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Legions of boom - Filipino American mobile DJ crews of the San Francisco Bay Area
Oliver Wang
Paperback / softback
Duke University Press
UK Publication Date

Armed with speakers, turntables, light systems, and records, Filipino American mobile DJ crews, such as Ultimate Creations, Spintronix, and Images, Inc., rocked dance floors throughout the San Francisco Bay Area from the late 1970s through the mid-1990s. In Legions of Boom noted music and pop culture writer and scholar Oliver Wang chronicles this remarkable scene that eventually became the cradle for turntablism. These crews, which were instrumental in helping to create and unify the Bay Area's Filipino American community, gave young men opportunities to assert their masculinity and gain social status. While crews regularly spun records for school dances, weddings, birthdays, or garage parties, the scene's centerpieces were showcases-or multi-crew performances-which drew crowds of hundreds, or even thousands. By the mid-1990s the scene was in decline, as single DJs became popular, recruitment to crews fell off, and aspiring scratch DJs branched off into their own scene. As the training ground for a generation of DJs, including DJ Q-Bert, Shortkut, and Mix Master Mike, the mobile scene left an indelible mark on its community that eventually grew to have a global impact.

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Oliver Wang is Associate Professor of Sociology at California State University, Long Beach. He is the editor of Classic Material: The Hip-Hop Album Guide and has written for NPR, Vibe, Wax Poetics, the Los Angeles Times, the Oakland Tribune, and the Village Voice, amongst others.

"Wang's account strikes a careful balance between oral history and analysis, grounded in ethnography while also working to interpret and elaborate the significance of the story. … [W]ith an annotated oral history at its core, Legions Of Boom is centred on the words of the scene's participants and Wang's insightful perspectives as a scholar, a journalist and a DJ."

The Wire - Wayne Marshall

"It's not easy to write a book that works both as an academic text and is readily accessible to the general public, but Wang does an excellent job walking that line with Legions of Boom. His research is great, and he explains things in a way that is very easy to digest. I couldn't recommend this book enough."

Scratched Vinyl - Chi Chi

"This highly readable book significantly advances our understandings of music scenes and their symbiotic relationship with marginalized communities of youth. Since historically Filipino Americans have been excluded from U.S. racial/ethnic discourse, Wang does sociology a tremendous service in shining further light on a key aspect of this important group's history."

American Journal of Sociology - Anthony Kwame Harrison

"The greatest strength of Wang's work, above and beyond providing important historical documentation of a neglected musical scene, is that he offers a sophisticated theoretical analysis that highlights how social class, gender, and ethnicity structure the distribution of various types of capital (symbolic, erotic, cultural, economic) within mobile DJing."

Contemporary Sociology - Athena Elafros

"Wang writes in an accessible style appealing to both scholars and casual readers.... Legions of Boom is a substantial work that shines light on yet another example of a musical genre's relation to the formation and maintenance of cultural identities."

Perfect Beat - Niel Scobie

Keyword Index
Filipino American youth - California - San Francisco Bay Area - Music - History - 20th century.|Filipino Americans - California - San Francisco Bay Area - Ethnic identity.|Disc jockeys - California - San Francisco Bay Area - History - 20th century.
Country of Publication
North Carolina
Number of Pages

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