On Rob Swift’s 2009 DVD release As The Techincs Spin, your looking at a master Turntablist, a walking encyclopedia of the craft. He describes in precise detail how some of his most intricate routines work. But when he puts his hands on the wheels of steel, all the talk in no way prepares you for what you’re about to witness and the only way to truly understand the years of stellar experience he has in his pocket is to sit back, put on your best headphones, and listen to the magic Rob makes.
Always challenging the idea of what Hip Hop is and testing that notion any chance he can get, on his new album The Architect, Rob takes Hip Hop and effortlessly blends it with the genre of Classical music to create an album that acts as the soundtrack to his vision of where Hip Hop can head rather than where it is right now. The Architect also marks Rob Swift’s debut release on Mike Patton’s Ipecac Recordings label, a perfect fit as both men have been challenging the notion of music for years. They have previously toured together promoting Patton’s Peeping Tom project and their collaborative effort General Patton Vs. The X-excutioners. With a history that grabs heavily from jazz, Rob now pushes the boundaries of music even further, championing its limitless possibilities. “Anyone who’s followed my career since my first mix tape in 1995 “Soulful Fruit,” knows that I’ve historically turned to jazz as a way to help convey my ideas as a DJ in the realm of Hip Hop. However, in June of 2008, I was introduced to the genre of classical music and that was a pivotal moment for me as an artist.” His introduction to composers like Mozart, Bach, and Chopin, opened up a whole new musical vocabulary for Rob. He became an eager student of the genre, soaking up as much knowledge as he could and while recording The Architect, he saw parallels between building his own compositions and those of classical composers. So he began thinking in terms of “what would composers like Chopin and Bach do if scratching existed back in their time?” Staying true to this question, sections of the album are arranged in movements. Rob explains, “As I was composing songs like “Rabia” and “Lower Level” I found myself scratching sounds that would become thematic and reintroduced throughout the album in different ways.” With only one MC as a special guest on The Architect, Breez Evahflowin, who brilliantly rhymes about the album’s concept on tracks “Principio” and “Ultimo,” Rob predominantly uses the turntable to build compositions that express his creative state of mind via the careful placement of cuts and scratches of symphonic like instruments.
Hip Hop purists will appreciate the chances Rob Swift has taken on The Architect, while music lovers will see that the genre of Turntablism and classical music have more in common than anyone ever thought. As for DJ Rob Swift fans? His musical evolution cannot be denied. No matter what, at the end of the day, the listeners will know the turntable is his microphone.
Having got his start as a DJ at age 12 from watching his father DJ meringue parties and older brother showing him the ropes, Robert Aguilar AKA Rob Swift pursued his love for music and joined the groundbreaking turntablist crew the X-Men aka X-ecutioners (Roc Raida, Total Eclipse, and Mista Sinista) in 1991. Within a year of joining the X, he won the coveted DMC East Coast title, becoming world renowned as a master beat juggler (a style of turntable manipulation which involves manually rearranging actual drum beats from vinyl in real time). In 2001, Rob Swift was featured in the DJ documentary SCRATCH (Palm Pictures). He has appeared on ESPN, The Late Show with David Letterman, and even Sesame Street. In 2008, Rob was the first Hip Hop DJ invited to perform at the Savannah, Georgia Jazz Festival. He has collaborated with artists from many genres including Blue Man Group, Herbie Hancock, Bob James, Linkin Park, Good Charlotte, Dan The Automator, Fat Joe, Cypress Hill and many others. Whether working solo, in a group setting as part of Ill Insanity (featuring former X-Men Total Eclipse and Precision) or collaborating with other like-minded artists, Rob Swift is always in perpetual motion, pushing the boundaries of what he does and connecting with audiences by all means necessary.