Show Recap: Justin Bua and Qbert kick off book tour
November 13, 2011
Justin Bua kicked off his promotional tour for his new book, The Legends of Hip Hop, Thursday night at the Independent in San Francisco, with the help of his good friends and former members of the Invisibl Skratch Piklz, DJs Qbert, Shortkut and Apollo. A historical night, this was the first time in over a decade that all three would appear at a show together.
Well, what can you say about the Invisibl Skratch Piklz? They seemed to had nonsensically broke up at their peak, and after a decade being solo artists, we start to see why maybe a little separation is good. Each DJ that showed up today, Apollo, Shortkut, and Qbert (Mix Master Mike, who was originally on the bill, had to withdraw due to family issues) each brought their own take at the art. Apollo played the part of the party DJ, the record picker, the guy that reads the crowd and get the blood flowing, mixing in a few tricks you probably wouldn’t get from your regular house party DJ. Shortkut who manned the decks afterwards, took a more technical approach, favoring break beats and doing more juggling, scratches, and other intricate techniques. And Qbert? Qbert is the same other-worldly alien we all know and love, a wizard at scratching, emphasizing a more esoteric vibe, as if these rhythmic scratches he performed were from classic instruments from another dimensional or spiritual plane. Three experienced and technically proficient DJs, each distinct in their own way.
Justin Bua himself turned out to be a natural on stage. Pacing the stage with a stand-up comic’s gait, he went through a slideshow presentation of his past work to introduce not only himself as an artist, but as a first hand witness to the birth of hip-hop. With plenty of photographic evidence of his upbringing in New York during those primordial days, he brings to life the desolation of the bankrupt-era Bronx and the characters that inhabited it. Like the tough Puerto Rican girls that will tell you they “will fuck you”—so ambiguous but yet so unpleasant. Or the gayest straight man he’s ever met, a German immigrant that predicted hip-hop would spread worldwide and to his home country. Bua, a bundle of contagious energy, who goes through several impressions and does some play acting, mixes it all with plenty of self-depreciating humor. It seems like he could hold down an entire stage show all by himself.