four previous years by such a wide margin that competing DJ’s didn’t wanna step up front and body themselves. They still appeared in future DMC’s...as judges and to do exhibitions and demos.

Their ranks had swelled over the years and their membership boasted an impressive roster of deck demons such as DJ Quest, DJ 8 Ball, DJ Yoga Frog, DJ Disk, DJ D Styles, DJ Flare, DJ Apollo, DJ Cuts, DJ A Trak, DJ Shortkut, Mixmaster Mike and DJ QBert . They have a rather extensive list of credits as well. Individual members contributed scratches to several classic hip hop projects. They used to blow peoples minds with their innovative routines in tours, exhibitions and showcases.

They branched out and sold scratch mixtapes on their website while performing for years on a pirate radio show called the The Shiggar Fraggar Show from 1994 to 1996. They recorded five 90 minute turntable mixtapes for Hip Hop Slam out in Oakland, the final show they did in May 1996 is the source material for the 1998 Hip Hop Slam Records release “The Shiggar Fraggar Show!” that I uploaded from my own crates. This album features appearances from show hosts DJ’s Cue and Killahoe, emcee U.B. , DJ Shortkut, DJ Apollo, DJ Disk, Mixmaster Mike and DJ QBert.

These DJ’s were collectively known as the Invisibl Skratch Piklz. The mere utterance of that name struck fear in the hearts of battle DJ’s and anticipation in the fans that came to see what these turntable terrorists were gonna do next. They were so ahead of their time that the question was “What’s left for them to do?” “Who can stand on a stage with them and not get chopped up?” In 1997 the ITF brought out the only crew on Earth that could match their wizardry on the decks to battle them, The X-Ecutioners.

The battle was a watershed moment and the fallout from seeing these two great crews of DJ’s pulling out all of the stops helped the art of turntablism receive more attention than it had in years. Now electronic music based indie labels such as Asphodel, Bomb Hip Hop, Ninja Tune, Axiom and Om Records were appraoaching the top turntablists in hip hop to record their genius so the world could be exposed to it. Soon, DMC and ITF qualifiers and compilations of past World Championship videos began to fly off shelves and sell in record numbers through hip hop mailorder companies.

Turntables became the most popular selling items in music stores and a new wave of seminal albums by turntablist were now on the market, among them were the Invisibl Skratch Piklz initial Asphodel Records release “Invisibl Skratch Piklz vs. Da Klamz Uv Deth”. It and the X-Executioners “X-pressions” helped reshape the way turntablists were veiwed in hip hop culture.

DJ QBert began to step his business game up (with assistance from Yoga Frog) and started his own label, Galactic Butt Hair Records (these cats come up with the weirdest names for shit). He envisioned a concept album in which an entire story would be told from beginning to end using records, samples and manipulating sounds with turntables. To add an extra dimension to it, QBert not only came up with the concept and story but he orchestrated and composed all of the sounds, music and scratches on the project but he wanted there to be an animated feature to go along with the album itself (this was years before Daft Punk and Toei Studios created “Instellar 555” which if you haven’t seen yet..I don’t know what to tell you).

DJ QBert enlisted his fellow ISP members along with bassist Buckethead and 5th Platoon ‘s master manipulator of the crossfader Vinroc (I’ve overdone it with the alliteration and switched up to rhyming). The album and animated feature film “Wave Twisters”both were well received and critically acclaimed. The film is still sometimes shown on the Sundance and IFC Film Channels. I uploaded a copy of the 1998 release for the readers of this blogs listening pleasure as well.

Not too long afterwards, the Invisibl Skratch Piklz decided it would be best to call it a wrap as a crew (they’d done enough damage!). They had some farewell shows and exhibitions at major hip hop events (that were taped and sold mad copies...the DVD format was brand spanking new as well!) and everyone got to give these DJ’s the proper respect and the send off they deserved. The DJ was at one point the backbone of hip hop culture joint as well as the focal point of the hip hop crew...emcees used to beg DJ’s to get on. DJ’s would hold auditions for emcees to join THEIR crews. The music industry turned the culture upside down and made the emcee the focus...Crews like ISP made it so hip hoppers worldwide realized not to take the DJ for granted ever again.

All uploaded albums are Zip files. For cover art, full tracklistings and more info, check http://www.discogs.com or do a regular Google search. Here are the links, enjoy ‘em:

Invisible Skratch Piklz-The Shiggar Fraggar Show! (1998)

DJ QBert-Wave Twisters (1998)



Perfecta said...

Damn, yo make a good read...thanks,you may wanna change the title tho, i got Invisibl Men

DL said...

Yo Dart nice ups. I've seen Q Bert a couple of times and it is truly a sight to be hold. I assume you've seen the Wave Twisters Movie - great stuff.



alley al said...

lol @ (I’ve overdone it with the alliteration and switched up to rhyming)

me n some friends saw the ny premiere of wave twisters at some downtown club and it was AWESOME!!
these fucking guys are geniuses. i'm sure i'm not the first to note it, but how miles davis is viewed upon now, and other pioneers.. q-bert and the isp and the like will have documentaries about them decades from now..

i've also had the pleasure of seeing xmen & isp rock ?8 decks together @ manhattan center back then.
and i'm pretty sure i saw qbert get "knighted" as a "mixmaster" but for the life of me, i can't remember where. FUCK! maybe it was a movie. lol

Strong Arm Mike said...

I was wondering if you got anymore ISP. I'm looking for hard-to-find Qbert, Mixmaster Mike, and Shortkut especially. If anybody wants to hear the 3 of them live, check out mixmaster mike's mixtape, Neckthrust One. There's like a 30-minute segement that mixmaster included. It's a segment where ISP, including these 3 specifically, fucking tear the tables to shreads (its a must hear, and some of the most obnoxious sounds put together that i've ever heard). Check that shit out.

Anonymous said...

You're right, DJ's shouldn't be taken for granted. They are part of the party. Heck, they are the party! There's a DJ party that's calling out to you. Yaris needs you in DC on June 21 at the Sphinx club. Mark this show date and location. DJ's will face off and reveal their skills at this event and be judged by Kenzo, DJ Clark Kent, Eddie Cruz and Bradley Carbone. Dice Raw and Truck North will also be performing live so make your RSVP at www.yarisversusyaris.com! One more battle On June 28 in Chicago as well. Just sharing this with y'all DJ's and DJ lovers because I work with Yaris.