Music » Music Stories & Interviews

Battle Sounds



May 29, 2009, will go down as a historic, albeit bittersweet day for hip-hop in the Alamo City. This was the Friday that the DMC, the granddaddy of all DJ battles, finally came to town for the inaugural San Antonio, Texas, DMC Southwest Regional. After an inspired night of cutting and scratching from a field of hungry turntablists, New Mexico’s DJ Ohm emerged as the champion.

“This is the way it should be,” says DJ Donnie Dee, the host for the event and person most responsible for bringing the DMC to San Anto. “This is not Randy’s Barbeque DJ battle-slash-chili cook-off. This is not a car-show battle. This is none of that dumb shit. This is the DMC official DJ battle.”

One of the reccurring themes of the evening was the demise of Power 106.7, one of San Antonio’s two corporate hip-hop stations, which had taken place earlier that day. Folks tuning in that morning to get their daily fix of Big Boy’s Neighborhood were greeted by Christmas music in May. According to the Cox-owned station, the holiday tunes were merely a stunt to call attention to their format change to talk radio. The switch was supposedly made to cut costs and better complement the company’s roster of San Antonio radio stations.

“I was on Power 106 for two-and-a-half years,” says Donnie Dee, who mixed the station’s noon old-school throwback show, regarded by many as the best half-hour on local radio. “I was there when it started. They’ll say the sales wasn’t there or we wasn’t making enough money or anything like that, but you know me, I’m not stupid.”

“It was just stupid decisions being made at that radio station for me to actually see that it couldn’t last that long,” adds Donnie. “I don’t think they knew how to really grasp ahold of what they had. I don’t think they really grasped on to the fact that that station was a part of people’s lives, and people latched onto it. I don’t think they really cared.”

For San Antonio hip-hop heads who still haven’t transitioned to satellite radio, none of this is new. Corporate hip-hop stations are often out of touch with the communities they are supposed to serve, and the local scene has never truly recovered from the loss of highly influential KSJL 96.1 in 1998. In many ways, 106.7’s defection feels like the hip-hop equivalent of losing the San Antonio Light and becoming a one daily-newspaper town.

One of the few bright spots left on the dial is Super Soul Saturday with Donnie Dee and Scuba Gooding, which broadcasts at 9 p.m. via college radio KRTU. Heads can also take solace in the fact that more diverse hip-hop shows are now making their way to the Alamo City, including T.I., Slick Rick, Mr. Lif, and Lil Wayne in recent months, and signs look positive for the DMC returning next year. The loss of Power 106, however, is one more obstacle for those still struggling for recognition in the local scene.

“Hip-hop is definitely here in San Antonio, but I think it’s overshadowed a lot being compared to other big cities, just in Texas alone,” says former DMC US champion and Chicago native DJ Kiko. “San Antonio, I think, even now will always be overshadowed by that. From the time that I moved here six years ago until now, there’s been a growth in the scene for sure. As far as where the DJs fit into that, it’s not really clicked yet. … I think we need to get the DJ scene to its higher level or expectation to kind of see it as one of the elements, especially here. I don’t really see that yet.”

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