Hip-Hop Legend Grand Wizard Theodore on His Three Favorite DJs
Friday night, old school hip-hop legend Grand Wizard Theodore will team up with one-time De La Soul producer Prince Paul for a night of grand grooves laced with a playful dose of turntable trickery at 330 Ritch. The Bronx-born and based Theodore's pioneering contribution to hip-hop's genetic make-up is legendary: According to accepted lore, he invented the technique of scratching when just 12-years-old, when his mother burst into his bedroom and he stopped the vinyl record he was playing with his hand, thereby noticing the novel sound the slowed-down record made as he slowly manipulated it. Theodore's recorded efforts are fondly appreciated too, with his offerings on the Wild Style soundtrack having been heartily embraced as sample sources by rap giants the Beastie Boys, Public Enemy, Nas and Rakim, and "Can I Get A Soul Clapp," cut with his MC troop the Fantastic Romantic Five, enduring as a swanky early-'80s rap single.
Grand Wizard Theodore
Ahead of Theodore's visit to San Francisco -- which, he says, will include a jaunt out to Fisherman's Wharf to satiate his seafood kicks -- he pays homage to three fellow DJ peers who get his official co-sign.
DJ Jazzy Jeff
"When it comes to party rocking, I think different DJs are unique in their own ways -- like you have some DJs who party rock with rock music, some who party rock with drum 'n' bass, and some use all different genres of music, but to me the most impressive as a party rocker is Jazzy Jeff. What he does is make everything he plays sound so exciting. I mean he'll play a record in a way that the people will still dance to it and not just be in front of the stage staring and watching him. You can be on the dance floor when Jazzy Jeff is playing and have a good time -- he doesn't manipulate the record to the point where it's overkill and it makes you want to stop dancing and leave the dance floor. A lot of DJs go for the overkill with trying to always manipulate the record they're playing, but Jazzy Jeff has mastered rocking a dance floor while leaving you in no doubt about his technical skills. As a DJ you don't mind if people just stand around the stage and watch what you're doing, but you're happier if everyone's out on the dance floor having a good time."
"My first impression of Qbert was that this is a guy who is really, really funny. He was real cool to talk to; we just had a bunch of laughs like that. If you've seen any of his videos, that's the way he is. If you spend a day with Qbert, just be prepared to laugh and laugh. And then when I seen him on the turntables I was knew this guy had a special gift, a very special gift.
"I think the first time I saw him play was with the Invisibl Skratch Piklz -- you know, with Mixmaster Mike and those guys -- and I seen him do a routine on stage and was like, "Wow, these guys are really incredible!" Then when Qbert started doing things on the solo tip, he started to get better and better as time went by. I think that's good, man, that you have some DJs that take this turntablism to the next level -- it just reassures me that the art form is going to be around for a long time. That's what I like most about him -- that he's always trying to evolve as a DJ and always trying to take his skills to the next level. He's not just a DJ that has great skills and is satisfied with them -- he's evolving every day, thinking of new ways to scratch and new ways to entertain a crowd."