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The Lost Art of Beat Juggling

  1. Fade

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    Beat Juggling has always been the favorite part of DJ'ing for me, ever since I saw famous guys like Roc Raida, Mista Sinista, and Babu tear it up on the 1's and 2's back in the 1990's during DMC competitions, exhibitions, and live on stage in front of my own eyes. Being able to take two records and manipulate them in a way that you actually recreate them, making your own break is awe-inspiring.

    Back when I first got into DJ'ing, I taught myself to mix first, scratch second, and beat juggle third. I felt that this was the proper way to learn each step into becoming a full-fledged scratch DJ. Mixing/Blending was pretty straightforward, to match two records in tempo wasn't too hard to master, but of course there's more to it than that, much more. Scratching was fun to learn but it started getting tricky as I learned the more advanced scratches, it basically comes down to vinyl and fader control.


    Beat Juggling

    Beat Juggling was the hardest part to learn. Some people might think otherwise, but that's far from the truth. Sure, it's easy to go from a kick on the left turntable and quickly go to a snare on the right turntable, but try coming up with a complex juggle, and not just with two identical records; what about two entirely different pieces of vinyl? Didn't think so.

    The first time I pulled off an actual beat juggle was with the beginning of BDP's "Bridge Is Over" with the kick-kick-snare combo. I freaked out and from that point forward, beat juggling was my new hobby. I was using whatever records sounded funky and tried to come up with some unique creations on a daily basis. It also seemed like DJ's from all over the world were coming up with awesome juggles, from Roc Raida piecing together LOTUG'S "Chief Rocka" to Babu creating a dope mix with The Emotions' "Blind Alley". The key with that time period of basically the entire 1990's is that the juggles were fresh, funky, and had lots of style.



    The beat juggles of the 90's had a vibe to them that everyone could enjoy, even people who weren't into DJ battles or just DJ routines. They were juggles that had flow to them, weren't full of noise, and you could appreciate what the DJ did to the records, and everyone would be watching, amazed at how the juggle was done. Even for myself I would watch DMC tapes over and over trying to see if I could figure out how certain juggles were done!

    Modern Juggles

    What happened? The new era is what happened. Not to put the blame on DJ Craze, but to me it seems that ever since Craze blew everyone away with his 1998 DMC USA Finals set, everything changed. DJ's started using weird sounds in their juggles and gone were the sets with clean, yet funky beat juggles that we all knew. I have no problem with anyone trying to progress an art form, but don't just do it for the sake of doing it! Just because you can juggle with the up faders and at the same time mess with the EQ knobs, doesn't mean that you should. Too many DJ's started incorporating all this weird sounding shit into their sets instead of using dope beats that everyone can bob their head to.

    Music

    Of course, music as a whole played a big role too since DJ's didn't have that awesome 90's music coming out every week in the stores, but even with the newer music there's always something out there that you could use, and no, it doesn't have to have weird sounds and you don't have to be super fast. To give you an example:



    As you can see, beat juggling has changed tremendously over the years and really, who's to blame? You can blame Craze, or music itself, or today's DJ's for not caring about being funky on the turntables. Whoever or whatever is to blame is not the point right now, what is the point is that for whatever DJ's are still around today, do yourselves a favor and start juggling some good shit again! Especially with lots of DJ's using Serato or Traktor, there's literally no excuses. You now have every possible song at your disposal, so why are you still going to beat juggle crap?

    Beat juggling is hard to learn, but once you get the whole package down, it's such a rewarding experience to pull off a nice juggle on the turntables. Who could forget all of Roc Raida's hard work? Or Total Eclipse? Rob Swift? P-Trix when he juggled De La Soul? Roli Rho? Those are the classics. Today's cats need to go back and take a look at what was accomplished in the past and learn from it, take some notes and more importantly - use good records!

    Technical Skills

    Getting super technical on the turntables was a huge thing a few years back; lots of it derived from the top DJ's that would pull off complicated scratches, and eventually the beat juggling DJ's started getting technical with their juggles. It's a natural progression, but like I mentioned earlier, it failed in a lot of aspects. I think beat juggling needs to have style and SOUND really good. Honestly, how can you say this is NOT funky?



    Being technical doesn't give you style, it just means that you know how to learn something and follow it to the letter. How about just getting on the turntables, messing with the records and learning that way? Most cats don't want to bother doing that today because it's too time consuming I guess; they'd rather just take a DJ course (LOL) or some other ridiculous thing. Do you see rappers taking rap courses in order to learn how to MC? Nope. If they did and tried to battle they would be laughed out of the building. Every aspect of hip hop comes from within, and from years of practice and dedication. No person and/or book will be able to teach you that.

    So with that being said, I'll leave you with this piece of awesomeness:

     
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2016
    Drago Zetić likes this.
  2. DJ Excellence

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    Good read ... the last vid was really nice
     
  3. Fade

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  4. Pug

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    Great article!
     
  5. dacalion

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    Roc was a beast on the wheels! Great article!