Mix Master Mike – Rescue 916 & Neckthrust One
I’m old. At least I am in the context of clubbing and nightlife, but the fringe benefit of that is having had the fortune to live through the transition between the vinyl and cassette era and into the digital age. Record store culture back in the day was something that really helped shape me as a person and a DJ, and while I rarely buy vinyl these days, I do miss that little sense of community that happens when you keep seeing the same faces digging at record stores you frequent. And cassettes, ah cassettes… DJ mixes are still called mixtapes, and I had a few which I absolutely caned.
Two absolute faves are here for you to enjoy – Neckthrust One and Rescue 916, by the incredible Mixmaster Mike. I must have listened to these mixtapes hundreds of times, and spent countless hours trying to decipher how on earth to pull off these other-worldly scratches. I spent a fortune hunting down the records (this was long before Discogs existed!), the Al Tariq – Peace Akki track being possibly the most satisfying find of my digging career, as I had begun to think it was as mythical as unicorns before I stumbled across it in a 2nd hand shop.
Side B of Rescue 916 starts suitably with Jeru The Damaja‘s seminal One Day, a paean to the true spirit of hip hop holding out against the corrupting influence of bling and the Puff Daddy style of doing things. These mixes really are a great example of the art of DJing hip hop, with Mike scratching his way through boom-bap classics, electro gems, nuggets of pure funk and all manner of the sort of quirky samples that make him such a distinctive character in the music landscape. Him and Q-Bert absolutely revolutionised the scratch DJ scene with their utter dominance of the DMCs in the early 90s as the key members of the Invisibl Skratch Piklz – as a little bonus, here is one of my favourite ever DMC routines, followed by the mixes themselves. And trust me when I say that this battle routine is absolutely light years against the basic zugga zugga of their competitors, it’s like they’ve beamed in from outer space to show these mere humans how it’s done.
At the time that I was hammering these cassettes MMM was “just” one of the best DJs in the world, from the best scratch crew. He then went on to become the DJ for one of my favourite acts, The Beastie Boys (seeing them at Manchester Academy back around 95 was a real life highlight!) , and was the engine room at the heart of their seminal “Three MCs and One DJ” track. Enjoy hearing a true master at work!