Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Katz, Mark. “The Turntable as Weapon.” Chapter 6 in Capturing Sound: How Technology Has Changed Music, 114-36. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2004.

Turntablism in DJ battles subverts the intended function of musical recordings and demonstrates how users can shape recording technology instead of the other way around. Turntablism is a performative act of manipulating music recordings using a DJ turntable and has its roots in the beginnings of hip-hop. One modern practice of turntablism is DJ battles, in which two DJs taking turns demonstrating their turntable skills, with the crowd determining a winner based on technical and artistic ability. The origins of DJ battles are informal contests in the 1970s in the Bronx; by the mid 80s, formal competitions were organized by groups like the DMC (Disco Mix Club). Modern DJ battles are racially diverse, but are mainly dominated by young men. Despite the metaphorical violence of a “battle,” DJs battles are a safe space for young men to express themselves creatively. There is competition between contestants, but overall the performance and audience participation are more central to the activity. While there is no open discrimination of women in DJ battles, the lack of female participation is an issue. Underlying misogyny in rap music (indirectly related to DJ battles) and the battles themselves (dismissing opponents as “bitches,” for example), as well as a pervasive view of recording technology as gendered male, contribute to the relative lack of female battle DJs.

Index Classifications: 1900s, Popular

Contributed by: Matthew Van Vleet

Except where otherwise noted, this website is subject to a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
Musical Borrowing and Reworking - - 2024
Creative Commons Attribution License