Philadelphia’s own DJ Jazzy Jeff remains to be the best turntablist in the DJ culture. Working with big time DJ equipment companies such as Pioneer and Rane to create the futures next big DJ product, Jazzy Jeff is a legendary DJ.
Music Radar has put together Jeff’s top 6 tips to help scratch DJs become the best they could be.
1. Go BACK to School
“Skratch Bastid has his thing where he shows people how to get busy. Qbert has his Skratch University school. The Beat Junkies from Los Angeles have an amazing school called the Institute of Sound. And there’s a bunch of other great scratch academies around the country…so there are definitely places to check out if you are interested in learning how to begin.”
“They have everything from the basics, to all the way up to the most advanced techniques. So, if you want to start, there are places you can go, in person and online, where you can do that.”
2. Take Baby Steps
“One of the first scratch techniques you’ll need to learn is called the Baby Scratch [grabbing a sound on the deck and simply moving it back and forth with your hand, without using the crossfader].
“I think the Baby Scratch and Chirps and Transforms are the gateway to all the intricate scratches that you can do. It’s almost like scratches are combinations.
“It’s like boxing. If you learn how to jab and you learn how to block and you learn how to hook, then you can start putting multiple combinations together. That’s the beauty of it, you know? When someone pieces something together that no one else does, that’s when they get good.”
3. Keep it simple, Stupid! (LOL)
“You know what I’ve realized? Simple can sometimes be best. I’m a huge fan of all the most intricate scratches, and I see dope DJs that I’m going crazy inside over, but I look around and no one else understands.
“I’ve seen some of the most basic things translate in such a big way. That’s a lesson I learned along time ago. When Will and I first started going around the country with me doing DJ routines, it was so early on that there were places that didn’t have DJs that were doing these routines at this time. It was amazing. I would finish and there would be 10,000 people in utter silence.”
“That’s where the whole concept of Will saying things to me like, ‘Make it sound like a bird – Make it Chirp’ as I was scratching. He would explain to the crowd what was happening. We knew we had to bring it down to a level where the people could understand. That was a very, very important lesson that I learnt early on.
“I don’t care how intricate you are. If you go beyond someone’s knowledge of what it is, it’s not gonna translate. I always try to mix the funkier rhythmic stuff in with the technical stuff. I understand that all the super technical stuff I do, I’m just doing that for the other DJs. But the basic stuff, the stuff that translates. You gotta bring that.”
4. Be Smart!
“I remember doing an event a long time ago and I was doing this routine and then [legendary hip-hop DJ] Kid Capri walked up for his set and put the needle on the turntable, moved the crossfader on, and started tapping on the record and everybody went crazy! I loved it.
“I know a lot of great DJs, but there are only a few smart ones. Being smart is knowing who you’re playing for, and knowing just how much to give them. You gotta give them a little bit of stuff to say, ‘Wow! What did he just do?’ But not going so far to the point that they can’t comprehend that.”
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