Full Name: Ben Balagot
Crew: AutoReverse Productions / Sidewok Radio Crew
Birthplace: San Jose, CA
Currently Residing: San Jose, CA
Rookie Year: 1994
Music Selection Preference: old skool/new skool hip-hop //Other music appreciation:
Quote: “Why must you believe that something is phat just because it’s played on the radio TWENTY TIMES PER DAY!?” – Pharaohe Monch
I was around 9 years old, back in ’87 when I got my first radio as a birthday gift. It was a small, red Sony boom-box with dual cassette decks and shit like that. I scanned the stations for some music to listen to and I came across one with cool beats playing in the background. A disc jockey was interviewing an artist from Oakland, CA by the name of Too Short, who was promoting his new album “Born To Mack.” During the interview, the dj dropped the joint, “PartyTime.” With my attention captured, I kept my radio locked on the station that day, listening to various artists such as L.L. Cool J, Run DMC, and the Beastie Boys. Thus was born my love of the music called Hip-Hop.
From that time on, I would frequent a local record store called Star Records in San Jose, and I used my allowance to buy all sorts of new tapes to feed into my boom-box. In ’89, I bought my first 12″ record by Too Short called “Life Is Too Short”. Funny thing was I did not even own a record player at the time but I thought the look of an album cover and vinyl was cool that I needed to buy it. I had a radio dub of the song on tape so I listened to it, rewound parts over and over, wrote down the lyrics myself, and recited the rap until I memorized every damn word… “I remember how it all began//I used to sing dirty raps to my east side fans//back then I knew you couldn’t stop this rap//no emcee could rock like that..” Man that song is still fresh to me today. I did get a chance to play my Too Short 12″ when my parents bought a generic stereo shelf system with a built-in phonograph player.
I have two older cousins, who back then were already rockin’ L.L.’s gigantic boom-boxes and 12″ woofers in their rides. Best of all, one of my cousins Tony had a Technics turntable and a collection of vinyl. I’d only get to go to his place during family parties since I did not drive at the time and he lived in Alameda, CA (45 min away from San Jose). But whenever I went to Tony’s house, I’d hang out with my other cousin Mark. We’d sit in Tony’s room listening mainly to the hip-hop portion of his collection: everything from Rodney O. and Joe Cooley, to Public Enemy, to Eric B & Rakim and even some Freestyle music such as Debbie Deb joints. We’d listen to these songs while watching Fab 5 Freddy on YO! MTV Raps playing all the dope videos of the time. I grew up without cable TV at home so I’d jump at the chance to watch some videos on YO! or BET’s Rap City. Listening to the rhymes and hearing the dj’s scratching the record was intensified when actually watching it on TV. My appreciation for hip-hop grew when I learned about the pioneers of hip-hop, such as Grandmaster Flash, Kool Herc, Grand Wizard Theodore, and the SugarHill Gang. Man, you remember that song by 2pac “Old School”. “What more can I say, I wouldn’t be here today if the old school didn’t pave the way…” Go listen to that record, that basically summed shit up.
Fast forward to ’93-94. I was a sophomore in high school, and I met Mark Camba, alias DJ Maxim, who is now one of my good friends. I credit my introduction of the concept of dj’ing to Maxim. He taught me how to beat match and cut up records. He also introduced me to one of his boys, Brian Liclican, alias DJ Frequency, formerly of Mixx Force. Brian was a senior in high school when I met him and I used to tag along with Mark to Brian’s gigs to watch them get down. I knew that someday I wanted to get into the mobile thing and rock the 1200′s in front of a crowd. Around the same time I also met Tim Luym, formerly known as DJ Decipher now alias DJ Mosquito, also another one of my good friends today. During that time underground hip-hop was becoming famous in the scene and I was feelin’ artists such as Gangstarr, Main Source, 3rd Bass, and KMD. Tim was definitely into it as much as I was and he actually already had a solid collection of hip-hop vinyl. I credit him for enlightening me with the latest and greatest underground joints back then, introducing me to Nas’s “It Ain’t Hard To Tell” and Kurious’s “Uptown Shit.” Although Nas first appeared on Main Source’s “Live At The Barbecue”, I hadn’t paid attention to him until I kept bangin’ that first solo shot of his. I used to kick it at Tim’s pad whenever I had the chance and mix dope beats until the sun came up the next morning. Tim had an underground hip-hop radio show on KZSU Stanford from 3am-6am on Sunday mornings and I’d go with him to hang out and listen to dope beats in the studio. After the show, we’d go home and bob our heads to more beats, ignoring our fatigue from lack of sleep. I eventually ended up giving him my copy of that first 12″ I bought from Too Short because I never thought I would ever afford my own pair of turntables.
