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To most Americans – at least those with basic cable – DJ Skribble is America’ most visible DJ, spinning next to Carson Daly on MTV’ “Total Request Live” or holding down the decks on “MTV’ Spring Break.” In the cred-sensitive world of deejaying, being, “the MTV guy” would seem a dubious honor. But at least Skribble has his high-profile in perspective. “Every DJ has a day job so they can play clubs and raves at night. Mine just happens to be MTV,” he says. And despite the fact that it’ his MTV gigs that have made him a household name over the last few years, it’ his deep roots in the underground dance scene where Skribble made his name in the first place.
Born Scott Iacacci in Jamaica, Queens, Skribble got his nickname for his drawing talents, but traded in his colored pencils for turntables while still in grade school. A the neighborhood’ pre-teen DJ Prodigy, he got his first set of turntables at age 11. By the time he was 14, Skribble was one of New York’ youngest working jocks. Like fellow New York rave legends Frankie Bones and Lenny Dee, Skribble started deejaying at the one place a DJ in the early mid ’80s could get a gig-the roller rink. As luck would have it, the “Roller Castle” was also being frequented by the pre-Public Enemy Chuck D, as well as the pre-“Yo! MTV Raps” Dr. Dre. They were so impressed, they invited Skribble to play on their college radio show. Chuck D soon asked Skribble to join his protege hip-hop group Young Black Teenagers.
While other young DJs were listening to Public Enemy, Skribble was touring with them. YBT opened up Public Enemy’ landmark 1991 tour with heavy metal group Anthrax. Skribble would man the turntables when the two headliners would team up for their version of the PE classic “Bring The Noise.” “This was years before the whole DJ-in-a-rock band thing,” he says with a laugh. After the group’ disbanded in 1993, Skribble spent the next few years “alone, scared and crazy. I was playing anywhere I could.” “Anywhere” meant playing the openings of Checkers restaurants all across New Jersey, where he often found himself DJing for Biggie Smalls and Craig Mack, who were likewise on the restaurant-grand-opening circuit with the then-unknown Sean “Puffy” Combs.
By the mid ‘90s, his old friend Dr. Dre, now co-hosting New York’ Hot 97 morning show with Ed Lover, tipped him off that Glen Frisha’ famed “Saturday Night Dance Party” on Hot 97 needed a DJ to spin live from clubs. Skribble jumped at the chance. He teamed up with New York hard house legend Peter “Razor” Osbeck to do the show. “I had all old school house records—Todd Terry, all the great New York stuff. But I was hip-hop, so it was all new to me. Then I went to clubs and got turned onto a whole other world,” Skribble says. “I wanted to be the first DJ to be able to do hip-hop and house.” As a hip-hop jock breaking into house, he had to work twice as hard. “Nobody would give me the time of day,” Skribble sighs. “But people like Hex Hector and Junior Vasquez gave me the respect, because they could see I was really serious about spinning house.”
In 1996, he teamed up with fellow hard house paisan Anthony Acid as a remix production team. The pair soon launched two mix disc series: MDMA, showcasing, as Skribble puts it, “very New York/progressive club stuff,” as well as their Traffic Jams hip-hop compilations. The pair have since become a venerable remix production team, turning out, most famously, last year’ slamming mix of Pink’ “Most Girls.” 1996 was also the year Skribble met Johnny Vicious. “I went to see Danny Tenaglia at Twilo one night and he played this remix of Pink Floyd’ ‘The Wall,’” Skribble recalls. “I found out Johnny had done it. So me and Razor just went to his house to ask for the record, we just hit it off.”
Skribble and Vicious became fixtures on the American party scene, tag-teaming, most notably at Denver’ legendary Element raves and opening for The Chemical Brothers at New York’ Roxy in 1998.
Between his still-busy rave/club schedule and his MTV profile, Skribble was an obvious choice to be one of the first American DJs to do an Essential Mix, which resulted in the Fall 2000 release of the admittedly anthem-heavy Essential Mix DJ Skribble. “That was this do-what-you-gotta-do, commercial-introduction thing,” he says. His dues paid, he’ now ready to release Essential Spring Break – Summer 2001. “With the new record, I feel like I’m moving to where the Essential discs are in Europe as far as still having that underground sensibility,” he says. “For me, it’ all about educating the American scene.”
With tracks ranging from chart favorites like Darude’ “Sandstorm” to the soon-to-be-classic opener, Afro Medusa’ stunning “Pasilda,” Essential Spring Break – Summer 2001 “It’ like a whole club night in a little over an hour,” Skribble explains. “It starts out with funky disco, then tribal progressive, then some vocals, then progressive into trance—which is exactly how I do my night. I call it the ‘hifting gears mix.’”
If anything, taking heat for being “the MTV guy” has only strengthened his resolve to prove himself and his music to clubbers and MTV kids alike. “Look, there’ a lot of people on TV that DJ, and they’re like, whatever. But being on MTV, I know I can bring real progressive music to more people,” Skribble says. “I’ve had to fight some battles to play what I want. But MTV knows I’m in clubs all over the country five nights a week, too.” Now with Essential Spring Break – Summer 2001, the rest of us will, too.