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World famous Beat Junkie and Dilated Person, DJ Babu, was the first one to go by the title of a turntablist way back in 1995. He felt he was of a new breed of DJ, and needed to differentiate himself from the other jocks who merely played records.
Babu and his ilk are what scratch historian Mark Katz calls “Performative DJs” - those who differ from simple selectors by manipulating their records in real time.
From the early pioneer days of hip hop music, where the DJ’s name was the biggest one on the flyers, through the global battles for supremacy at competitions like the DMC, the art of playing the turntables like a musical instrument has developed into a highly technical sport over the years.
Innovations have occurred through a combination of happy accidents, intense study, ingenious ideas, and the rise of more and more sophisticated DJing equipment.
Let’s take a look back at some of the defining moments, key players, and the biggest game changers in the highly advanced DJ style known as turntablism…