Typically, every “DJ” knows how to push buttons and play music. But there are a select few who have a particular set of skills. Skills that they have acquired over a long period of time. Skills that make them a nightmare to phonograph needles everywhere. That’s because scratching is a lost art. Real scratching, not the stuff you were attempting to do back in the day on your dad’s old Isley Brothers record that almost got you put in time out.

In 2015, the term, DJ, elicits thoughts of someone who plays records on the radio or at a party, or someone who puts out mixtapes where they typically over-interject themselves into the product. In the early days of hip-hop, you had to be able to prove your skills on the crossfader before you could be stamped as official. In the early ’80s, pioneering turntable technicians like DJ Kool Herc, DJ Jazzy Jay, and Jam Master Jay were vinyl-manipulating gods, helping usher in a culture and a genre of music with a flicka da wrist. Others would follow. Films like Beat Streetin 1984 would later highlight the position of the cut creator on the silver screen.

After Just Blaze hit The Sprite Corner over the summer to show young teens how to create a beat, it got us thinking to which DJs can actually scratch. With technology advances everyone seems to be a “DJ” these days. We brought it back to the roots and came up with a list of DJs that started by actually scratching on their turntables. 

Here is a list of 16 disk jockeys who can really get busy on the wheels of steel…

Grand Wizard Theodore (New York)

Video via RockandSoul NYC on YouTube

When it comes to scratching, G Wiz is generally accepted as the alpha, having created the technique as we know it today. He is also credited with inventing the “needle drop” technique where the DJ drops the needle onto the exact beginning of the song. And yes, he still gets busy. 

Grandmaster Flash (New York)

Video via DJ Grandmaster Flash on YouTube

Another scratching triple OG, Flash worked closely with G Wiz. He’s the inventor of the backspin technique and punch phrasing, which are both widely used by DJs today. He along with the Furious Five were the first hip-hop acts to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007. Can he rip it? Yes, he can.

DJ Jaycee (Detroit/Atlanta)

Video via djkingjames on YouTube

The 2015 DMC Atlanta champion is one of the most heralded cut creators to walk this earth. Not only is he Ludacris’ personal DJ, but you can catch him spinning daily on Atlanta’s V103 radio station.

DJ Scratch (New York)

Video via djheat on YouTube

The Brooklyn turntablist is well known for his work on the 1s and 2s as well as production. His scratching accolades include winning the 1988 New Music Seminar Battle for World Supremacy DJ Championship, as well as being named the 2010 Master of the Mix Winner, and the 2012 and 2013 Global Spin Awards Turntablist of the Year. The name really says it all.

Mix Master Mike (San Francisco)

Video via The Strombo Show on YouTube

M3 is another DJ with tons of clout and hardware. A 3-time DMC World Champion and HOF inductee, Mike was the first West Coast DJ to win the New Music Seminar/Supermen Inc. DJ Battle for World Supremacy in New York City in 1992. He also worked with the Beastie Boys in the late ’90s and 2000s.

DJ Scientist (South Carolina)

Video via 864djsupaman on YouTube

The Ying Yang Twins’ tour DJ is about more than playing crunk and twerk anthems. A wizard behind two rotating records, Scientist’s sets are always memorable. 

DJ Babu (Washington, D.C.)

Video via Bootleg Kev on YouTube

As one-third of the group Dilated Peoples, Babu is another icon of the competitive scratching circuit. He has multiple Vestax and ITF (International Turntablist Federation) World Championship wins under his belt, and is credited with redefining the beat juggling technique. He is currently the curator for Dash Radio’s Beats Junkies Radio and a true monster on the turntables.

DJ Jazzy Jeff (Philadelphia)

Video via SeratoHQ on YouTube

There’s no need to look up the stats or count the trophies for this one. Jazzy Jeff is a legend. Point blank. Almost universally cast as the coldest cat currently rocking parties all over the world, ain’t nobody tossing Jazz out the crib, especially when it’s party time. Jeff’s sets are an AP class of what it is to be an all-around DJ. At this point, he could rip shows in his sleep.

DJ Nabs (Atlanta)

Video via Sin Sinner on YouTube

Nab is one of the leaders of the old school in ATL, earning his stripes in the early ’90s as SoSo Def’s exclusive DJ. He later toured with Mariah Carey, Ludacris, Ciara, and Michael Jackson. You can currently catch him spinning classic hip-hop on Atlanta’s Boom 102.9. His scratch game is on 100.

DJ Premier (New York)

Video via ezstreetshow on YouTube

It’s hard to hear a DJ scratching a record and not think of Premo. That’s because the DJ has kept the method alive in mainstream hip-hop for the past three decades with his iconic scratch and sample-heavy medleys. It’s not just in the studio. The former Gang Starr member can scratch the roof off a party. 

Tony Touch (New York)

Video via RockandSoul NYC on YouTube

Toca might be known more for his ’90s mixtape series 50 MCs and his Peacemakercompilation albums, but the original b-boy is nasty on the turntables too.

DJ Sara (Japan)

Video via djsararyusei on YouTube

Sara and her younger brother hopped on the Japanese DJ scene at young ages, after placing in an online scratch battle, and were soon ripping shet up, catching gigs at high profile parties in the U.S. As you see, big sis, now, 15, has only gotten better with time.

Just Blaze (New York)

Video via Sprite

Producer of multiplatinum hits? Yes. One of the greatest producers to ever grab a turntable? Check the yes box there too. Just Blaze will go down as one of the most impactful producers in hip-hop history, and Sprite was able to have him show a handful of teenagers how to create a beat at their bodega in downtown New York. Anytime you see Blaze on the turntables it’s a special moment. 

DJ D Styles (Bay Area)

Video via Scratch.my on YouTube

A former member of the Bay Area turntablist dream team, Invisibl Skratch Piklz, as well as Beat Junkies, and Third Sight, Styles’ name rings bells in the scratching circuit from the Bay to Bangkok. He released Phantazmagorea, a full-length scratch album in 2002 and continues to kill at events all over the world. 

DJ Netik (France)

Video via tapes were dope on YouTube

Netik is an alchemist on the turntables and has the trophies to prove it. He was the 2006 DMC World Champion, World Champion at the “Battle for World Supremacy” in 2002, Champion of Europe Scratch ITF in 2002, and on and on….

A-Trak (Montreal)

Video via A -Trak on YouTube

Mostly known in the mainstream as a producer and Kanye West’s former tour DJ, A-Trak is important in the turntable business. In 1997, Trak became the youngest person to win the title of DMC World Champion. Throw in multiple wins at the ITF and Vestax and there’s no denying A-Trak is among scratch royalty.

via: complex