Top Game

Pictured: Erik recording Babu’s set for RBMA Radio in the Brewery Studios.

A week or two ago I interviewed Babu, a Filipino-American producer and turntablist best known for his work with Dilated Peoples and the Beat Junkies, who was in town to promote his new album Duck Season Vol 3.

The Beat Junkies released some bangin hip hop mixtapes back in the day that me and my friend Emi-chan loved, informed by an understanding of the breakbeat that stretches into hemispheres and rhythm structures from Clyde Stubblefield and David Matthews to Iranian rare grooves. Along with other crate diggers like Cut Chemist and Egon, they’re like some kind of west coast hip hop intelligentsia.

I’ve always found that crew to be impeccably polite and engaging, but with his buddha-like good looks and stoic expression, Babu has always seemed a bit less approachable than the others. And since I hardly possess nerd-level knowledge of rare funk and soul 45s, I asked my workmate Davide (who used to be editor of Juice) to contribute a few questions for my notebook.

Davide’s questions were pretty much the same as the ones I had scribbled down already: general, open-ended queries about how Babu put together the line up of guest features on the album, and how he saw the state of turntablism nowadays.

On-mic Babu turned out to be as classy and professional an interview subject as you could hope for. He spoke about the challenges of being a producer: how if MCs are working with someone like Dre they’ll automatically bring their top game, but the rest of the time you have to challenge them to step to the plate. (You can hear the recording of the interview soon on RBMA Radio.)

Interviewing renowned crate diggers might not be as hard as I thought – OK, it’s not like we talked about the rarest platters from Sao Paulo’s Galerias, but still, Babu didn’t have to be challenged to give thoughtful, entertaining answers. When you have an album to promote, it’s all part of the game, but it was a pleasure all the same.


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