East Coast legends DJ Premier and DJ Scratch faced off on the ones and twos last night (August 18), rocking a crowd of about two thousand strong of all ages and races at Red Hook Park in Brooklyn.
The event was sponsored by the CityParks Foundation in New York City, which has been responsible for a number of outdoor hip-hop shows this summer, including performances by KRS-One, MC Lyte, and Naughty by Nature.
Scratch and Premo kicked it off by cutting up old school funk and soul classics, from The Steve Miller Band’s “Joker” to Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together” to Carl Douglas’s “Kung Fu Fighting,” which promptly got Scratch to get in his best Bruce Lee stance. At one point, after Scratch laid down Stevie Wonder’s “My Cherie Amour,” holding the crowd in slow jam rapture, Premo was forced to fall back. With nothing on deck, he excused himself, “I just pulled a Pete Rock—I’m not ready yet,” jokingly the legendary Mt. Vernon beatsmith, who was originally slated to battle Preme.
About 45 minutes in, Premo posed to the crowd, “Y’all ready to get into some hip-hop?” launching into Slick Rick’s “Children’s Story.” A few exchanges later, Scratch broke into the famous sing-a-long “Engine Engine Number Nine,” from Black Sheep’s “The Choice is Yours,” picking up his table in the palm of his right hand, while continuing to scratch the rest of the line (“Pick It Up!”) repeatedly with his left.
It was Scratch’s show, the true master of turntable theatrics, against Premier, a scratch-heavy producer, but not quite the showman. Yet, Scratch paid tribute to his opponent on the evening, spinning classic beats by the Gang Starr producer such as “New York State of Mind.” Premo returned the favor, spinning “New York Shit,” among other Scratch beats.
With only minutes to go in the set, Scratch brought out DJ Evil Dee to close it out, as the Black Moon producer and Scratch took turns swapping in and out on the same decks in fluid rotation. When host Danny Castro of the Lyricist Lounge asked the crowd who won the battle, Scratch won most of the praise, but it was obvious who was the true victor—the audience. -Devin Chanda
Photos courtesy of Sam Heesen. Click on the image to enlarge.