A film about Northwest hip-hop from

Cut It Up Whiz

During this early rap era, a few armed forces assignments had a notable impact on Northwest hip-hop. (This was how Chilly Uptown arrived on the scene from Chicago.) Turntable scratcher and producer Whiz Kid similarly found himself living in ‘80s Tacoma after his military wife was posted to McChord AFB.

When he arrived here in the PNW, Harold “Whiz Kid” McQuire was already a pretty big deal: He’d famously beaten DJ Jazzy Jeff in a turntable battle in 1982 and toured the world with Zulu Nation. Shortly after his arrival in Tacoma, he leveraged his hometown NYC connections to land a hit single—“Play That Beat Mr. DJ”—on Tommy Boy Records. His swift cutting and scratching debut sold more than 250,000 copies, and so he became an adopted hometown hero.

NastyMix then added Whiz Kid to their roster for his second single, “Cut It Up Whiz,” featured here. No doubt the signing of this Bronx-born DJ added additional rap legitimacy to the young label’s expanding lineup.

On this single, the scratch deejay’s skills on the decks are top-notch: There’s no Serato here to lean on. The beat he lays down is curious, as though there’s an extra bar added here and there, the loop never quite resolving but always keeping your attention. I can’t find anything about featured rapper YSL, but at one point his lyrics imply he’s perhaps from Atlanta.

The B-side cut “Kick The Bass” takes a little time to get grooving but catches an undeliverable wave the longer it runs. This ain’t headphones music. Spin this superb single on some loud speakers the way it was designed to be heard.

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