Boognish > Mr. Dibbs

Who: Mr Dibbs, co-founder of turntablist crew 1200 Hobos.
Where: Over the phone from his home in Ohio.
When: 15 June 1996.

NWSA: Where does the name 1200 Hobos come from?

Dibbs: [long pause] Hobos, like a train hobo, they just ride the train, right? 1200 Hobos just ride the turntables.

NWSA: Who is in the 1200 Hobos?

Dibbs: Just me and DJ Skip.

NWSA: Can you explain how 1200 Hobos go about making a mix tape?

Dibbs: It’s kinda just mixed down, know what I mean. We’ll just sit down and start to work on it. With the Hobo tape – the first Hobo tape – there was a technique in that we’d each have a couple minutes. Everything I was dropping he was topping.

NWSA: What type of equipment do you use?

Dibbs: Four turntables, a sampler and three mixers. That’s about it.

NWSA: Your mix tapes give the impression of a very ecclectic record collection. What records are essetial to you as a DJ?

Dibbs: Jazz. A lot of records that, like, have just little breaks. There might be, like, a three second part in the song.

NWSA: On your first tape you showcased two rappers. Who are they?

Dibbs: Maliki and Damian. They are both in the studio right now. I was the guest DJ and they had an MC battle. Maliki came in first and Damian came in second.

NWSA: Do they have anything available?

Dibbs: Yeah, they should have something out soon.

NWSA: Where do you get all the crazy samples for the 1200 Hobos?

Dibbs: Cartoons, movies, audio tape. It’s all musical. Anything you hear can be musical. A baby crying can be musical. A cat meowing can be musical. It’s what you do with it. It’s not so much what’s on the record but how you play it.

NWSA: I noticed on the latest tape you had a couple of Star Wars samples?

Dibbs: [laughs]

NWSA: I really loved the Creature Canteen…

Dibbs: Oh, you noticed that one.

NWSA: How do you feel about all the exposure you’re getting from Rap Pages?

Dibbs: I loved it, but I’m a bit surprised, real surprised. Avani at Rap Pages hooked it up. I don’t know, he kept putting it in there.

NWSA: Have you got a lot of feedback?

Dibbs: Yeah, man, it kinda snowballed. It all started with Point Blank Magazine. Then Point Blank Magazine hooked me up with Avani at Rap Pages. Now it’s been in, like, ten magazines.

NWSA: In the last Rap Pages they said not to bother sending in DJ mixtapes unless they can compare with 1200 Hobos.

Dibbs: By that time things had kinda slowed down, right. But then everybody started calling again. DJs that wanna buy it to hear the tape. “I can’t send my tape unless…,” you know.

NWSA: How did you get involved in DJing?

Dibbs: It’s kinda weird. It was a Herbie Hancock concert, right? Grandmaster D.ST, he was scratching in concert. I had heard it a little bit on TM Magazine, but they never really detailed it. When I watched the Herbie Hancock concert and D.ST was scratching through the whole show, I actually saw how they did it and that’s what made it, “You know, I’m gonna do that.” I got a turntable and that was probably ’83… late ‘82/’83. I was breaking before that. Breaking died down, and I was already DJing by then so I just kept going with the DJing.

NWSA: It’s amazing how many people were breaking before they did anything else.

Dibbs: Yeah, I think that probably got more than half the people into it, at least half.

NWSA: What do you think is the importance of the DJ in hip hop?

Dibbs: Let me tell you. I think the DJ is hip hop. If it wasn’t for the DJ there would never have been any rappers. You know, the DJ used to supply the beat. It’s only ’89 until now that they started ignoring the DJ where some groups don’t even have a DJ. You know, they do shows off of DAT tapes instead of off the DJ. It didn’t used to be like that; it used to be, like, the DJ. The DJ could be in the front, like Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince. But that will never happen now. The DJ will never be in the front. The DJ gets ignored now.

NWSA: Do you think that for hip hop to keep moving forward they need to put the DJ back in the mix?

Dibbs: Know what I think? I think that – this is kinda shitty – I think that DJs are going to do their own thing whether rappers wanna fuck with it or not. I would hate to see anything die out, any of the parts of the culture, but rappers might eat themselves. DJs will always be around. You know, a turntable is an instrument.

NWSA: Who do you think are the master wizards of the turntables?

Dibbs: Oh, I would say my two favourites would be Grandmaster Flash and Grandmixer D.ST. and then I’d say [The Invisible] Scratch Pickles and the Beat Junkies. I could go on forever. I could keep listing them. The X-Men. Maybe I’ll stop now before – Bullet Proof Scratch Hamsters. You know, there’s plenty of crews and they’re all dope.

NWSA: What do you enjoy more? Would you rather DJ or produce?

Dibbs: I’d rather DJ. People like to break it down to the money, like, well, you don’t make any money cuz you’re not producing. But actually, that’s not what it’s all about, though. I’d rather have the respect from some DJs than some rapper just spitting the shit all over my music.

NWSA: What’s next for 1200 Hobos?

Dibbs: Evolution is the next tape. It’s being worked on now. Skip’s working on his tape, and I’m working on my new tape, too. I’ll have a breakbeat album. It’s called Unearthed, and it’ll probably be out by – hopefully – September.