So from the mid-90â€™s through around my 2nd year of college (maybe late â€™97) I tagged along with Mark, Brian, and Tim who had since formed a new mobile crew called Maximum Frequency. Iâ€™d help them mix at some house party gigs using their vinyl. Through those years I also wanted to better my skills in scratching and juggling records so I needed to find a way to score my own pair of 1200′s. Then came the opportunity…
During school I wanted a career in computers, so I learned to build my own computers and shit. Why bring that up? Well, my interest in computers played a part in the whole turntable thing. I just built a new computer for myself, but also had a pretty decent computer on the side. My homegirl Stacey from LA had a brother who owned a pair of 1200′s. Stacey’s bro never really used them, often lending them it to a friend. Timing was on my side. He finally got his tables back one day, and coincidentally was in the market for a new computer. I asked Stacey to talk to her brother about the possibility of a trade with his tables for my spare computer, which I valued at around $600. The rest was history — one of my boys, J.B. was taking a trip to SoCal to see his moms so he delivered my computer to Alhambra, CA in exchange for the pair of Technics 1200 mk2′s. Because I didn’t have the money for a dope Vestax scratch mixer, Maxim and Mosquito lent me some of their old mixers so I could get up and running. I bought some scratch records and started practicing daily. I eventually saved up enough money to buy my first “performance” mixer, the Vestax 06 Pro.
I started record shopping non-stop for all the latest hip-hop out on wax. I wanted to build a phat collection of vinyl — that was my number one priority. But then I thought, “What good is a collection if you didn’t have a lot of the classics from back then?” Sure, I had a lot of the shit on tapes and cds but they weren’t on vinyl. So I had the big task of working backwards to get a lot of the old school and golden era hip-hop on vinyl. I’d hit up the record stores every week digging for old records while still keeping up with the new stuff. Then I hit my first “goldmine.” I found some dj on Craiglist selling his entire collection, and I was fortunate to beat everyone to the punch and cop an instant 600 records or so. The majority was classic hip-hop shit and I was overjoyed. That was enough motivation to further my hunger for vinyl. Through the years I discovered pretty good finds at the record stores, and more private parties selling batches of their vinyl that I definitely did not sleep on. All in all, I’m happy today with the effort I put in the past to obtain the collection I now have. I managed to find hip-hop wax from ’79-’05…
How did I choose the dj name “B-Side?” Well, most people thought because my name started with a “B,” it was the obvious choice. Although I could consider that part of the reason, my main influence was actually the joints on the flipside, or the b-side of the record. What about the b-side cuts? Well most of the time, it was the shadow to the cover track of a single, sometimes the slept on side, or the best kept secret track. Do you see where I’m headed?
Hip-Hop is dope. But I’m into all types of good music. When I’m not on hip-hop projects, you can catch me listening, digging, and mixng on several other genres, such as neosoul, classic soul, disco, funk, jazz, downtempo, breaks, funky/soulful house, reggae, and alternative rock. Did I mention I love old skool music? Yeah I love all them 70-80′s music too. It’s all good. I have a good chunk of that in my vinyl collection too.
Since I got my own decks in late ’97, I got my share of mobiles, club, bar/lounge, and college radio gigs as well as putting down my own mix tapes/cd’s and collabos with other dj’s/emcees on projects. I introduced several friends to the art of dj’ing and helped them get exposed to playing out in public, as was presented to me in the past. Oh, remember that first 12″ I ever bought? I found another original mint copy and for sentimental reasons, I traded that copy to Mosquito for the original copy back that I actually bought myself back in ’89. Today, my focus is in several places — creating mix tape projects and distributing it to friends, keeping it low key on the night life scene by spinning for an open-minded group of people in a lounge, flippin’ the script and doing wedding events, getting together with a group of dj’s and having a friendly “Q&A” scratch session, and most recently devoting time to an online hip-hop streaming radio show on Sidewok.com. Oh, and can’t forget: FOREVER DIGGING. Peace to Shaun D., alias Wicked, for keeping me on my toes in the underground scene, that dude’s the “walking hip-hop encyclopedia”. And just so yall know, I was never really into the “commercial radio” scene (it ain’t all bad though). Everyone has their flavor and it’s all good. Mine is the “old skool” and the new good, solid real music of today.
I wrote the following a few years back on a mental picture of hip-hop using real hip-hop artists to describe my taste for hip-hop music:
What is hip-hop? Life, culture, expression, artform, Nas’s
Illmatic album, elevating your mind with a verse from
Supernatural, smokin’ a joint and listening to dj shadow and
cut chemist, gettin’ a prescription from dr. octagon, the
b-boy captivating a frienzied circle of on-lookers like jedi
mind tricks, bombing up the A train, the craabb scratch, a
dj premier or pete rock production, live instrumentation
from The Roots crew, go ask Common Sense, he used to love
H.E.R., gettin’ braggin’ rights like J-Live, Q-bert isn’t
from this planet, jeru said to leave your 9′s at home and
bring ya skillz to the battle, the lyricist lounge, mos def
most definitely, the old school, my addidas with fat laces,
and last but not least, jam master jay, R.I.P..
Popularity: 43% [?]