Finally in Denver
The DMC DJ Championship started at DMC’s first DJ Convention in London in 1985. A young Londoner called Roger Johnson won the first event which wasn’t recorded and hardly featured a scratch! The venue was The Hippodrome and at the time was London’s premier and largest club.
It took America’s DJ Cheese in 1986 to bring the best out of the turntables by scratching his way to DMC’s first ever World Title. An unhappy runner-up, Holland’s Orlando Voorn grabbed the mic from the events MC and founder Tony Prince and bellowed the immortal word’s “What is this, a Mixing Competition or a Scratching Competition?”
By the following year, turntable tricks started to establish themselves with the emergence of props, body tricks and a variety of scratching techniques. In 1987 Chad Jackson, who later went on to chart success with ‘Hear the Drummer Get Wicked’ brought the title home to the UK thanks to a billiard cue and an American football. Chad had planned to levitate his last record across the audience in the Royal Albert Hall and he’d paid a magician £1000 for the trick. Unfortunately we were never to see what would have undoubtedly become the most talked about turntable trick of all time had someone not sabotaged the thin nylon chord which was to be the levitation device.
A year later at the same venue, 5000 fans witnessed an American DJ god born when Cash Money flew in from Philly to show the way forward for turntablism.
In 1989 DMC and global sponsor Technics introduced the golden SL1200 Turntables, a unique and priceless prize given to the newly crowned DMC champion. It was Cutmaster Swift who stood on the enormous purpose built stage in the shape of the iconic SL1200 turntable and took the title. Throughout this period tricks were paramount. The theory was, the more difficult the trick, the harder it was to maintain rhythm and fluency.
In 1990 DMC had the courage to hire Wembley Arena, a 7000 capacity venue usually filled by the rock and pop elite. This new venue became the launch pad for Germany’s DJ David whose showmanship and mixing ability was second to none.
Wembley Arena management didn’t want to host the championship in 1991 after ram-raiders tried to enter the venue driving a car through the stage door because they couldn’t get tickets! DMC are eternally grateful to the Boo Ya Tribe for manually holding the doors that night. So the championships were on the move once again this time to London’s Hammersmith Palais where DJ David held onto his title.
To this day, DJ David’s 1991 routine is still renowned for creating the most flamboyant trick in the Championships history. Mounting an SL1200 atop four coca cola cans whilst the lower deck played a looped vocal, David climbed onto the top deck supporting himself in a one arm B-Boy stance as the mighty Technics turntable took his entire weight and spun him like a human record. Beneath him the 12″ played the Jungle Brothers ‘I’ll House You’ and spat “Round and round and round and round and round and……” – the audience erupted.
However in 1992 whilst defending his title for the third year DJ David ran into a new breed of turntablist. Teams were allowed into the event for the very first time and the Rock Steady DJs from San Francisco with the now legendary Q-Bert, Mixmaster Mike and DJ Apollo, raised the bar almost beyond anyone’s reach. The following year the Rock Steady DJs came back as The Dream Team with members Q-Bert and Mixmaster Mike and claimed the title (there was only one event for the years 1993/1994). The Americans remained dominant and kept the title in the country for a third consecutive year with a most amazing performance from Roc Raida in 1995.
Then in 1996 in sun soaked Rimini, the tables literally turned and the coveted DMC title came back to Europe with the gold Technics SL1200’s going to Denmark with the peoples favourite DJ Noize. Records were mixed, scratched and broken in 1997 when the precociously talented 15 year old A-Trak arrived to show the world that age doesn’t matter! Canada, for the very first time, was in the DMC Hall of Fame and A-Trak was in the record books!
Each year the art evolved and with it there was always someone who shone with a totally new concept. Then Craze arrived from Miami. Three years later he’d won his third consecutive title – a feat that to this day hasn’t been equaled, let alone bettered. Craze’s decision to defend for a third time was undoubtedly a very brave one, many others who’d won quit whilst they were a champion so that they’d never be seen as a loser. But Craze had the ammunition, the confidence and skills to take the event to the next level. His historic years were 1998, 1999 and 2000. 2000 marked more than the turn of the century for the DMC Championships as the event took in one of the worlds most recognised venues, the Millennium Dome. That weekend more than 5000 fans from around the world converged into London and judging by the amount of disappointed non ticket holders, there could have been 5000 more.
After a barren 11 years, the UK took advantage of Craze’s resignation from the main event and a highly tuned Plus One stepped forward and took the 2001 crown. Adding to this young Scottish DJs fortunes was his admission into the Scratch Perverts, a position he still maintains, touring and entertaining thousands of people throughout the world.
In 2002 the sponsors were in for a treat as for the first time a Japanese competitor took the Technics turntables back to the land of their creators. DJ Kentaro moved at the speed of sound with amazing dexterity and musicianship. Even the judges gave him a standing ovation. Kentaro, locked in his home for a year had watched, learned and then delivered. Make no mistake, to learn the art is one thing, to develop a winning set is another, but to stand on stage before 3000 fans, knowledgeable judges and a camera team in your face takes nerves of steel and real courage.
In 2003 the UK rejoiced as DJ Dopey was dope-on-the-ropes delivering a knock out blow to those who had traveled to London’s renowned Brixton Academy to witness the latest styles and newest ideas, but in his defense, this year he met the magic of the USA’s latest turntable terrorist – ie.MERG who waltzed two consecutive wins in 2004 and 2005 as once again the USA came across the Atlantic to dominate the DJ world.
Whilst the solo event was now the highlight of a two day series of events, the Team Championship and The Battle for World Supremacy were now making their own noises and creating their own stars. Amongst them were the French, a superior team and battle nation (who introduced us to the 4 time World Team Champions – C2C) without a solo scalp…until 2006 when DJ Netik returned from a 4 year hiatus after his 2002 Battle win, to go on and claim the solo title. 2006 was also the year when generous sponsors Ortofon offered a $10,000 prize to the winners of the solo, team and battle events, a significant amount certainly worth fighting for!
2007 saw DMC return to the Millennium Dome, this time under its new O2 guise. Germany’s DJ Rafik took the world DJ Title back to a nation that hadn’t won since David’s acrobatic victory 15 years ago.
Which brings us to 2010 with hundreds of young hopefuls locked behind closed doors, working on a routine that will hopefully blow the audience away and have the DJs scribbling down the number 10 on their infamous clipboards. But until that moment arrives, the search continues..
The DMC Competition will be in Denver for the First time in its 26 year History! Be there on May 1st as the DMC invades the Walnut Room w/ Special Judges DJ Vajra, DJ Chonz & DJ Teeko w/ performances by: Foodchain & Break EFX (fresh off of Americas Best Dance Crew)
DMC World Final 2009 DVD Trailer