DJ Dusk''s Root Down Soundclash (Mochilla)

Party People in the House
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“We never really planned on making a film out of these now historical, energy-filled nights,” reads the inside sleeve of Soundclash, a new DVD by the folks at Mochilla. Good thing they did because the footage, never seen until now, is remarkable.

The late DJ Dusk was the host and organizer behind the storied Thursday nights in L.A. Like Jamaican soundsystem battles, the premise was to have the world''s best producers and DJs go head to head. The chosen placed their equipment on both ends of a stage, played their music, and the crowd picked the winner. Soundclash features three battles between 2001-2003 captured on two handheld cameras and illustrate how the legend surrounding Root Down grew.

Cut Chemist vs. Madlib is the first and most compelling battle. Both were skilled and eager and would go on to forge exciting careers soon after. The DVD also features a young, flamboyant Will.I.Am, dancing shirtless and taunting an energized Thes One, whose set is as eccentric as his Willy Wonka-esqe costume. Rounding out the DVD is Madlib''s younger brother, Oh No, battling L.A. beatsmith Exile, in a contest of scratches, knocking beats and samples galore.

There are clear winners and losers, but that''s not the point. Anyone who was lucky enough to hear the music and see the showmanship and fun involved left feeling as if they had just witnessed something important. That was the point of DJ Dusk''s Root Down parties, and Soundclash is as close as you can get to actually being there. Recommended.