DJ Craze is more than just a Miami legend, he's an international beat-merkin' icon. And when it comes to technicality, style, battling, whatever, Crazearoni's the man.
Tonight, he's celebrating his happy birthday with an especially rowdy and festive edition of the free Slow Roast monthly at The Garret at Grand Central. And to help him celebrate, we're counting down his five best battle DJs of all freaking time!
"It was different from the DMCs and all that stuff," Craze explains. "It wasn't about coming with the most technical, groundbreaking shit, it was about making the other guy look stupid. That's what I used to love about battling, that's why I think I did so well. I didn't really care about fuckin' winning gold decks or jackets, I just cared about making the other guy look completely stupid."
DJ Craze is still making little boys look dumb, but these five dudes are the guys who inspired him on the come-up or scared the shit out of him. Impressive resume points, for sure.
See also: Five Signs You Might Be a Shitty DJ
5. 8-Ball (San Francisco)
"8Ball was one of the guys that I look up to because he came out with the style where he would take a tone, like a long, single note, and make it into songs. People at the time had no idea how to do that, so they were just mesmerized by how he was playing "Mary Had a Little Lamb" or whatever was poplar at the time. People were just freaking out. And his style was ill, because he had the Kangol all the way up to his nose and shit. You were just like, 'What the fuck? How does he even do all the shit he's doing?' The tone master, yeah, he was one guy that I looked up to when I was growing up."
See also: Miami's Top Ten Hip-Hop DJs of All Time
4. Mix Master Mike (San Francisco)
"He didn't battle a lot, but the time that he did battle, New Music Seminar, I think it was like 1992 or '93, he absolutely killed it. And after he won, some idiot called DJ Supreme tested him and was like, 'Nah, you're not the real champion until you beat me.' He was the champ of the year before, and Mix Master Mike had run out of routines. He was such a G, he was like, 'Alright, I'm going to freestyle some shit and fuck you up.' And he did just that, he murdered him. What made Mix Master Mike amazing, and what I looked up to back then, was, again, his style. He just looked like he owned that shit, he looked fresh. He was doing fresh shit, but he had this one scratch where he would bend the record and then started tilting his hat and scratching with his elbow. It was just bananas."
3. Roc Raida (New York)
"One of my all-time favorites, rest in peace, Rock Raider, member of the X-Ecutioners, legendary Xmen. He was just a problem. Once again, his style was awesome, he just looked like a fuckin' G. He was the body-trick specialist. He would use every part of his body to do body tricks, and he came with the disses. He was the King of New York back then, battle DJing, it was Rock Raida. He's still the best body-trick DJ of all time, rest in peace. Love that guy."
2. A-Trak (Canada)
"A-Trak, I was scared of him, but I knew I had him because he was 16, and I had a little bit more experience. He wasn't at his full potential, but when he got to his full potential, he was the number-one guy that I feared. But he was part of my crew, so I didn't really fear him because we made a pact with each other to never battle each other. He would do the competition that I would not do, and we would just smash everybody in the world. When he was 18, I'm pretty sure everybody was gunnin' for me and him. What made him so amazing was that, like everybody in our crew, we didn't focus on one thing. We didn't focus on just beat juggling, or scratching, or body tricks, we were dope in everything, and he was the technical god back then. You couldn't fuck with him. The only way you could fuck wit' A-Trak was to diss the shit out of him and try to come up with something that was completely original, and that was really difficult back then."
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1. DJ Noize (Denmark)
"He was the most feared battle DJ, and let me stress again, battle DJ. Technically, he wasn't on our level, but when it was a battle, that was the guy that was the most feared because he was the king of wordplay. He would get up there and just completely diss the shit out of you, your style, everything about you with words. What was crazy is that he would take two different songs and somehow he would make the disses rhyme, which was like fucking crazy at the time. And he had such a smug look on his face that it was just like, 'Oh my god.' He would take all your good points and just throw 'em back at you, do something that was not technically better than you, but he would make you look like shit. That was what battling was all about, and DJ Noize was the guy for that."
Follow Kat Bein on Twitter @KatSaysKill.