Michael Schwartz has boasted more than a few titles in his day. Over the last couple of decades, the venerated DJ has been referred to as a "serial wax killer," a turntable guru, a three-time DMC world champ, and the (unofficial) fourth Beastie Boy. And if his legal name doesn't ring a bell, perhaps you've heard of his better-known moniker: Mix Master Mike.
And in case his DJing C.V. isn't already impressive enough, here's a few other highlights: Schwartz has also been a member of significant turntablism collectives the Rock Steady Crew and the Invisibl Skratch Piklz, starred in the landmark 2001 documentary Scratch, and has been an influence to countless wax workers worldwide, from A-Trak to Z-Trip.
Schwartz accumulated all of these titles during his enviable 26-year career of rocking the record decks in DJ booths around the globe, on such Beastie Boys albums as Hello Nasty and To the 5 Boroughs, and even in an episode of Yo Gabba Gabba. Not bad for a cat who started out screwing around with his uncle's record collection at age 15 while growing up in San Francisco.
This weekend, he'll perform his first gig in the Valley in eons when he visits BLUR Nightclub in Scottsdale on Saturday, January 24, and headlines its "All Pro Pre-Game Party."
Given his connection to Ad Rock, Mike D., and the late MCA -- which included serving as their resident DJ from 1998 onward -- Schwartz is likely to drop many Beastie Boys hits on the crowd at BLUR, as well as a storm of scratching. Both are Schwartz's two biggest claims to fame and helped slingshot him to superstardom in both the hip-hop and DJ worlds.
As he claimed in the intro of the Beastie Boys track, "Three MC's and One DJ," off 1998's Hello Nasty, Schwartz is famous for inventing the turntablist technique know as the "tweak scratch," as well as running his sound through a guitar effects pedal. Its one of many of tricks his arsenal and gets busted out in the amusing music for the aforementioned track and during many of his performances.
The scribes at our sister publication, City Pages, highlighted Schwartz's ample skills and work with the iconic hip-hop act as Mix Master Mike around the time that Hello Nasty came out:
Even if the track he appears on, "Three MC's and One DJ," comes with some of the chumpiest rhymes the [Beastie Boys] have ever clunked on wax, the Mix Master's performance -- which includes putting his turntables through a wah-wah pedal -- is one of the coolest moments on the record. And Mike, who spent his Beastie boyhood engrossed in hip hop, break dancing, video games, horror flicks, and Ultraman comics, is a junk-culture savant who fits perfectly into the group's mess-thetic. Live, he re-writes their classics, adding breaks or splicing up hits like "Shake Your Rump," and continuously editing cuts on the new record by pulling in new sampled snippets out of a grab bag of sources, from Dizzy Gillespie to N.W.A.
We're willing to bet you'll hear a similar mix of sounds and scratching if you check-ch-check-check-check-ch-check out his gig at BLUR on Saturday. Doors will open at 9:30 p.m. and admission is $25 via Relentless Beats.
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