Episode 151: A Very Scratchy 80s

Ahhhhh… this episode is really fresh! Today we’re exploring some of the earliest DJ scratching noises ever put on a recorded release.

Back in the 1980s, hip-hop DJs were just beginning to discover how a turntable (or two) could be used as a sort of musical instrument. Some examples of these early scratches landed on albums or singles… there, to be preserved for all time.

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In Episode 151, David picks one track from each year in the 1980s and we explore some early turntablism together.

The songs we listen to are:

(1981) Grandmaster FlashThe Adventures of Grandmaster Flash on the Wheels of Steel

Joseph Saddler, aka Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Inductee Grandmaster Flash, is known as one of the pioneers of turntablism. Wheels of Steel is one of the earliest examples that was ever… well, put to wax.

(1982) Malcolm McLarenBuffalo Gals

One of the stranger tracks on this list, Buffalo Gals was a UK smash and also hit big in some major US cities. This early 80s pop track contains quite a bit of early turntablism.

(1983) Herbie HancockRockit (I mean, obviously…)

This show basically couldn’t have been done without including this song. D.ST, the DJ on Rockit, was only 21 years old when asked to join Herbie’s band and ended up touring with them for three years.

(1984) DJ Chuck ChilloutHip Hop on Wax Vol. 1

In ’96, Chuck Chillout (aka Charles Turner) was responsible for helping DMX break onto the scene by playing Get At Me, Dog on the radio… but way back in the early 80s, he put out this scratchy cut.

(1985) UTFOLeader of the Pack

UTFO’s DJ, Mix Master Ice, took the classic Ahhhh scratch sound to a new level… and showed what a turntable can do in the hands of a capable DJ.

(1986) Schoolly D feat. DJ QS.TManiac (Remix)

A remix from a 1986 promo record, which featured “Gangster Boogie” on the other side. Listen to how clean some of these cuts are!

(1987) Sir Mix-a-LotElectro Scratch

Born Anthony Ray, he’s been producing, rapping, and DJing since ’83. While primarily known for Baby Got Back, many people aren’t aware that he’s a pretty wicked DJ.

(1988) HijackDoomsday of Rap

This group, credited as being inventors of Britcore, put out this highly-energetic hip-hop cut which contained some very spirited scratching.

(1989) Gang StarrWords I Manifest (Remix)

A remix of this classic track was the much-preferred version of DJ Premier, who himself said “When we did the original I was still not that good at making beats yet.”

We also have a listen to the very first DMC Championship set from 1985 by Roger Johnson, which you can also check out here.

The audio clip from the very end of the episode was sourced here.

Also mentioned in this episode:

The 100 Greatest Songs of the Century – So Far (Rolling Stone)

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