March 6th, 2007
”To DJ Rob Swift, a vinyl recording is not merely a flat disc, but a 4-dimensional field of events without boundary. As opposed to hearing a performance, listening to him scratch is akin to watching the quantum destruction of space-time”–Harry Allen, Hip Hop Activist and Media Assassin, and a member the the AAAMC’s National Advisory Board.
It is said that hip hop culture is built on the elements of emceeing, breakin, graffiti, and DJing. While emceeing, or rapping, is probably the most popular element, most rappers would quickly acknowledge the vital presence of the DJ. In spite of the importance of the DJ, his role has often been relegated to supporting the rapper. By keeping the DJ as the central focus, As the Tables Turn takes an alternative view of a hip hop artist’s career through the eyes of DJ Rob Swift.
Queens, New York native Rob Swift was raised in a family of DJs and began DJing at the age of twelve. His well-honed skills as a turntablist have enabled him to win top DJing competitions, have a successful career with the X-ecutioners, and collaborate with a diverse group of artists including Linkin Park, Herbie Hancock, Bob James, Akineyle, and others. As the Tables Turn (a 90 min. documentary) is Swift’s video memoir of his development as a DJ within the matrix that is hip hop culture and influence.
The best thing about As the Tables Turn is that it gives voice to the experience of the “silent speaking partner” of hip hop music – the DJ/producer. Through Swift’s reflections and anecdotes from fellow X-ecutioners, Roc Raida and Mista Sinista, the viewer gets a glimpse inside of the process of how DJs design and practice their routines as well as how they try to remain grounded as friends while dealing with their increasing fame and success. Although the film suffers from a battle of focus between Rob Swift as an individual and Rob Swift as a member of the X-ecutioners collective, the insight that the viewer gains into the art of becoming a successful DJ helps move the pace along. In addition to detailing the career of Rob Swift and the X-ecutioners, the DJ battle footage, including battle footage of the West Coast-based Scratch Piklz, sheds light on the diversity of styles that exist within the larger DJ community.
As the Tables Turn is an insightful glimpse into the all-important role of the DJ in hip hop culture, as told by one of hip hop’s most respected turntablists, Rob Swift. Stories like his are an important addition to any hip hop library because they preserve the legacy of one of the original and central forces of hip hop culture. As the Tables Turn (The Rob Swift Story) accomplishes this through one of the best means possible–his own words.
Posted by fredara mareva
Review Genre(s): Rap and Hip-Hop