By Ricardo Raúl Pozos y Garay
Joseph Balistreri, better known to the San Diego hip hop-loving masses as “DJ Backspin”, leads the pack of monster DJs propagating the modern day hip hop movement. In the immense sea of talented DJs that currently exist in the turntablist scene around the world, it is difficult to make a name and identity for yourself. Committed to breaking new artists and serving up genius mixes, DJ Backspin has done far more than just a make a name for himself, he has forever changed the sound of radio in San Diego.
For true lovers of urban Rap and R&B, DJ Backspin needs no introduction. His listenership has been on a steady rise ever since he first burst onto the airwaves nearly two years ago. DJ Backspin got his first break mixing it up live for 98.9 More FM nearly two years ago. Part of a recent, ambitious avant-garde movement taken up by several major city pop stations to switch to an all hip hop format, Tijuana, Mexico’s 98.9 made the switch from its long-established Rock en Español set-up to an all urban Rap set-up, and it’s none the worst for it. DJ Backspin was one of a whole host of DJs hired to guide the station’s new format into the earsand more importantly, heartsof an entirely new listenership.
In no time, DJ Backspin’s innovative; seamless mixes of underground Rap hits and R&B chart-toppers started a tremendous buzz in DJ circles far and wide. Today, DJ Backspin mans the tables of 90.3 FM, Z90’s primetime DJ spot, an arrangement he’s coveted for quite some time now. “It’s one thing being a DJ, and another thing being a DJ with a prime spot on a major radio station hooked up with all the right labels”, said DJ Backspin.
DJ Backspin’s love for hip hop dates back to the early eighties to when he first got his name as a little kid doing the “backspin”, an acrobatic break-dance routine, along with his older brothers. An avid fan of the then burgeoning hip hop movement, DJ Backspin developed early on an appreciation for break-dancing and soon there after DJ’ing to boot. Obviously, the hip hop movement at the time was larger elsewhere, especially in Los Angeles where the now defunct, legendary 1580 AM, KDAY was the first station in the world to undertake an all Rap music format beginning in 1979. LA radio was instrumental in inculcating an ear and love for hip hop in DJ Backspin. “I recall as a kid climbing up a hill with my radio to tune in LA rap stations and wishing I could somehow bring some of that to local radio stations”, explained DJ Backspin.
Evidently DJ Backspin’s dream came true: every Friday and Saturday, DJ Backspin dominates the airwaves for four continuous hours beginning at 7:00 PM. His signature mixing skills strip down urban party favorites and refit them with mesmerizing loops and reverbs, cuts and fades, scratches and backspins…availing himself of both vinyl and CD.
Equally proud of both his Mexican and Italian roots and the hip hop movement he has been entrusted to purvey, DJ Backspin has his eyes set at the top with plans to segue into record production and perhaps even record label marketing or wherever his passion for music takes him. “I love music…I hove hip hop but I just can’t simply be a listener, my love is too deep for that, I have to be involved directly in the music somehow”, explained DJ Backspin. His love for hip hop definitely shows especially on the airwaves at Z90 where you can catch an earful of his infectious, trademark beats and mixesstay tuned!