Huh? You stick your right leg out ... What the fuck? You stick your right leg in, and you shake it all about ... This is 644 Massachusetts Street, right?
It was. Liberty Hall. November 19. The KJHK Waxclash. A take-no-prisoners, best-of-the-best turntable competition. A clash. A battle. A war. A full house brimming with the savviest minds in the hip-hop underground. And 200-plus people doing the Hokey Pokey.
This was Kansas, after all.
Actually, KJHK 90.7's C.J. Wilford was merely warming up the crowd. Not that it needed to be primed. The Waxclash was an event in Lawrence -- one of the only nights when local talent can draw a few hundred paying customers without offering blow jobs and after-dinner mints with the price of admission. But it was also in danger of going the way of Crystal Pepsi and Paris Hilton's virginity. Previous clashes had been plagued by a sputtering sound system powered by malnourished hamsters. Participants grumbled about the voting process. Prominent DJs opted out.
But that hardly stopped the enthusiastic audience packed into Liberty Hall. Diluted or not, hip-hop events of this magnitude happen infrequently in Oz. And they were serving alcohol. College kids will happily sit through a three-hour lecture on the artificial insemination of Icelandic caribou if they can get shit-faced while doing so. Plus, organizers insisted things would run smoothly this time.
I had studied for the competition by watching the turntable battle sequence in Juice. In that movie, Omar Epps tortures the wheels of steel and becomes an accessory to two murders and an armed robbery. So I expected big things. If not murder, at least indecent exposure. What I got was DJ Peter.
Pete showed blatant disregard for the "kick-ass stage name" entry in the DJ handbook. He could have pulled off DJ Peter Piper Pecked a Pick of Pickled Peppers and still salvaged some cred. Then again, he did look like he'd found himself behind turntables only after stumbling out of a calculus study group.
Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater was proficient, threading Fresh Prince and LL Cool J to polite applause. But P-Daddy was Grandmaster Flash compared with DJ Jo-Jo, whose set wasn't as awful as, say, walking in on your father defecating on your mother's bare chest. But it still wasn't pretty.
This had to do mostly with Jo-Jo's sidekick, a Neanderthal whose primary task was to make everyone embarrassed for his parents. He gestured menacingly and assailed the assembly to "get your fucking hands up" while Jo-Jo fumbled with Fatboy Slim's "Weapon of Choice."
As low points go, you could do a lot worse. The highlights were just beginning.
DJ Kaiser Wilhelm the 23rd (sigh -- college students) set the eclectic standard by threading Junior Walker's "Shotgun," 2 Live Crew's "Me So Horny" and Hank Williams' "Your Cheatin' Heart," and DJ Speedy and DJ Aether matched one another scratch for scratch.
The Buggin' Out Crew filled intermissions with marathon break-dancing, spinning, flipping, styling and profiling. I threw my back out just watching moves the rest of us could attempt only after four hits of ecstasy and a quart of Wild Turkey.
Adrienne, a cooing coed in a tight, white dress, scatted poetry over thumping electronic beats that rendered her words indecipherable. I think I caught something about chocolate, thighs, death, slapping her ass and "piles and piles of rottweiler tails." Uh-huh. A flock of MCs also spit stanzas with varying success before A-Train the Human Beatbox took the stage to do a better impression of scratching turntables than anybody there actually scratching turntables.
It didn't seem to matter. The novelty of Waxclash was still fresh. The idea sound. The effort noble. The execution commendable. The dearth of reputable participants only a slight damper on a good evening for hip-hop culture in eastern Kansas.
The brightest constellation in this starry night was DJ Special Pants, either an utter genius or the biggest douche bag in Western civilization. When DJ SP wasn't mixing "Thriller" with Outkast, the redneck alter ego of DJ Omnes was rocking in a hideous Billy Ray Cyrus mullet wig and breaking records over his head. He got it. He understood. He knew the secret behind enjoying the Waxclash.
He didn't take it too seriously.