Sunday, August 26, 2012

History of DJ Mista Sinista


As an 11 year old , Mista Sinista’s first influence was the sound of his father (a DJ) spinning old breaks in his house. Naturally interested in the art form, the Hip-Hop sounds of Mr. Magic and Kool DJ Red Alert (on New York’s WBLS and KISS FM), soon captivated the Queens, NY youngster. In February of 1986, Mista Sinista finally saved up enough to get a set of his own Technics turntables, and spent the next few years practicing religiously. Mastering the aspects of scratching and mixing was an obsession, as the young deejay honed his skills. In the summer of 1991, Sinista met Dr. Butcher, a legendary Hip-Hop deejay, who was also from Queens.

Asking Mista Sinista about the importance of this relationship, he replied, “Dr. Butcher had skills that were far in advance of anybody I knew at the time”. His new-found mentor took Sinista under his wing and taught him the art of turntablism. With Dr. Butcher’s teaching, Mista Sinista’s skills started to greatly evolve.

In July 1992, when Rob Swift (another student of Dr. Butcher) entered the Northeast DMC Finals, Sinista was on stage aiding him. Rob placed first and Sinista was able to witness first hand what a battle routine was all about. Inspired, Mista Sinista who was by now a member of The X-men, started competing the following year. Coming in as runner up in the 1993 New Music Seminar Battle, and also in the Northeast DMC Finals, Sinista attracted a lot of industry attention. Sinista’s controversial DMC performance (which included the classic “Method Man” routine) soon led to gigs cutting for and touring the world with Common and The Beatnuts.

Throughout the next couple of years, he gained a reputation for being one of the best tour and scratch deejays in the world (check Common’s “Resurrection” LP for some of the best cuts ever recorded on a Hip-Hop album). His work was also highlighted onFat Joe’s sophomore release, “Jealous One’s Envy.”

In 1996, Mista Sinista returned to the DMC and took the DMC East Coast title. He also continued his studio work, recording with Al' Tariq of the Beatnuts and his good friend Kukoo. The following year, Sinista rejoined forces with Common for a few tracks on his new album, “One Day It'll All Make Sense". With touring and studio projects in abundance already, Mista Sinista began to partake in the recording of the X-ecutioner’s debut album “X-Pressions” on Asphodel Records. Around the time of this release, some of the X-Men working on X-Pressions, including Sinista, renamed themselves the X-ecutioners. (Historical note: Not all of the X-ecutioners were originally X-Men and many of the X-Men did not become X-ecutioners).

With the critical success of this album, as well as the growing buzz of the crew, the X-ecutioners secured a recording deal on Loud/Sony. “Built For Scratch” was finally released in February 2002, and was viewed as a groundbreaking album for turntablism. Soon after, Mista Sinista left the group to pursue several ventures, including his own solo debut album.

The Mista Sinista’s debut album, “Heartfelt” was released in 2006. This LP will showcases Mista Sinista’s creativity and ability to experiment, successfully, with several genres of music. According to Mista Sinista, “There is something on it for everyone, and the project itself is heartfelt”. The album features joint efforts with some of Hip-Hop’s best emcees and DJs, as well as several cross-genre music collaborations. This seminal release further raises the bar and pushes turntablism toward new heights of creativity.

Scratching & Beat Juggling

A scratch is the sound created when you move a record back and forth.

This technique was created by Grand Wizard Theodore back in the mid-'70s. Learning how to scratch will allow you to enhance the music your audience is listening to. It's like adding vocals to a funky beat. But instead of speaking with your lips, you're using your hands. Believe it or not, you can teach yourself a lot of different scratches, but you need a good ear. Hopefully, you've developed that ear during the mixing stage. It helps to understand the type of music you're scratching to. Listen to songs from all genres, Hip Hop, Electronic, etc. It's important to learn how to perform scratches that compliment the type of music you decide to play. With enough dedication and practice, you'll eventually develop your own unique style. Completion of this level means your worthy of another pat on the back. You just went from crawling to walking. The next stage is Beat Juggling, otherwise known as "The Funk".

You're about to start running now!

Created by Steve Dee
 in the late '80s, beat juggling is accomplished by manipulating the drums sounds from two copies of the same (or different) record to form a new beat in real-time, using only vinyl, your mixer and your hands. It takes a keen ear, a sharp sense of timing and bar structure awareness.

Think of it as the ability to simultaneously mix and scratch. It's the most intense skill out of the three (mixing, scratching and beat juggling) because it requires constant manipulation of the mixer and turntables. When you're beat juggling, a second doesn't go by where your hands aren't busy.

Once you learn how to beat juggle, you can consider yourself a well-rounded turntablist.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Remembering Roc Raida

Fellow X-Ecutioner Rob Swift put together a project dedicated to the legendary DJ in honor of his untimely passing. Check out what Swift has to say about the Roc for Raida mixtape below and watch the video recorded at the listening party, which prominently features some touching words from DJ Mista Sinista on his late friend/idol.
Roc for Raida is a collection of songs (some unreleased) and battle style routines that defined Roc Raida the artist. I also recorded original scratch/beat juggle compositions dedicated to Raida. In addition to the assortment of music, I included what I thought were lost interview archives (courtesy of John Carluccio) which take you, the listener, into the hearts and minds of X-men’s Steve D, myself and of course the man of the hour, Roc Raida. I’m happy to say, Mista Sinista, Precision and Total Eclipse also make cameos paying tribute to some of our favorite Roc Raida battle sets.

Monday, August 6, 2012

DJ Battle


And the winner is...

Sunday, August 5, 2012

DJ Mista Sinista in Japan

Mista Sinista and the X-ecutioners

Formed as a DJ crew in the early nineties and originally including 11 members, under the name X-Men, which was chosen partly because of their rivalry between Super DJ Clark Kent's crew of DJs, known as the Supermen, and partly after the Marvel Comics characters, but had to change their name due to trademark infringement.

After the group's name changed, the crew was later reduced to members Rob Swift, Roc Raida, Total Eclipse, and Mista Sinista (named after the Marvel Comics' Mister Sinister) before releasing their debut album X-Pressions. Sinista later left the group shortly after the release of Built From Scratch, and Rob Swift left the group for personal and artistic reasons in 2005.

The X-Ecutioners have worked with many famous artists on their albums Built From Scratch and Revolutions and are highly respected in hip hop for their turntable skills, being infamous for the technique known as beat juggling. They have been known to do numerous collaborations, ranging from Kool G Rap to Cypress Hill, Mike Shinoda and co-released an album with Mike Patton called General Patton vs. The X-ecutioners. The X-Ecutioners contributed to a remix of Run DMC's "King of Rock" on the Harmonix game Amplitude, and the DJ group's song "Like This" was featured in the video game SSx 3.

In a recent interview with E.Zee Radio (, Mista Sinista says the current X-Men are Rob Swift, Mista Sinista, Total Eclipse, Boogie Blind, Steve D, Sean C, Johnny Cash, Diamond J, Exotic E + Roc Raida who will always be there.

Roc Raida died on Sept. 19th, 2009 from complications from training in Krav Maga.