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Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2001

HIGH NOTES

Product Placement


Turntablism is the physical part of DJing, the act of slipping records on spindles and manipulating them in whatever configuration inspiration dictates. Some solo turntablists liken themselves to jugglers, which means their craft only has meaning in a live context. DJ Shadow is one of the ablest turntablists around, even if he rarely scratches, and has made a more lasting impression on the hip-hop scene with recordings. Shadow's only true, integrated album, "Endtroducing," released in 1996, is not only the best DJ album ever made, but also one of the seminal musical works of the '90s, equal to "Nevermind" and "Life After Death" in terms of defining its particular musical movement.

Cut Chemist and DJ Shadow

The fact that Shadow can re-create the elusive, shape-shifting music on "Endtroducing," which is completely made up of old recordings, in a live setting demonstrates that his turntablist skills are oriented more toward content than form. Having grown up in a white, working-class environment, where hip-hop was something you heard on the radio or the stereo rather than in a club or at a party, he learned his skills in a virtual vacuum -- and didn't really get to test them out on human beings until he went to college, where he met hip-hoppers who knew the game from the inside. His development as a DJ progressed in the opposite direction.

Cut Chemist's turntablist apprenticeship was more traditional, having scratched with a number of L.A.-area artists who eventually formed the influential hip-hop collective Jurassic 5, and then freelancing with everyone from the skacore band Less Than Jake to Latin-dance maniacs Ozomatli. His recordings are considered second only to Shadow's in terms of originality, but they are, for the most part, recorded live, thus making them more genuine within the turntablist purview. Both DJs are headlining tomorrow night's Product Placement party at the Liquid Room in Shinjuku, and though they will surely play some of their "hits" during the evening, the "nonstop live mix" description should be taken to indicate that a lot of what will go down should be off-the-cuff, meaning true turntablist antics that go beyond scratching.

Providing invaluable local support will be Takeshi Kubota, KZA from Force of Nature and Muro & Z-Trip.

Product Placement: Nov. 1, 8 p.m.-2 a.m., Shinjuku Liquid Room, (03) 3200-6831. Tickets are 4,500 yen at the door. For details, call Beat Ink at (03) 5766-6571.


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