Imagine a career aptitude test for hip-hop DJs:
Like to party? Check.
Willing to spend endless hours practicing the fine minutiae of mixing and scratching? Check.
Able to organize and care for thousands of vinyl records? Check.
Good at slang and look great in baggy clothes? Check.
Word up-you're ready for a challenging yet rewarding career as a hip-hop DJ.
That's not exactly how it happened for DJ Bakspin, the latest addition to the mix-show roster on Jammin' Z90 (90.3-FM), San Diego's biggest hip-hop radio station. But career counselors take note: this city's mix-show DJs are top-notch hip-hop artists making a living on the FM dial. Bakspin, who's been getting down with two turntables and a mixer since he was 13, is next on the come up.
"The first place I ever DJ'd was at my eighth-grade dance," he recalls. "There was a mobile disc jockey that the school had hired, and one of my classmates told him that I could freak it, so he let me on. I will never forget the reaction of my peers."
For those asleep during the turntablist revolution of the '90s, hip-hop DJs like Q-bert and the Beat Junkies advanced the art of scratching and mixing records to a technical level that would make Jimmy Hendrix shake his 'fro. San Diego's most listened-to and, arguably, best turntablists are the radio mix-show DJs who play for hundreds of thousands of listeners every day.
Following in the footsteps of local icons like Raggs, Bille Knight (now both with Blazin' 98.9-FM), Happee and Slyed, DJ Bakspin cuts it up every week from midnight to 2 a.m. on Z90's "Saturday Night Street Party."
While hip-hop purists might express frustration with the tightly scripted playlist and highly corporate content on Z90, none can argue with the raw skills displayed when Bakspin is on the cut. Technical mastery and devotion to the art of DJing is something Bakspin learned at an early age.
"I was inspired by the movie Juice with Omar Epps and Tupac," he says. "I realized that you could gain respect by practicing and perfecting a craft you enjoy.
"Your job as a mixer is to be the station's ear to the streets. We play the music that's proven to be hitting with the people, but we try to bring as much style and skill to it as possible."Catch DJ Bakspin on the air on Z90 or "in the club" at the Blue Tattoo on Friday and Sunday nights.