Da Almighty DJ E.L. Interview (
Adam Bernard
We've all seen the scene from "Juice." DJ GQ, played by a young Omar Epps, is

on a raised platform going one on one against another DJ, scratch for scratch, 

movement for movement. When it comes to being a battle DJ, Da Almighty 

DJ E.L. feels "that would be a good starting point but from there it's kinda evolved." 

He continued "a good reference as far as having a good view on it nowadays would 

be the documentary called 'Scratch,' which outlines the origins of the word scratch 

and how that element came into DJing. In 'Juice' the battle element was Omar Epps' 

character with the mixing and the cutting while nowadays there's no limit to what a 

person will do with a turntable."

What a person will do with a turntable is something E.L. is constantly working on 

elevating. Rated as one of the top battle DJ's in the U.S., E.L. has been involved in 

some of the biggest competitions in the country and was even called on to be 

interviewed for a New York Times article on DJing around the time the "Scratch" 

DVD was being released. Born and raised in New Britain, CT, E.L. has been 

consistently ranked as the top battle DJ in the state.

So what's the difference between a battle DJ and a regular DJ? "A battle DJ is more 

on skill, showmanship, stage presence, all of those elements combined," he explained, 

adding "a radio or club DJ is about mixing, and keeping your listeners entertained."

Battle DJ's also have competitions, much like MC battles, except with turntables. 

DMC, Kool Mixx, Guitar Center / Vestax, Import Xpression, the International 

Turntable Federation, and the invite-only All-Star Beatdown put on by The Allies are 

the most highly regarded battles. E.L. says they're the battles "we'd count as a gauge 

between ourselves."

Becoming a battle DJ certainly doesn't happen overnight. DJ E.L.'s trip began when he 

was trying to get involved in another aspect of Hip-Hop culture. "I started out as a 

rapper but there was a friend of mine when I started college, Lamont Coleman, rest in

peace, he was actually the first one who taught me how to scratch on Run DMC's

'Peter Piper,' and after that I just ran with it." from that point on he's been completely self-taught.

Music, in a way, has always been in E.L.'s blood. His father was in the Swans of New England, 

a funk band that opened for many of the top acts when they were in-state, and E.L.'s second 

cousin,Tyrone Lampkin, was the drummer for Parliament.

From that upbringing he has become, according to the DJ Dini Ranking, the top battle DJ in CT, 

and one of the top battle DJ's in the country. "I know there are people that will disagree that I'm 

CT's number one battle DJ but if you look around I consistently place and there's no one else from

 CT there. I'm sure there are a lot of DJ's who may be good. All I say is go out there and show what 

you have, don't be afraid to compete. There are many websites out there, and forums. A lot of colleges

hold battles."

Another thing colleges have are radio stations. E.L. explains "when I was growing up the only place I heard

Hip-Hop was college radio. That was my aim, I wanted to be on college radio." Despite the birth of commercial

rap radio in CT, E.L. is sticking with college radio, he still has a show on Central Connecticut State University's

radio station and feels it's really the only way to go.


When he spins at Club Static, in Southington, CT, on Friday's and Saturday's he sees exactly what commercial

rap radio is doing to kids. "They think Hip-Hop started in '97 with DMX's album. When I play something  they 

don't hear on the radio they leave the floor." "These kids are programmed, and they need to be deprogrammed."

E.L. actually has some tricks up his sleeve when it comes to deprogramming the kids, including not telling them when

he's playing a local artist so they'll at least listen to the song before deciding if they like it or not.

Being a battle DJ isn't the easiest of gigs, one must constantly work on being at the top of their game and E.L. is no

different. "I practice everyday, before I even go to work I put my headphones on. You justhave to, you never know

when something's gonna pop up. You find out about (competitions) on two, three days notice." Hold up, did he just say

before he goes to work? " I have a master's degree in education, a full time job working at ESPN as a Network Coordinator,

and I'm still a lot better than a lot of DJ's that do it full time."


Unlike a some people currently in the game, DJ E.L. still remembers what Hip-Hop is all about. "I do it for the love, that's

how Hip-Hop started. It wasn't a monetary thing, if you made a living at it that's what you did but you loved your work. Look

at 'Wild Style,' it should be a prerequisite for everyone who's into Hip-Hop to watch that movie. It wasn't scripted. When

Grandmaster Flash's turntables were in his kitchen, they were in his kitchen."


Ham, eggs and vinyl, all part of a DJ's balanced breakfast. Rest assured, if you see DJ E.L.'s turntables in his kitchen he's

probably just cookin' up something good for his next competition.