I got into DJing through my older cousins. We spent afternoons watching DJ battle videos and listening to mixtapes in order to study the craft — until my uncle made my cousin smash his cassette tapes with a hammer because the tapes had curse words on them, lol.
I didn’t grow up thinking DJing was a “Filipino” thing, but found it interesting that the best DJs happened to be Filipino. These DJs, primarily Filipino-American, had kids (like my older cousins) all over the region chasing down parties looking for the perfect beat. Mobile DJ crews in the late 70s/80s/early 90s weren’t limited to Fil-Ams, of course, but in terms of longevity and influence, the Fil-Am DJ community in the Bay was unrivaled. But unless you were a part of the scene, however, chances are you’ve never heard of the it.
Oliver Wang (scholar/professor/writer/gawd) aims to change all that. He recently released “Legions of Boom: Filipino American Mobile DJ Crews in the San Francisco Bay Area” on Duke University Press. Wang explores the cultural and sociological factors that led to the rise and eventual decline of a scene that had an undeniable impact on West Coast hip-hop and dance music. More importantly, the book documents and shares stories of a music scene that’s remarkably flown under the radar all these years.