DJ Craze's "New Slaves" routine dropped at the perfect time. With so much talk about #RealDJing at a time when people who are more about theatrics than actual DJ skill are making six figures per show, it's dope to see a decorated world champion DJ not only comment on the scene, but do it in a way where people can see that he's heads above the majority. What surprised me was how into the video the EDM blogosphere was. It's not like they're totally ignorant to DJ Craze's work, but for the number of scratch routines over the years he's thrown out there, combined with his history as a championship-winning DJ (which includes three consecutive DMC World Championships on his own, as well as US and World Team DMC championship wins), you'd think that more of his videos (or videos from DJs like Enferno and Shiftee) would get the same amount of love.
#RealDJing goes far beyond DJs not using sync buttons, and while we've seen critiques from guys like Art Department on what an Aoki or Laidback Luke really does during their sets, no one is putting in work during live shows on the level of someone like DJ Craze or A-Trak. And while we imagine many of you are up on Craze's history, we wanted to highlight some of the illest Craze routines and video you can find on YouTube. This includes a pair of his DMC World Championship-winning sets, some routines he's done for Native Instruments, and examples of the awesome display of skill that's been captured on video. Know that Craze has been doing this long before this "New Slaves" routine, and he'll continue to do so for years to come.
DMC World Championship 1999
This was the set that netted DJ Craze his second solo DMC World Championship in a row. While it's primarily made of hip-hop, and should be watched fully, drum & bass fans might want to skip to ahead five minutes in, to see Craze make a dnb track live on the decks. Real bassline manipulation, with a furious amen break to boot. This was before the turntablism set really got knee-deep in drum & bass (for good or ill).
"Got 2 Know"
Craze is one of those DJs that is a problem when you give him technology. He can already blow your fucking mind with vinyl, but throwing him a batch of Native Instruments gear? He's reconstructing beats in ways only thought imaginable sitting behind Pro Tools or Ableton. Check out his deconstruction of Flux Pavilion's "Got 2 Know."
DMC World Championship 2000
For Craze's third solo DMC World Championship win in a row, he pulled out all of the stops. The Muhammad Ali bit in the beginning asking "who's the champ of the world?" is a great addition, and shows how Craze was thinking about more than just pulling off dope routines. He always has a knack for dope lines or snippets of audio to be thrown in that make his shit much more relevant than "dope scratch, dope routine." Really pulls things together.
And for the drum & bass heads, about two minutes in he does a great segment beat juggling Ed Rush & Optical's "Watermelon." It's a bit slowed down, but works perfectly.
"R U Ready" / "Booty 2 The Ground"
The intro to this one is dope, with Craze throwing lines like he was back throwing shots at all opposition. In another demonstration of how ill he is with Traktor's Kontrol Z2, he constructs a routine using TNGHT's "R U Ready" and UZ & CRNKN's "Booty 2 The Ground." This one is heavier on button-mashing, but his hands are so fast that you might not realize how quickly he's backspinning a record then going back to tapping out chopped bits of the track. This is properly integrating tech into your DJ sets.
Drum & Bass Arena
This was a video that DJ Craze did for Drum & Bass Arena circa early 2000s, and the first three minutes or so are featured in a routine from his DJ Craze Live In Puerto Rico DVD, but the last minute is a nasty beat juggling bit. Around 1:28, DJ Craze kicks things up a notch, recreating a dope dnb beat on two decks. He had a thing for that; real fans might remember his 2001 Crazee Musick album for Bomb Hip Hop featured an entire jungle track he created using the turntables, "Mogli." If not, get up on that.
Not only is Craze using Native Instruments gear to tap out his own basslines, he's using Joker's "City Hopper" as his base. This is a dope blend of live manipulation of sound via the gear and his mesmerizing skills at the decks.
Roc Raida Tribute Party 2009
Roc Raida was a Grandmaster and a legend in the DJ scene, as a mixtape DJ, producer, and turntablist supreme. He unfortunately passed away in 2009, and the DJ community assembled for a special tribute party to pay respects to the Grandmaster. It's dope to see Craze paying homage to a legend, giving us an X-Men-style beat juggle clinic before putting on one of Run DMC's "Peter Piper"–which Raida had some amazing routines to–and doing a number of Raida-style body tricks. Plus he's hving fun doing it.
This is actually a live rendition of Craze's remix of "Defiant Order" by Birdy Nam Nam, which is dope on its own. It's really interesting to see how he does subtle things like pushing the platter forward to create a dope melody for the drop. It's short, and to the point.
Poland Freestyle, circa 2011
Shaky camera and wack audio aside, you really want to look at the different techniques Craze throws out here. About 50 seconds in, he's scratching a record while, instead of using the crossfader, is actually physically picking up the tonearm. It's turntable play that not too many scratch DJs seem to get into; Q-Bert does it a lot, and it's great to see Craze cut loose and just freestyle some amazing shit. No real juggling here, just extremely superb scratching cuts.
How many DJs can say they battled themselves? At the massive Scratchcon 2000 conference, DJ Craze let a discussion on battling that involved "Craze 1" going up against "Craze 2." How many of DJ Mag's Top 100 DJs could say they'd successfully battle themselves? Craze is a wizard and should be a national treasure. And he can still fade 'em all.