After assembling this week’s line up, I realized that they are all Filipino American DJs; This is particularly significant because of the cultural impacts that Filipino Americans have had on Hip Hop, specifically through the realm of DJing and turntablism. From Filipino mobile DJs crews, from DJ QBert and DJ Neil Armstrong, to Vinroc, Apollo, and Skortkut, to Celskiii and Deeandroid, from competitions to night life to underground Hip Hop, Filipino American DJs continue to play a vital role in the global and local DJ scenes. This week, building directly onto the cultural legacy of Filipino American DJs, and taking us a notch further, I draw your attention to three incredible DJs and turntablists.
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DJ BITESIZE is a San Francisco born and Daly City raised gem in the Bay Area Hip Hop scene. With SoMa OG, Jo-Ill, by her side, Bitesize found her way around the wheels of steel under the mentorship of DJ Celskiii, who is one the founders of Skratchpad SF. While Bitesize isn’t old enough to buy her own alcohol yet, her skills as a turntablist is already catching the attention of Bay Area Hip Hop heads and artists, steadily growing a fan base. In 2018 alone, Bitesize took on the main stage at Pistahan, joined Ruby Ibarra on stage at the Daly City Kasayahan Filipino American History Month Celebration in October, and will join Ruby Ibarra again on November 30th for the Circa 91 Anniversary Concert at Brick and Mortar in San Francisco. DJ Bitesize was also featured on TFCU as a community spotlight for Filipino American History Month. I hope DJ Bitesize continues to rock, as she is already making a name for herself within the cultural legacy of Filipino American DJs.
HAPPY HOLIDAZE mixtape:
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DJ ET IV– ET and I crossed paths early in dance spaces like Serramonte del Rey, where he quietly practiced his popping and locking with other local Bay Area dancers. We didn’t truly meet until we ended up serving the same term for the Pilipino American Collegiate Endeavor (PACE) at SF State in 2010. At the time, I was extremely rigid in my beliefs when it came to revolutionary politics, community organizing, and “real” Hip Hop. Through my exchanges with ET, his perspective of embracing the good, the bad, and the ugly within Hip Hop culture helped me to soften my rigid perceptions, eventually leading me to a place where I can imagine what Hip Hop could be, how Hip Hop could look, and how we can facilitate these dialogues as Asian Americans in Hip Hop. In 2011, we took an opportunity to partner with a local bboy crew, the Jive Core Legion, to host a bboy and all-styles competition, and I asked ET, with his incredible taste and vast knowledge of music, to be one of the DJs on the line-up. ET shared that this was his first DJ gig, and we knew it would be far from his last.
Within the last few years, ET contributed his time to a youth DJ program called Sessions LA and nightlife in Los Angeles alongside DJ Phatrick, and has played for clubs across Manila in the Philippines. Recently, ET made his way back to the Bay, and continues to lend a hand in spaces like UNDSCVRD, as well as playing a monthly event called “Back to the Astral” in San Francisco. Through his taste in music, ET publicly displays his love for Tupac and the West Coast, without ever leaving his affinity for funk, soul, and smooth R&B. One of my favorite ET IV flips and mixtapes:
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DJ KUTTIN KANDI– It’s difficult to write about Kuttin Kandi without creating a list of her amazing accomplishments! The legendary Kuttin Kandi, aka the People’s Hip Hop Scholar, is not only a pillar in the global Hip Hop community as a renowned DJ, she is a vocal and passionate advocate for Black and Brown communities. While I’ve always heard of the name Kuttin Kandi, I first truly learned about her legend through Professor Allyson Tintiangco-Cubales around the time that Empire of Funk: Hip Hop and Representation in Filipina/o America (2013) was published. Originally from Queens, New York, Kuttin Kandi took the DJ world by storm, not only dominating competitions as a member of DJ crew 5th Platoon, but founding Hip Hop groups such as Anomalies, and reaching into the Hip Hop literary world through platforms like Hip Hop Bruha online blog and Guerrilla Words monthly open mic, among many other collectives and spaces. In 2018, she was named as a Global Hip Hop and Cultural Ambassador by Next Level’s Meridian International Center, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Currently, Kuttin Kandi is an Artist-in-Residence for U.C. San Diego’s SPACES and the San Diego International Airport, while still traveling to different cities to provide lectures on the intersections of Hip Hop, social justice, and diversity.
Personally, as a Hip Hop writer trying to document our community through a social justice lens of Asian American experiences, Kuttin Kandi has been like a north star, serving as a light and sense of direction. Without the path that Kandi has forged within turntablism, literary arts, Hip Hop history, knowledge, activism, and diversity, on stage and off stage, and doing so without omitting her intersectional experiences as a disabled, queer, Pilipin@ American womxn, writers like myself would not be here today!
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Hella Recommended Readings
Legions of Boom (2015) by Oliver Wang
Empire of Funk: Hip Hop and Representation in Filipino/a America (2013) by Mark Villegas and Roderick Labrador
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