DJ Chronicles – 2: In Full Effect(?)

My freshman year at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles was spent trying to get my rapping career off the ground. Ya see, when I was in high school, I wrote a rap for me and my friends to perform for some project in Chemistry class. When the rest of my friends chickened out, I ended up having to do the whole rap myself. And from there, “MC J. Love” was born. I used a dual tape deck and music I recorded off the radio to make all the “instrumentals” for my first demo tape. Two of the eight tracks were just me messing around with records. The other tracks were of me rapping (quite badly, I must say) in a voice that hadn’t fully changed yet.

The pause-mix style of DJing continued until my second year of college, at which time, I managed to get my foot in the door at KSCR, the student-run radio station. (I didn’t try during my freshman year, because at orientation, I was told that getting on the air was next to impossible.) After a few performances on and around campus, I caught the ear of a guy named Mike K. who worked at KSCR. He promised he could make a star out of me, and he knew other guys who could make beats for me to rap over. He brought me into Studio B of the radio station, and it was there that I first got to lay my hands on a pair of Technics SL-1200MK2 turntables, the DJ industry standard.

I asked Mike K. if there was any way I could get an on-air spot. He put me in touch with the Program Director, who told me the only open spot they had was Sunday mornings from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. I’ll take it! Never mind that I’d had zero experience talking on the microphone, or that the radio signal couldn’t even reach the other side of campus, I had my own radio show!

My show was called “J. Love In Full Effect!” I still have a few of my airchecks.

Of course, the guys that were supposed to make the beats for me never came through. Now that I had access to turntables and hundreds of records to sample from, I said the hell with ’em, and started making my own beats. I also taught myself how to mix just like the DJs I grew up listening to. Once I got more comfortable talking on the mic, and had everyone convinced that I wasn’t the shy introvert I truly was, my Sunday morning show eventually became a Thursday evening show. Prime time, baby!

When Mike K. left school (not sure if he graduated or dropped out), I took over as urban music director at KSCR. I was also the mobile music director; whenever the university would have an event, I’d set up the mobile equipment and provide the music. This was mainly because no one else wanted to do it, but I didn’t care. I’d DJ every single frat party and orientation dance, if it meant that I had unlimited access to turntables, and I was getting free records from just about all the record labels.

By the time I graduated from USC, I still didn’t have my own DJ setup at home. I asked about a pair of rickety-looking Technics turntables that nobody was using, and the manager said if they worked, I could have them. So, I took ’em, then went downtown and bought myself a Gemini PDM-1008 “Scratchmaster” mixer with built-in sampler, and from there, it was on.

“Scratchmaster?” More like “knuckle buster.” 


To Be Continued…

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