Mash It Up

Z-Trip turns the tables and elevates the art of the DJ.

Before Z-Trip was living in Los Angeles as a signed artist, he had a home in basement clubs and bars, playing alongside other casualties of the genre wars in Tempe, Arizona. Calling themselves the Bombshelter DJs, Z-Trip and his mates Emile and Radar were part of a defiant collective of hip-hop DJs who mixed together whatever the fuck they felt like. Like Z-Trip, Radar went on to garner national attention. When he was 21, PBS filmed Radar performing "Concerto for Turntable," on which he led a symphony orchestra through a union of symphonic sound and scratching, guided only by his own "sheet music." Classically trained on piano and drums, he developed a scratch notation system for hip-hop DJs -- with the help of jazz pianist Raul Yanez -- the main objective of which was to prove that the turntable is a legitimate instrument.

Artists like Z-Trip and Radar have made a good case for the validity of the turntable. In fact, it's the only instrument really suited to the creative compositions and bold musical challenges Z-Trip tackles. However, his biggest obstacles to the top don't appear to be within his art form but outside it.

He's making us dizzy: DJ Z-Trip.
He's making us dizzy: DJ Z-Trip.

"The music in my life with Hollywood Records has become about lawyers and paperwork, and not about what it should be about, which is music -- so I'm a little frustrated with that," he says. "[But] you can achieve perfection. You've just got to work."

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