DJ QBert is one of Hip Hop’s biggest icons. However, to identify him as just a DJ is incredibly short sighted. QBert recently contributed some of his music to the new martial arts DVD 101 Submissions Vol. 2, which is available now at www.onthemat.com. It features some of the world’s greatest grappling masters in their greatest moments. Some of the fighters on this DVD include Charles Gracie, David Camarillo, Cameron Earle, UFC Champion BJ Penn, Marc Laimon, not to mention many up-and-comers. The DVD also features music by Paris, Encore, Feenom Circle, MC Shamako Noble, and Rio Life.
After only a few short moments with Q, it is plain to see he is more than just a DJ. He is a scratch innovator and inventor of new technology, like the QFO Turntable. He’s also a philosopher. In this interview, QBert and AllHipHop.com talk about his love for martial arts, his admiration for Bruce Lee, and the secret to becoming a master of any art your heart desires.
AllHipHop.com: Now, I know people know you for your wicked turntable skills, but-
Q: Damn, not my grappling skills? [laughs]
AllHipHop.com: At your crib, you have an octagon with a set of turntables and a mixer on each angle. Was that UFC inspired?
Q: Well honestly before I moved there, the UFC was just starting and I would watch that stuff all the time. So yes, it was an influence. Plus the fact that all the DJ’s could face each other and communicate ideas easier. Oh and another thing, was that there was this old school flick with Chuck Norris called The Octagon!
AllHipHop.com: I know a lot of DJ’s like Bruce Lee flicks. All Hip-Hop cats do, but, I notice among DJ’s it’s huge. Can you explain that admiration and are you one of those people?
Q: With any art, there comes hardcore training to get to that higher level of expertise and the same goes for scratching on turntables. I remember reading something about how Bruce Lee would train all the time, even at the airport, he would do a couple hundred kicks and punches and stuff in the air. So I even invented that portable mixer/turntable, the "QFO" just so I could practice wherever!
AllHipHop.com: What are some of your favorite Kung Fu flicks?
Q: Enter the Dragon, Fist of Legend, Drunken Master 2, The New Iron Monkey etc…But I’m really into the old ones where there’s lots of strange training and weird, unorthodox styles of Kung Fu. Those make me think of all kinds of ideas on the turntables and inspire me to believe anything is possible…here’s a few:
"The Victim" (Sammo Hung and Leung Kar Yan)
"Buddhist Fist" (Tsui Sui Ming)
"7 grandmasters" (Jack Long, Mark Long, Lee Yi Min)
"Tower of Death" (Roy Horan, Hwang Jang Lee)
"Daggers 8" (Wilson Tong, Lily Lee)
"My young auntie aka. Fangs of the tigress" (Lau Kar Leung, Wang Lung Wei)
"Fist of the white lotus" (Gordon Liu, Lo Leih)
"Master of the flying guillotine" (Jimmy Wang Yu)
"Chinese super ninjas" (The Venoms)
"Magnificent Butcher" (Sammo Hung)
"Duel to the Death" (Tsiu Su Keung)
AllHipHop.com: I know you are big on reading as well…Are there any philosophy books you have read that helped you to DJ better?
Q: The Book of Secrets by Osho, it’s on all these secret ways of getting into the meditative state that hardly anyone knows about. Also The Lost Teachings of Atlantis by Peniel, it’s about the secrets of our existence on earth and in the universe. It’s taught me about "the ultimate happiness is in giving, and the ultimate evil is selfishness". So all I do now is share all that I’ve learned and create things to make the world a better place, as best as I can with what I know best.
AllHipHop.com: Who are some of your favorite Brazilian Jiu Jitsu or NHB fighters?
Q: You know what’s cool, is I just met Rickson Gracie in Amsterdam, on the street! And I took a picture of him and he did a shaka with me and [DJ] Yoga Frog, and BJ Penn lives here in Hawaii too. We sponsored him when he was in the UFC for the first time! Let’s see, who else… Sakuraba, Bas, Couture, the Shamrocks, and all the Gracies of course.
AllHipHop.com: Sometimes, when I look at the how much culture is being exchanged on a DVD like 101 Submission Vol. 2– it’s amazing. You have people from all over the world doing a Japanese art innovated by the Brazilians. Then you have an art like turntablism started by African Americans, and innovated on many levels by Filipino cats like yourself…When you were in your bedroom practicing back in the 80’s did you ever think all these arts and skill sets would converge like this?
Q: Yes I did… it’s such a beautiful art. And because it’s a musical instrument, it just can’t help but continue to evolve forever just as any art does.
AllHipHop.com: So how can I get me one of those ill QBERT skateboards?
Q: There’s a new thudrumble.com website coming soon and we are gonna restock some!
AllHipHop.com: Are you guys working on a sequel to Wave Twisters: The Movie?
Q: I wanna do something completely different, but I want it to be a surprise. I’m just waiting to surprise myself with a new idea first. But it will come when the time is right, just gotta keep training on the scratch… because for some reason, something new always and interesting pops up when you are working, guaranteed!
AllHipHop.com: Any final words for the turntable and grappling masters in training?
Q: Practice, practice, then practice again. Be easy on yourself, but not too easy…Don’t forget to have fun, and that the pain is part of the fun too. Find your own personal style…In the beginning it’s like a child copying the elders. But in time you will develop your own personality. So just stick with it and you will be rewarded.
Adisa Banjoko is author of the highly controversial book Lyrical Swords Vol. 1: Hip Hop and Politics in the Mix. You can buy one today at www.lyricalswords.com .