Exclusive Interview: Shiftee (USA) ~ World Supremacy Champion

5 12 2007

Shiftee

1) Intro about yourself? Age, where you from, what are you currently doing now?
I’m 21 years old. I’m from New York, but I am currently in Boston finishing up my last year of college at Harvard. I’m majoring in mathematics like any true G would. I’ve also been making music and performing with a hip hop group called Awkward Landing.

2) After winning the battle for world supremacy, what are your future plans for Turntablism? Are you like going to live full-time off it or just part-time? Or are you going to tour mix-sets, release mix tapes or battle breaks, get into production like Infamous & Develop or what not?

Right now, I’m planning on defending my title. I’ve been practicing pretty hardcore since I’ve won – so hardcore that I recently sprained my pinky.

Outside of that, I haven’t really decided anything yet. All those options you listed sound great – whatever it takes to make a living off of music. In particular, I’d like to perform a bunch and delve much deeper into composition and production. I do need to graduate though.

3) In this year a lot of peeps gave you props because you won without the assistance of customized battle breaks. How you feel about that and what do you feel about customized battle breaks.

I appreciate the props. I’ve always stuck to original records, so it’s great to see people showing love for what I do.

Custom Records: Outside of a battle, perfectly fine. In a battle, it really depends to me on how you use them. Is it you or your production doing the work? The trend I have seen in recent years is most people (of course, there are exceptions) are either

i) Putting a bunch of crazy sounds down but not really doing much to them,

OR

ii) Taking the same skills and patterns they’ve had for years and constructing their records so as to make these techniques sound way crazier.

As a result, there has been way more innovation in the sound of DJ sets in recent years than technique. To me, this is a shame. Now, understand, I’m not one of these people who thinks that this sort of thing is hurting battling because it is all “lame techno garbage” or something like that. I think these sets usually sound great. My problem is that this killer, powerful sound has come at the cost of general advancements in skills and technique.

Case in Point: One of the DJs I spoke to at DMC told me he spent 8 months working on his record for the competition, but only 3 weeks practicing for it.

To me, this is contrary to what a DJ battle is meant to be all about – it’s about figuring out how to flip your records! I also like the idea of equal opportunity DJing – that everyone (at least to some extent) has access to the same records. The custom sets can also be formulaic like – insert juggle pattern here, add drumming here, achieve victory. I could go on, but I’m starting to sound like an old grandfather talking about how “back in my day…”

I should say though that there are plenty of DJs who rock custom records that I think are extremely dope. I’m not trying to put myself above anyone or anything like that. Just as a fan, I’d like to see more original vinyl and more original skill!

4) Toughest round you faced so far in the battle?

I think my toughest round at the DMC was the quarterfinals against DJ Pimp from Spain. I was still nervous at this point and for whatever reason I just wasn’t feeling right on stage. My cuts were nowhere near where they usually are, I had skips, and I was pretty sloppy overall. Pimp came really, really clean (as pimps do), so I thought I was lucky to get by.

Or D’Oeuvre was also a very tough competitor, but by this time I was feeling very calm.

5) Overall what you think of the standard of DMC this year?

It was dope, especially in the showcase finals. A lot of the DJs were quite good and had an original swag. I thought the custom record use was a little out of control, particularly for the team battle. A ton of the teams had one record playing untouched the entire set! That’s one of the reasons I thought Kireek stood out. They used some customs (at least I thought so), but they flipped every record they put on in a funky, fresh way. They were sick!

6) You caught a lot of flak because you voted for Precision as compared to Rafik, explain this and your voting.

Did I? I wrote a lengthy justification of my placings here.

In short, Precision came with innovative, funky, and straight-up hard techniques that probably no other person in the world can match. I do not think anyone else out there could have flipped those records the way he did. Rafik’s set sounded incredible, but to me was a little repetitive in terms of manipulation. He also had a huge mistake, not even doing one of his juggle sets. In general, I think that if you are using records specifically designed for you to do your routine, you should have no major mistakes. Period. Precision also had a goof, but this was in the cueing of a record, which is far less significant in my opinion. He also didn’t have the implanted cohesion of custom records to make such an error less glaring. Don’t get me wrong though, Rafik is an unbelievable DJ!

I do want to address one issue though. All this talk that Precision didn’t deserve to win because he didn’t work for it is bullshit. Dude has been working his whole life to achieve those routines. Just because he didn’t specifically prepare them for the 2007 DMC does not make them any less amazing or impressive. As far as I’m concerned, if you haven’t done the routines at Worlds yet, they are fair game. It’s about finding the best set and the best DJ. Whether you study for a test or not (and trust me, Precision studied his ass off), an A+ is an A+ any way you cut it.

Okay, so I guess that wasn’t really short.

7) Toughest DJ you face besides in all battle arenas

I had some really tough battles against Merge back in the day.

8 ) Given that Lejad collaborate for customized records, would collaborating wit Emerge (who started the whole customized trend) to come out wit a killer routine for DMC next year?)

Haha, probably not. I’m planning to stick with original vinyl for battle routines.

9) Are you retired?

No, I’m only 21! I was in a retirement of sorts after 2004, but I’m back now.

10) Any favourite DJs?

Yessir: The X-ecutioners, Skratch Piklz, Beat Junkies, The Allies, 5th Platoon, Lo-Livez, I-Dee, Rafik (believe it or not), Troubl, Netik, Tigerstyle, Toadstyle, Excess, Mike Boo, Ricci Rucker, Kid Koala, Perseus, Kentaro, Supa Dave, P-Trix, Teeko, Vajra, the list goes on . . .

11) Tell as something we don’t know about Shiftee? hobbies etc etc or whatever you feel no one knows about you.

Um, let’s see. I make a mean sandwich. I’m a firm believer in the power of good socks. My favorite day of the week is Thursday. I have a friend who has manned a ship.

12) Shoutouts?

Shouts go out to the Lo-Livez (Precision, Cutfucious, Booge Blind, and the director man himself Tragik), Awkward Landing, the DMC fam, my Wah-nee fam, my fam fam, you yourself SkratchTv for supporting and giving a voice for Turntablism and supporting it a big way in Asia especially, the homie I-Dee, and The Mayor of Movieland Mr. Marcus Pinn. Peace!

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