Acclaimed Cincinnati hip hop outfit The Animal Crackers are no strangers to the DJ Battle community, and their resume includes team and individual member work with Scribble Jam, MC Paul Barman and legendary Ambassador of Funk Bootsy Collins. Other past mentions within their resumes would include working with hip hop producer legend Hi-Tek and critically acclaimed trio Glue. More recently their Off the Block Mondays, something of a reboot of their weekly real-life Short Vine 8 Mile weekly Wednesday night MC battles, feature multi-turntable scratch sessions with Mr.Dibbs. Those events were and continue to be the flashpoint of many local, national and upcoming underground and indie hip hop artists.
So, it makes sense they’ll be overseeing a local competition for the world’s most preeminent DJ competition.
On Friday, May 10, members of the notorious turntable crew present the 2019 DMC Regional DJ Battle at Columbia Performance Center. DMC’s DJ Battles are considered to be the highest-regarded career-making or -breaking events, and this year’s regional battle is the first to be held at the Columbia Performance Center.
For the competition, DJs showcase their best skills in an all-too-brief two-minute window. The top six performers then proceed to the next round.
Past winners include DJ Qbert, Mix Master Mike, Roc Raida, DJ Craze, DJ Swamp, DJ CashMoney, the homie, DJ Chris Karns, DJ Slice. Regional champs include DJ Sparechange from Dayton, Bombeardo, members of the CTA crew from Chicago and DJ Lord, now a seasoned DJ for Public Enemy.
London’s Roger Johnson was the first DMC titleholder, way back in 1985. The next year, DJ Cheese scratched his way to the top and, in 1987, showmanship really entered the picture: body tricks and props like billiard cues wowed audiences at venues as legendary as the Royal Albert Hall. In fact, audiences of up to 5,000 would eventually gather for awe-inspiring and jaw-dropping performances by future legends like Philadelphia’s Cash Money.
“Due to the ever-expanding definition of the word and concept of ‘DJ,’” explains Animal Cracker DJ NoahimeaN, “we noticed that the crowd – although larger – didn’t necessarily know what to expect or took the time to appreciate some of the more technical aspects and showmanship.”
It’s his hope that Animal Crackers’ continued involvement along with other like-minded local DJs, aficionados and the new venue space will remedy that issue.
The Columbia Performance Center is a location that’s quickly made a name for itself in the hip hop community, in just a few short years; it’s home to Animal Cracker DJ Tobotius’ Thundertone Studio, it’s the headquarters of Manimal Records, and it’s a rehearsal space for a number of acts.
It’s also a creative hub for traveling and hometown artists to connect and collaborate. Recent guests are a veritable who’s-who of the hip hop community: Vast Aire of Cannibal Ox, Yelawolf, Juice Crew legend Craig G, Supernatural, The X-Clan, Mr. Dibbs, Piakhan, Jay Wizzo, IsWhat?, Fam Gems, Sons of Silverton, Raised by Wolves and Scribbling Idiots. NoahimeaN is quick to add, “up-and-coming young bloods like P.O.C., Kelby Savage and B Shields have also been through.”
The Queen City’s DMC involvement continues to speak a great deal about the state of hip hop. Hosting the battle here demonstrates, he says, while there may be different perceptions of a DJ battle, we’ve still got a supportive scene that’s ready to embrace it.
“The DMC has grown to define and redefine the evolution of both technology and music that it creates and recreates, the state of the DJ’s art,” he continues. “It drives creativity and the concept of what a DJ / turntablist / performance artist can do, and pushes the envelope both technically and creatively.”
The 2019 DMC Cincinnati Regional DJ Battle takes place Friday, May 10, from 7p-12a at Columbia Performance Center in Cincinnati. For more information – including registration information – please visit this.
Words by Bill Furbee.