In venues from Tempe to Tokyo, Phoenix-based DJ Radar is notorious for dominating audiences with his innovative hip-hop creations. Now, in worn denim jeans, an olive green Bruce Lee tee shirt and a cap, Radar stands poised to dominate a crowd in an uncommon venue: a classroom.
Half a dozen stylish college students at Scottsdale Community College casually mingle in anticipation of their Monday afternoon class, where Radar -- with a humble presence and a soft voice -- almost completely blends in. Radar has teamed up with SCC to teach a series of courses covering the technical fundamentals of deejaying. "I want to get more people into turntablism," he says. "It's an important form of cultural expression."
A recent member of the movement to bring turntablism into the academic realm, Radar says the effort helps keep the musical form fresh. "The (DJ) culture can be like a secret society where people don't want to share technique with each other -- it's always been about secrets," he says. Radar -- whose eclectic background includes performing with symphony orchestras and dabbling in jazz -- guides students through everything from the most basic turntable techniques to more complex music notation. Ultimately, Radar says his goal is to broaden the legitimacy of deejaying. His vision is the establishment of a degree program in deejaying at an accredited Valley college. "How cool would it be for a student to be able to get a scholarship toward an education through deejaying?" he asks.
Radar will teach two six-week technical courses this summer. In the fall semester, Radar will instruct a more extensive turntablism course at SCC, which he claims is no basket-weaving course.
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"My manager failed the class last spring," he says.