Concerts

DJ Akshen Hopes to Save the DJ Program at Cyphers With This Weekend's Ultimate Cross-Fader Battle and Scratch Exchange

Think you're down with hip-hop culture? Okay, son, then which of its four elements -- be it rapping, b-boying, graf artistry, and turntablism -- is the most vital part of its mix? According to veteran local selector DJ Akshen, it's the latter, since the beats dropped from the decks help fuel everything else.

And no less a source than Kool Herc, the founding father of hip-hop, backs this up. "[He] created a style of DJing that allowed the b-boy to dance and the emcee to rap," Akshen says. "Without [DJs], the other elements couldn't exist."

So strong is Akshen's belief in the importance of the wheels of steel in hip-hop's cultural mix that he's spent the last couple years teaching turntablism courses over at Cyphers: The Center for Urban Arts. And now he's trying like hell to save said curriculum from being scratched.

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Benjamin Leatherman is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. He covers local nightlife, music, culture, geekery, and fringe pursuits.