A DJ bobbed to his beats as his hands worked the controls and spun records at his turntable. Blue light barely illuminated him on the stage decked in black plastic and caution tape.
The front row pressed against the stage sang to 90s pop tunes that DJ T.O. mixed into his varied set as the first act Saturday at the Oil City Battle of the DJs. A rambunctious crowd gravitated to the stage at the Hall of Champions as Casper’s first DJ battle began. Later in the night, the crowd would choose the winner of the battles.
The idea for the show sparked from argument over who was the best local DJ, the show’s emcee Big Murda said.
“So we decided to have a battle,” he added.
Big Murda didn’t care who won, he was just happy for the turnout and a chance to show off Casper’s talent, he added. The DJs asked that their real names not be used in this story because it detracts from their performance.
MC Viruz began his set with some record scratching and a sample of pro wrestlers talking. He scratched records with his elbow or with one hand while he used the other to drink a beer.
“Did you think I would miss this night?” recorded words resonated through the beats as he started his set. “Not for nothing would I miss this night.”
Then Whyte Choc took his place in front of the turntable. He’s been dejaying since he was 15 and often performs at Butch’s Bar, emcee Big Murda said. He was mentored by his fellow competitor DJ Nyke, but developed a different style than most of the other DJs, Big Murda said.
Whyte Choc started by dancing to a hip-hop beat, tossing oversized play money to the crowd.
All the DJs had solid fan bases ready cheer them to victory. DJ Nyke was a favorite to many because of his work as a DJ for the KISS-FM 104.7 radio station.
One of his fans, Edlos Feyhl, said DJ Nyke had a lock on the battle. He’s a veteran DJ who has taught several up-and-comers like Whyte Choc, Feyhl said.
DJ Nyke closed the show with a set based in old-school New York City hip hop.
Deciding the winner proved a daunting task. The DJ who received the largest cheer from the audience was supposed to win, but Emcee Big Murda didn’t want to decide who received the loudest roar. Contestants paraded as the emcee called their names and the fans cheered. It took a few attempts, but eventually the crowd chose DJ Whyte Choc.
The DJ’s set included references to the other DJs — calling them out for being into music for the money, for instance, he said. For him, the show was a statement.
“I’ve been in the shadow so many years that it was kind of nice to show everybody that I’ve been working hard,” he said.
Fans, organizers and performers counted the show a success.
The crowd turned out despite a cold night during the holiday season, said MC Viruz, who helped organize the event. He’s working on plans for another DJ battle next year. The organizers might find experienced judges to determine the winner in that competition, he said.
DJ T.O. said he was happy with the camaraderie among the contestants and other performers, he said.
Attendee Sway Holiday enjoyed the variety of music, like DJ Nyke’s east-coast hip hop influences and Whyte Choc’s unorthodox freestyling that spanned genres from old country to the Beastie Boys. But mostly he enjoyed the atmosphere.
“It’s all for the love of music, and I love it,” he said.
DJ Nyke said he arrived with no expectations since all the DJs had many supporters and he’d never seen their sets before. Above all, he was excited to have a chance to share his art with other DJs, he said.
“I’ve been doing this for 20 years, and I started off as a battle DJ,” he said afterward. “So I love the fact that we were able to even have this competition.”