A blog about Bloomsbury Academic's 33 1/3 series, our other books about music, and the world of sound in general.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Endtroducing...

I'm a bit surprised that it's taken this long for a book in the series to consist mainly of an extended interview with the creator(s) of the album in question. Maybe it's because the musicians don't have much to say; or they don't want to lower themselves to the level of these books and their authors; or maybe it's because they're dead. Josh Davis, thankfully, fits into none of these categories, and Eliot Wilder's forthcoming book about Endtroducing is completely fascinating as a result. Here's an extract (the book itself should be out in September):

In the mid-‘80s, I started watching an independent TV station up in San Jose that would show videos for hip-hop records by Run-D.M.C., the World Famous Supreme Team and Grand Master Flash. I was able to see people scratching on video. Somehow hearing scratching and seeing what it looked like – it made sense to my experiences touching vinyl and making it do things. The whole technological thing came back 360 because it seemed like such an out-there concept. And it was very much a stamp of hip-hop. It was something only hip-hop embraced and only hip-hop seemed to do. And this is way before the idea of genre meshing.

So now it’s late ‘84, and that’s when I got my first turntable.

What was it?

What I asked for was a Sears combination turntable, radio tuner and dual cassette deck, so that I could dub all of Stan Green’s tapes, so I could dub my own records and so I could still listen to the radio and dub mixes off the radio. By now I knew all the DJs names on KSOL. And I had also, by this point, figured out when the main guy who plays rap on KDVS, when his show was. His name was Oras Washington. He was a black guy from Richmond, California, who went to school at U.C. Davis. His real interest was groups like the Time but I think he decided that one way he could make his mark was to play hip-hop and rap and make a show out of it.

By now I was able to take in a lot of stuff. I stopped buying comic books. I stopped buying video games. I stopped spending my money on all the other things that kids at that time spent money on and started saving my money for records. And that pretty much became my spending pattern until I was off to college. I’d save almost all the money I had, sell my comic books, sell whatever, [laughs] to be able to buy records. Stan and I worked out a thing where we’d go to a store, and he’d buy two singles, and I’d buy two singles, so that between us we had four new 12-inches to record off each other. With the Sears turntable, the first thing I did was try to see how it worked for scratching. And, of course, I didn’t understand that you needed to have a mixer, and that belt-drive turntables don’t quite work the same as direct-drive turntables do, and that has to do with the motor in the turntable. If you pull back on the turntable with a belt, the belt slips, and it doesn’t speed back up again very fast, so you have to push it along. What I did figure out is that, if I held the little selector knob in between “tape” and “phono,” I was able to dub a tape and scratch over the top of it. It was like a glitch in the way that the turntable operated. I had wanted my own stereo for so damn long that, when I got this thing, I absorbed it. It became part of my bloodstream. I touched every knob and fiddled with the thing endlessly and sat there at the radio.

Just out of curiosity, could you tell me what you think is the difference between turntablism and scratching?

Turntablism is the description of scratching that’s supposed to make people who don’t listen to hip-hop, sit up and go “Hmm, maybe it is real music.” Scratching, to me, is just what it is. Turntablism has this virtuosic aspect to it, and to me, that’s when things start to turn jazzy. And I’m not a huge fan of when things turn jazzy. Because when I think of jazzy, I think of Wynton Marsalis. He came to speak at my African-American Studies class at U.C. Davis when I was a freshman. I remember him just standing up there, and just dissing rap for 20 minutes straight, and just loving the response he was getting from the lily-white audience. As if they were so thrilled that finally a black guy was speaking out against rap. I remember just sitting there thinking, Oh this sucks. I was venting about it afterward in class. Ever since then I’ve had this thing against people who over-intellectualize everything and make it an in-crowd-only thing. So, any time anything starts getting jazzy – and you are going to have to say it [whispers] “jazzy” – I run in the other direction because “jazzy” to me isn’t where it’s at.

13 comments:

Karl said...

Great subject for a book, this album...but you've got to do one for It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back by Public Enemy!

M said...

it surprises me too, actually. there are a few that would work really really well as oral histories--Paul's Boutique comes immediately to mind.

sander said...

this is great, looking forward to it. I tried to uncover some of DJ Shadow's early years a few years ago by travelling to Davis, CA and interviewing him about his childhood by phone. It's probably gonna have a lot of stuff that will be in the book, but might be nice to listen to for the moment:

http://3voor12.vpro.nl/3voor12/player/audio.jsp?audionumber=13604637

JD said...

I can't wait to read this one. The album is my all-time favorite.

puto bong bong said...

YO SUN WUT IZ THIS U SPEKE OF DOGZ? DUDE IS TLAKIN BOT SEARS WEN IM TALKIN BOWT NORDSTROM RACK DOG. MAN WEN WE GONA TALK BOWT THIS THING I DO CALD HIP HOP SUN!!!

Anonymous said...

DJ Shadow saved hip hop.

Andy Trimmel said...

I just read that Universal is about to reissue a remastered anniversart edition of "Endtroducing" with a bonus disc, so this is looking to be a great summer for DJ Shadow fans.

MagikM said...

About P.E...A book is in the making and drops late 2005 "Hank Shocklee - a full comprehensive book on the creation of It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back"

MagikM said...

About P.E...A book is in the making and drops late 2005 "Hank Shocklee - a full comprehensive book on the creation of It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back"

venkman said...

sometimes jazz can be good.

i'll def' be getting this book.

kselecta said...

..not too sure bout the jazz comment...Wynton Marsalis is not the whole of jazz, but jazz is a primary stream from which much of hip hop comes. Maybe it is a NYC thing, but you can feel the connection between the 2 when ever you hear the crazy heavies in jazz, particualrly those from the Miles camp...dig?

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