Mixmaster MikeMixmaster Mike - Biography of the Serial Wax Killer
I was born and raised in San Francisco, where I grew up listening to a wide variety of different types of music thanks to my uncles, who collected vinyl and had shelves and big boxes of all types of records - mostly funk, 70's stuff. Ever since I was in little league baseball, I would come home to a house full of people blasting music, which really had an important affect on the way I listened to music, and planted the seeds for my later learning to pinpoint bits of music, like a breakdown, a chorus, a guitar solo, whatever it was I was hearing.
In 1984, when I was 14 years old, I was introduced to the art of hiphop through B-Boying and breaking, and it was this movement, this art form that was so new, and so full of energy, that captured my heart and really made me want to be involved. So I grabbed two tape decks from my uncles' old storage rooms and hooked up some speakers. I would put two different music selections on two cassette decks, and blend them while using the pause button to speed up or slow down the tempos in order to keep both on the beat. That's how the mixing started.
Around the same time, I happened to catch something on TV that would change my life forever. Herbie Hancock, who was a popular artist back then, was on some show and introduced a person by the name of Grandmixer DST, live in concert. The only thing was, this guy DST wasn't a singer, and he didn't play any instruments like an average musician would play. Instead he had a turntable, and using his thumb, he was moving the record back and forth against the needle. It was my first introduction to this futuristic art of music manipulation called scratching. And from then on, all I ever wanted to be was a scratch DJ.
With my newfound love of hiphop and scratching, I got involved in the mobile dj business, playing house parties, weddings, and family functions for as little as a measly thirty dollars to as much as seventy-five dollars, which at the time seemed like a lot of money. During one house party, a friend of mine introduced me to someone by the name of Richard Quitevis, now known the world over as my partner, DJ Q-Bert. Q-Bert, or Rich, wasn't a DJ at the time, but when he saw me scratching that night, it had the very same effect on him as when I first saw DST in concert cutting up the word "fresh" on the "Rock It" 12 inch.
The next day, I got a knock on my door. It was Rich. he had come over to watch me practice, and he would ask me to repeat different techniques, incorporating tricks and wacky mixes I'd recorded on tape at the time.
It was around that time I got very tired of getting yelled at by my mother to go to school, so I met up with a group of guys who were in the mobile DJ business and who needed a head DJ. I ran away from home to join up with these people in Sacramento. While I was there, word got around that Q-Bert was impressing a lot of people around him. I also heard that there was a DJ battle set to take place in his school cafeteria. So I grabbed some records and stopped by to challenge him. It turned out to be perhaps the most classic moment ever in the history of DJ hip-hop. I won the battle, but in a re-match soon after that, he won.
A few years into this whole DJing life, Q-Bert and I got tired of all this rival beef and decided to become one - a team, a scratch duo - the first DJ scratch band.
In 1991, the real competing began. When Q-Bert won the U.S. DMC championship in Chicago, it gave him this huge blanket of respect, not only in his hometown, but throughout the country. This great moment also put some pressure on me, 'cause I knew it was time for me to get up there and shine as well. So, in 1992 I entered the Supermen Battle for World Supremacy in New York City, where I was crowned the first ever West Coast DJ to win a world title. I did it! The same year, Q-Bert, Apollo, and I joined the DMC competition as a team. We wiped out all competitors in the U.S. finals, and then in the world finals in London, giving me two world titles in one year.
In 1993, Q-Bert and I decided to defend the DMC world title as a two-man team and went on to win, successfully defending our title with a battle performance which the DMC London once referred to as the "greatest DJ scratch routine in the history of mankind."
The next year, as we prepared to defend our world titles once again, we got a phone call from the DMC asking us to put down our swords and do a farewell retirement performance. They explained that they wanted us to do this because all of the other DMC competitors were too intimidated by us. Instead, they wanted us to retire and become judges, judging all DMC battles for the rest of our DJ careers. We accepted their offer. After a decade of battle competition, I became the only DJ to hold a record of three world titles - a record which no DJ has so far been able to break.
*Special thanks to DJ Q-Bert for giving me the inspiration, and the realization of what we both did for each other.
Mix Master Mike has recently become the newest member of the Beastie Boys, realizing yet another childhood dream. He is their new dj on the album "Hello Nasty," as well as joining them on tours of Europe and the United States.