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DJ Qbert Taking Us Back to the Future

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    NEWSLETTERS

    DJ Qbert
    DJ Qbert

    If you have any remote interest in the art of DJing, you should definitely try to check out this event: San Francisco's DJ Qbert will be performing at the Ruby Room on Saturday as part of the SD Union event.

    DJ Qbert revolutionized the art of turntablism, which is the use of the turntable as a stand-alone musical instrument. Besides inventing new styles and new scratch techniques, his crew, the Invisibl Skratch Piklz, was the first to apply the band concept to turntablism, with each member serving a specific function with their scratching (e.g., one member is in charge of drums/percussion, another member is in charge of basslines, while somebody else takes the lead with a scratch solo). Qbert and fellow Skratch Piklz cohort Mix Master Mike reigned as Disco Mix Club (DMC) Champions from 1992-94. In 1998, the two of them entered the DMC DJ Hall of Fame.

    Though this is impressive enough as it is, Qbert's more significant contribution is probably his advocacy for turntablism as an art form. According to the impeccable DJ documentary Scratch, turntablists in the '90s were very secretive about their craft because they didn't want to share knowledge with competition. Qbert took the opposite approach, spreading the art to ensure future generations of turntablists. He also pioneered the use of sheet music for turntablists, creating his own unique annotation of different scratches and phrases. The sheet music would help DJ's replicate songs/routines and communicate with one another musically. Qbert is also famous for releasing a set of instructional VHS videos on DJing. You haven't experienced real hip-hop until you've seen Qbert make the most intricate scratches look completely effortless and then ask you to copy him as if any monkey could do what he just did. These instructional videos later evolved into what is now the online Qbert Skratch University.

    All this gushing is to say that Qbert is a legend, a visionary and clearly living in the future. Come see him when he takes a trip back to our time and blesses us with his turntable-based future speech.

    Ruby Room
    1271 University Ave., San Diego
    Ages 21+
    Doors open at 9 p.m.
    Tickets are available here

    Quan Vu Quan Vu is the founder and editor of local music blog SD Raps.com. He has also written about local and national hip-hop acts for San Diego CityBeat and the San Diego Reader. You can nerd out on rap trivia by following him on Twitter or e-mailing him directly.