DJ Rhys B represented New Zealand at the 1990 DMC World DJ Championships at the Hammersmith Palais in London… and met Tupac Shakur
I was only 20, so it was a big experience for me. I competed in the first New Zealand DMC Final at The Gluepot - competition was tough, but I took it out. The prize was a trip to London to compete in the World DJ Championships.
I travelled with Simon Grigg who ran the DMC competition in New Zealand, and it was my first time in the Northern Hemisphere. I was excited to be the first Maori DMC champion to represent Aotearoa in an international DJ competition.
It was a bit overwhelming at first, especially in the elimination round when you'd see all these other competitors that you'd read about. DJ Dave from Germany - he won the competition that year, the Japanese guy DJ Yoshi, the Italian guy Francesco Zappala, the American champion was Baby G - there were heaps of big names.
I had Twin Hype in my set - a song called 'Do it to the Crowd' - and I used 'Jam Master Jay' by Run-D.M.C., I had a couple of 12-inches of those.
It was more back-to-back and scratching and body tricks in the early '90s. The DMC is a six-minute competition and they want to see all-around DJ skills, scratching, beat-juggling and beat-mixing, all in one package. There were 23 competitors in the eliminations and they chose 10. I came 12th, and I'm proud of that. It was a very eye-opening experience and I'm lucky to have had it.
This is probably when the DMC competition was at its height, and lots of people played. I met A Tribe Called Quest, Boo-Yaa T.R.I.B.E. - I went to McDonald's with them and they were real cool. Public Enemy and Professor Griff were there, Inner City, 3rd Bass, Digital Underground. That's where I met Tupac - he was a dancer for Digital Underground, and it was funny because everyone was around Shock G 'cause he was the star of the show, and just to the side was Tupac and their DJ, Money-B.
This is before Tupac had the tattoos and stuff. I just walked up to him and introduced myself: 'Hi, I'm Rhys B from New Zealand'. I was pretty starstruck with some of those people but I figured I wasn't going to get an opportunity like that again. I just did the New Zealand thing, walked up and said, 'Gidday, mate - how's it going?'
What: 1990 DMC World DJ Championships
Where: Hammersmith Palais, London
When: March 20, 1990