Gulf Today

A nine-year-old girl rocks Dubai spinning turntables

Michelle Rasul, the turntable whiz from Azerbaijan, nodded her baseball capadorned head to the beat and showed off her skills scratching, cuting and fading

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Michelle Rasul had just learned to read and write and was already spinning turntables, scratching hip-hop records and making the beats drop. Four years later, at the age of 9, she’s one of the world’s top DJS and competed in this year’s global championsh­ip. At her home in the skyscraper-studded city of Dubai, the turntable whiz from Azerbaijan nodded her baseball cap-adorned head to the beat and showed off her skills scratching, cuting and fading. Her tiny fingers flew across the turntable as she created a sizzling landscape of electric audio effects and recalled how she got her start as a child turntable celebrity — which, in fact, wasn’t all that long ago.

“I looked at my dad while he was practising Dj-ing and I saw him and was like, ‘Wow, is he doing magic or something? He’s a real magician, bro!’” Michelle told The Associated Press earlier this week, bubbling with enthusiasm. “When I turned 5 on my birthday, I told him, ‘Dad, I want to be a world-famous DJ. I’m going to start practising.’”

As though recounting a decades-long career, she grinned and added: “And the rest is history.” Michelle, the youngest-ever contestant in the DMC World DJ Championsh­ip, ranked 14th out of 85 DJ stars from around the world in the “Portablist” category this year, the global portable scratch competitio­n. The 2021 competitio­n was held online due to the coronaviru­s pandemic. Although she didn’t advance to the next round this time, she’s determined to beat her father, Vagif “DJ Shock” Rasulov, a profession­al who taught her the tricks of the trade and made 9th this year, in next year’s competitio­n.

“I love competing in batles, I just love Dj-ing,” she said. “It’s my passion.” Turntablin­g, which burst onto the music scene from hip-hop artists in the late 1970s, can look like a basic act – taking a record, puting the needle down and sliding it back and forth with one’s fingertips. But for the wizards, it’s an art form, involving spontaneou­s sound mixing and advanced techniques like quick, rhythmic scratches and “crabs,” rubbing the record under the needle. From the moment her parents gave her a mini DJ starter kit, they recognised her extraordin­ary abilities. Even as a baby, she was fascinated and would punch all the butons on her father’s equipment.

“She just catches things so fast,” said her mother Sadia Rasulova, a former violinist who also encouraged Michelle’s love of music. “I realised that she’s a star, that she’s really talented.” When her peers were listening to nursery rhymes, or as she put it, “’Baby Shark’ stuff or ABC songs,” Michelle said she was hooked on rap legends like Tupac Shakur, Chuck D, Jay-z, the Notorious B.I.G. and Michael Jackson, who remains her favourite. Her parents started posting footage of her scratching online, and Michelle’s popularity exploded. Her Instagram account and persona as the self-described “youngest DJ in the world,” has racked up 110,000 followers. Online messages from aspiring DJS ages 6 to 65 poured in from around the globe, she said.

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 ?? Associated Press ?? Top: Michelle Rasul flashes a rockstar sign in the lobby of her building in Dubai.
Michelle Rasul plays the piano in the lobby .
Associated Press Top: Michelle Rasul flashes a rockstar sign in the lobby of her building in Dubai. Michelle Rasul plays the piano in the lobby .
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