So many hopped-up Hondas, Acuras and Mitsubishis zip up and down LosAngeles' 605 freeway that it looks like a makeshift set for The Fastand the Furious. Most of these drivers pass through the suburbansprawl of Cerritos on their way to “cooler” nearbylocations such as Huntington Beach, East L.A. or the So-Cal hip-hopground zero at Compton and Long Beach. But a little more than a yearago, the city became the home of one of California's finesthip-hop-record and battle-wax shops, Stacks, a must-visit mecca forturntablists and hip-hop DJs from all over Southern California.
Davey Dave pulls into the shop's parking lot in a macked-outMitsubishi Eclipse, making a dramatic entrance that's fit for a movie.If the scriptwriters for The Fast and the Furious stumbledacross Dave instead of Racer X, the film would have featured breakneckbattle sequences of fingers flying on faders and manic manipulation ofvinyl instead of car chases. Just listening to Dave's frenziedscratching going head-to-head with Q's sample manipulations on“Kung Fu” — featured on Überzone's new MoonshineCD, The Digital Mix — is enough to make your jaw drop andleave you hanging on the edge of your seat.
Dave's terrifying turntable techniques can also be heard on BT's“Mad Skillz” and Überzone's latest studio effort,Faith in the Future (Astralwerks, 2001); otherwise, you canwitness his moves live on tour when he plays with Überzone. Whenhe's not in the studio or on tour, he's helping Tascam with thedevelopment of its new series of DJ mixers, which includes the X-9 andXS-3. He's also working on a solo mix CD that will showcase some of hisinfluences beyond the nu-skool-breaks scene.
Dave chose Stacks for this “Shop.Talk.” excursion notonly because it's close to where he lives and works but also becausethe store stocks Southern California's best selection of the latestscratch and battle-break vinyl, including titles that are not availableelsewhere. The store is owned by Icy Ice, a former member of the BeatJunkies and DJ for KRS-One. Because of Ice's expert turntablistconnections, locals such as Melo D, Rhettmatic and Babu, as well asA-Trak and QBert, have all participated in clinics at the shop.
Upon entering the store, Dave cuts straight to the chase, asking theclerk to pull the latest battle-break records and scratch vinyl for himto check out. Dave gives every record a vigorous workout, dropping theneedle on the various samples and grooves, manipulating the disc andflipping the fader. A few records just don't win him over, likeToadstyle's Flatulent Boy Confesses. “I really wanted tolike that record,” he says. “It's too bad, because thattitle is too much.”
After spending a couple of hours going through about 15 records,Dave found eight slabs of wax for his crates, including an exclusivepreview of Icy Ice's upcoming debut disc.
Butt Ugly Breaks (Dirtstyle)
The label on this record is really ugly. I almost can't scratch whenI look at it, because it's so disgusting. It throws me off. This isn'trecorded very well, but the sounds are still really good. This has goodsynth sounds and good beats to practice to. It's a decent all-aroundrecord from Dirtstyle with a very offensive cover.
Hill Billy Brayks (Dirtstyle)
This doesn't have as many samples as the other records, but I reallylike it because it has a lot of synth sounds that I can use when I playwith Überzone. The beats on it are really good to practice to, andthere's a lot of bass in it. The video-game sounds are great. I'dsample them into my X-9 mixer and work with them in there.
The Adventures of Eskimo Joe — Joe vs. theVolcano, vol. 1 (Stacks)
This has good beats to session to, but it also has a good section ofdiss samples for when you do a battle or a competition. It's anall-around good record. Ice doesn't overdo it with the battle stuff. Ithas some good stuff for drumming; scratch sentences; some skip-proofsamples; and even some tones, too. Damn, Ice, this is a really goodrecord! It's reminiscent of the Bionic Booger Breaks record— very well-rounded. This is my favorite record so far. I'd takethis out with me when I'm doing a solo gig without Q. This has all ofthe elements of a good break-and-scratch record: drumming, beats forbeat juggling, beats to session to, good samples, skip-proof samples, along tone at the end and a good sound quality.
Legend of the Scratch (Extensive Research)
This has some Speak 'N Spell samples that are cool, as well as a lotof the classic samples that you need. Everyone has to have the“aah” and “fresh” samples, and they're here. Italso has a lot of cool synth sounds that I could totally take advantageof when I'm playing with Q. There are a lot of good, hard beats on bothsides of the record that you can scratch over, use as transitions or dobeat juggling with. This is an all-around good record, and it has areally good sound quality.
Gambling Pete's Sin City Breaks (Lowlife)
This one is really easy to maneuver, and it has a lot of skip-proofsamples. It has all the classic samples — the “aah,”“fresh” and breathing from Kraftwerk's “Tour deFrance.” I would definitely use this when I'm playing a live showwith Q and want to play some classic samples. The skip-proof samplesmean that I don't have to worry about wearing the record out. It's agood tool to have with a ton of cool samples and rhythms that you canbeat juggle or groove along with. Melo D of the Beat Junkies did this— the label's address is right here in Cerritos. Anything that'sby the Beat Junkies you can pretty much trust, especially Melo Dbecause he's one of the best technical scratchers out there. There'seven some guitar samples if you want to do some X-ecutioner-stylescratching. It's a good performance record.
Gag Seal Breaks (Dirtstyle)
You can trust anything on the Dirtstyle label. This has a goodvariety of sounds and a lot of skip-proof samples on it, too. It's astraight-up scratch record. I don't think you'd do too much beatjuggling with this. If you had two copies, you'd use one side for yoursamples and the other side to groove along with.
Y (Thud Rumble)
What is this one, Ouija board breaks? This is a great drum record.Both sides are straight-up drumming. Every turntablist needs somethinglike this. You have to listen to it a few times to get the groove andto know where to cue it. This is cool because it combines scratchsounds with beats so that you can scratch a sample a while then go tothe beat. If you mess up, it repeats itself. You can do everything onone turntable with this record. I'm having too much fun with this.
Bad Ass Breaks, vol. 1 (Styluswars)
Side A is a straight-up battle, diss-you record. Side B contains abunch of really good grooves to play along with instead of just samplesto scratch. It's a good record to use in scratch competitions, but itdoubles as a good practice record. If you're going to get this record,you'll need two copies to make the most out of it. If you really wantto diss someone, get this record.
For more information about Davey Dave, check outwww.tascamdj.com.
Listento audio examples of Dave's scratch techniques!