Turntabilism lovers will have beat juggles and scratching sounds dancing through their heads this weekend as Shortkut (Jonathon Cruz) returns to Taiwan for gigs tonight at Dreams in Kaohsiung and tomorrow at Search in Jhongli.
Shortkut started out as a mobile DJ for weddings and bar mitzvahs. He went on to win turntablist battles all over the west coast of the US and has been a member of three influential crews: Invisibl Skratch Piklz, Beat Junkies and Triple Threat DJs.
When reminiscing about the hours and hours of practice he spent preparing his intricate DJ battle routines, Shortkut said: “That time in my life was very exciting because it taught me to shoot for everything. As the years went by, I absorbed not just hip-hop, but all forms of music.”
Instead of battling it out for world supremacy, Shortkut now gets called on to judge scratching competitions. He said the new guys on the scene are technically proficient but, “Call me old school, I miss it when people used to flip the original record and make it a song of their own.”
Since he’s been playing music for more than 20 years, Shortkut knows how to read the crowd.
“There is most definitely a compromise between you and the crowd, depending on where you play,” he said. “I come from the school of hard-core hip-hop, but I know the current hits. There’s a lot of catchy shit, but some of the songs get way too cheesy.”
Shortkut is at Dreams, 125 Nantian St, Kaohsiung City (高雄市南天街125號), tonight from 10pm to 4:30pm. Admission is NT$600 for men and NT$200 for women for all you can drink. Students with a valid student ID get NT$100 off. Shortkut then plays at Search Nightclub, 7F, 182 Sinsheng Rd, Chungli City (中壢市新生路182號7樓) tomorrow. The party is from 10:30pm to 4am and admission is NT$700 for men and NT$200 for women for all you can drink.
While many people assume that hip-hop is the hottest club sound in Taiwan right now, Chicano (簡光廷 Chien Kuang Ting), is not so sure. He says the genre has ceased to exist.
He admits, though, that to make a living he has to sell out and only occasionally gets to play the hip-hop he identifies with.
How does he feel about his sobriquet of “Taiwan’s godfather of hip-hop”?
“I’m flattered. But seriously I think there’s no such thing as hip-hop in Taiwan anymore. The reason why they call me that is because my friends and I used to throw hip-hop parties back when electronic dance music was really popular. That was over 10 years ago when hip-hop was nowhere to be found in clubs because nobody was listening to hip-hop.”
In 2001 Chicano entered the Vestax DJ competition and won first place. As a veteran DJ, what does he make of the younger generation behind the decks?
“I think they tend to focus too much on scratching techniques and ignore the importance of cognition of the music and the history of hip-hop,” Chicano said. “Being a hip-hop DJ isn’t all about scratching and battling. You have to know your music well enough to create your own style.”
Besides teaching deejaying, Chicano plays at In Cool in Ximending every Thursday and Saturday. On Oct. 2 he DJs at Volar.
In Cool is located at B1, 115, Emei St, Taipei City (台北市峨嵋街115號B1).
Volar is located at 12F, 138, Bade Rd Sec 4, Taipei City (台北市八德路四段138號12樓). On the Net: www.volar.tw.