Say what you want about the shift towards sample-free beats by many new producers, but records like Snoop Dogg's "I Wanna Rock" and Jay-Z's "D.O.A. (Death Of Autotune)" show that the perfect chopped-up loop can still lead to pandemonium in the clubs, radio, or on the Internet. DJ Babu, one third of Dilated Peoples and a key member of the DJ collective Beat Junkies, understands this as well as anyone else. For his acclaimed Duck Season series, he has dug in the crates and produced or remixed for artists such as Talib Kweli, Big Daddy Kane, M.O.P., Jurassic 5, MF Doom, Sean Price, and Defari, as well as putting out The Beat Tapes, an instrumental compilation filled with heaters built around samples he gathered around the globe.

Although he has accomplished much as a turntablist (often getting credited as the one who coined the term), he's now determined to achieve the same exalted status with production. "I'm trying to compete with Primo, and Alchemist," says Babu. We caught up with him while he was promoting The Beat Tapes Vol. 2, which dropped this past Tuesday, and asked the "turntablist" what his favorite scratch battle records were. Yes, kids. Q-Bert is in there.

Interview by Jaeki Cho

Scratch Records 1

The Turntablist Super Duck Breaks (1996); Super Duper Duck Breaks (2000)
• I don't know who made this, but it's the greatest scratch record ever. [Laughs.] There were great beats to juggle, but I think what drew everyone into this series was because of the scratch sentences. I'm sure if you go to the house of any DJ from the late 90s they'll have this record.

Scratch Record 2

DJ Q-Bert Bionic Booger Breaks (1993)
• Not only did it give you all the sounds you wanted, but also he puts them into a fashion that was good to use. He just always has ill shits you wish you had. Things that were on pieces of wax that you might not be able to juggle because the grooves were too tight, but he made edits and remixes so that something that was never touchable in a DJ routine now was.

Scratch Record 3

DJ Quest and Bullet Proof Scratch Hamsters Hamster Breaks Vol. 1 (1993)
• DJ Quest and his crew from the Bay put this together. This was the first record from our generation that you can specifically say was made for real hardcore scratch cats. I remember it was some kind of a low-key secret. Obviously, all the Bay Area DJs had it. A lot of people don't even know about this record because it was popular to a very underground circuit. But if you talk to any great DJs from '95 on, they all have like four to five copies burnt the fuck out.

Scratch Record 4

The Automator (Dan The Automator) Music to be Murdered By (1988)
• I remember I bought it just because the cover was ill. But it ended up becoming one of the first records that I had as a scratch tool. Up until this point if you wanted a sound to scratch you had to get that specific record. Like if I wanted, "Ah, this stuff is really fresh!" I had to go get Fab 5 Freddy's "Change the Beat". Before that record I never had anything that had all the tools there for me. So I still hold that one close to my heart.

Scratch Records 5

Ultimate Breaks and Beats (mid-1980s)
• This is actually a series because I couldn't name just one of them. I'm sure you heard the stories of Grandmaster Flash washing labels off records so others can't see what breaks were playing. So when somebody decided to collect all these records and released them as a series, it was incredible. Let me remind you this is pre-Internet. And I was so thrilled to realize, "Damn, this is a sample off 'Funky Drummer'? That drum beat on everybody's rap records is a James Brown song?" And for a long time they were scratch records too. It wasn't refined or particular as the newer ones, but it became a standard. I'll take it even further. On the Jazzy Jeff and Fresh Prince album Rock the House there's a bit on there where it's a live recording of Jazz performing at Union Square. And there's moments in his routine where I'm like, "Wow, how did he get from that record to the next record so fast?" I was like, "He must be doing this with three records stacked on each turntable because there's no way he can take out a record, put another one on, shuffle it to the right spot, and drop it on the beat." Then I was like, "But how can he do such cuts with three records stacked up? The needles would jump everywhere." And then I found the Ultimate Breaks and Beats series and all three of those samples Jazz used were in one volume. [Laughs.] So these were important for me growing up as a DJ, man.


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