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Needle to the Record 

Kimberly Stewart

"I didn't know much about turntablism," says Kimberly Stewart during a conversation at El Myr in Little Five Points. Most people who weren't part of the late '90s underground hip-hop or electronic music scenes probably don't, either.

Back then, fledgling mixologists studied albums by master DJs like Q-Bert (1998's Wave Twisters), Kid Koala (2000's Carpal Tunnel Syndrome) and X-ecutioners (1997's X-pressions). They practiced esoteric scratch techniques like "orbits" and "flares," and gathered at major battles like the Disco Mix Competition (DMC) and, in Atlanta, Kool Mix and Breaklanta. Most of those events are gone now.

"A lot of them weren't coming out," says DJ Lord when asked what happened to all the DJ battles. As a champion turntablist who performs with Public Enemy, he's one of the area's best-known DJs. He adds that the climate changed, too. Hip-hop fans wanted to go out to nightclubs and hear party music instead of a DJ scratching up records for hours on end. "When [those events disappeared], and everyone wanted to dance, [the DJs] wouldn't come out. They stayed in their bedrooms because there was nowhere to showcase that talent. There's no outlet. Just club stuff."

"I'm personally not aware of any other DJ competitions that's been going on in Atlanta for a minute," says Stewart, who adds that the Guitar Center recently held the Atlanta leg of its national spin-off competition. So she created Needle to the Record, a DJ event scheduled for Sat., July 8, at Vinyl, with competitors DJ Lord, DJ Synthesis (who spins with local hip-hop group Psyche Origami), DJ Klever and DJ Machete X. B-Boy crews will work the floor, and plenty of graffiti art will be on display.

Incidentally, shortly after Needle to the Record was announced, local crew Dropbombz booked hip-hop icon KRS-One at the Loft, which is in the same building as Vinyl. The two promoters decided to collaborate, and will now offer joint and separate admission for both events. "There'll be overlapping, but for us, it's like the celebration of hip-hop, and it'll be in one building for one night," says Stewart.

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