Meet the Beat

Hip-hop's here. Deal with it. Check the local MCs and DJs moving up from the underground.

Finsta shouts for Charlie Chan, who's out in the crowd, chatting. Charlie nods and slowly makes his way to the stage. Once there, he flips through his record crate, pulls out a few selections and pops one of them on. The music, which has been running without much DJ gymnastics for the past half-hour, is immediately interrupted by the rhythmic scratching of Charlie Chan, who keeps the beat with his fingers, twirling and spinning the records while the blur of fizzed beats battles with his scratching. He's now got copies of the same record on two turntables, both running in the same place, and he's creating an echo that he sustains with his magic fingers by scratching the records backward a spin, keeping the same vocal sample in suspension. Chan's defying gravity, juggling the sample while, incredibly, keeping track of the beat in his head. The crowd moves closer, and people start clapping. Finsta, who's been watching him close-up, moves from being an MC to acting as a color commentator; as Charlie starts getting fancy, Finsta calls the plays: "360!" "Behind the back!" "Under the leg!" "With his nose!" Charlie is on it, the musician in full focus, up in the astral plane on autopilot as his fingers, arms and body work the turntable and inspire the crowd.

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