DJ Skip Ripkin Hooked on Hookah, 124 E. Cheyenne Road Thursdays, 10 p.m. $5; call 630-7024 for more.
To hip-hop outsiders, a DJ appears simply to be playing records. But to those in the know, turntablism is the art of mixing beats, taking various songs and combining them into something new.
Locally, DJ Skip Ripkin is a master mixer. He's been hosting regular Thursday night shows at Hooked on Hookah, blending lounge, down-tempo, hip-hop beats and funk, since last winter. But he's been on the scene a lot longer.
"I used to spin jungle at The Underground [in the late 1990s]. And the first half of the night was jungle and breakbeats, and the second half was hip-hop. I would do the transition from jungle to hip-hop, because I played both," says Ripkin.
He came to the tables by way of the dance floor, and still teaches breakdancing. Though he started spinning at 18, admittedly late, he learned quickly and soon was the DJ for local hip-hop group Accumen. He's taken second at two DJ battles in the Springs, but didn't fare as well in Denver.
"I wouldn't really put together a lot of battle stuff, since a lot of my stuff is freestyle," he says. "I'd throw it together the night before, come up with, like, eight battle sets and try to go battle, which is the wrong way to go."
As with any instrument, which the turntable is finally considered to be, the player must practice, practice, practice. For Ripkin, who uses other people's beats, that means developing new scratching techniques and finding rare albums.
"I try to play things people will recognize, but also things they wouldn't hear anywhere else."