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Tuesday, June 13, 2006

"ya played it for her / you can play it for me! / play it!"

While we’re tackling the question of who “invented” New Wave, let’s ponder another query: Who pioneered Turntablism?

Possible answer: One of the most bootlegged early turntablism records – a three-part opus by Double Dee and Steinski that drove hip-hop fans into a frenzy and copyright lawyers into a frenzy of a more litigious nature.

Steve Stein was an advertising copywriter and weekend warrior DJ when he teamed up with studio engineer Douglas “Double Dee” DiFranco to enter a contest sponsored by Tommy Boy Records to remix G.L.O.B.E. & Whiz Kid’s “Play That Beat, Mr. DJ”. Their remix was less a beefing up of an existing song and more of a total gutting and reconstruction. Humphrey Bogart, Herbie Hancock, the Supremes and even Culture Club all became part of the stew, a collage of sounds, samples and cuts from so many different sources, it’d be tough to name all of them (but you’re welcome to try).

Needless to say, Double Dee & Steinski won the contest.

“Lesson 1: The Payoff” made it to the promo-only white label stage and got quite a bit of radio play, but when it came time for a commercial release, the suits & ties stepped in and stopped it cold. “Lesson 1” then made the bootleg rounds, its legend increasing in the process.

Two sequels followed, the creatively named “Lesson 2: The James Brown Mix” and “Lesson 3: A History of Hip-Hop”. There was a recent effort by a UK-based label to put together a compilation of all the “Lessons” – they went as far as to begin licensing all the different sound sources, until bootleggers beat them to the punch once again by releasing “Ultimate Lessons” on CD. At that point the label correctly thought, “Why bother?”

None of songs charted.
posted by John, 2:04 PM