In this episode of Crate Diggers, renowned scratcher DJ Qbert shows us what a record collection geared toward competitive scratching and playing parties looks like, while also talking influences from graffiti to Devo.
"Before hip hop I was heavily influenced by Devo," he says, telling a story of being exposed to the New Wave luminaries during an elementary school presentation. "Later I found out they were heavily influenced by Kraftwerk."
As a kid growing up in San Francisco in the '80s, Qbert heard limited things that would trickle down to the radio and TV stations he struggled to access.
"The only thing we could do is tune into a station you could barely hear," he says of his childhood. "The only thing we had that was weird was Channel 9, it was like public TV. And sometimes at 4 a.m. or 3 a.m. they would play Devo videos. That was it for us. That was the only thing we could get."
Later in the episode, he speaks lovingly of records with graffiti covers, showing off Fab 5 Freddy's "Change the Beat" and Schooly D's Saturday Night!. He then rifles through his organized but disparate collection, showing off records from Saturday morning cartoons, comedians and African artists like Royal Steel Band.
But his most prized possession is a signed copy of Marley Marl's In Control, Volume 1.
"Wow!" Qbert exclaims. "This is old as hell. I remember one time he gave me his phone number and I was like 'Oh, wow! Cool!' But I never called him. I was too scared. I'm still scared."