DJ Lorne’s ‘Sonic Youth’ mixtape as a gateway to the early 2000s Philly dnb scene
So the other day, I remembered that my mom got me a Walkman-like device that promised to convert cassette tapes into digital audio. You’re even able to plug a USB stick directly into the device, press Play on the tape, and get a digital recording (it works, but the device brings in everything, including the annoying AF screech sound when the gears moved). See, I have a set of tapes on my desk, stacked near my keyboard, in hopes that at some point I will find a way to digitize them without losing audio quality/being hindered by ancient technology, because I have my eyes on a few tapes in particular from the Sutpen’s Jungle era of the Philadelphia drum & bass scene that aren’t on the internet and need to be in my possession. This is how I happened on DJ Lorne’s Sonic Youth mixtape, which encapsulates exactly what it was being a Philly dnb kid in the early 2000s.
Who is DJ Lorne?
While I likely had heard DJ Starchild mention DJ Lorne during his Camouflage show on WPRB 103.3 in Princeton, New Jersey, I may not have heard Lorne spin until I hit Sutpen’s Jungle on February 26, 2000, at the Electric Factory in Philly. I went with my college roommate, and knew that heads from the AOL Ravers/Rave On chat were going to be in the venue. Lorne’s set was later in the night, and he rinsed a lot of jungle. I didn’t remember it that night, but when I got my hands on the DJ Dara / DJ Lorne cassette from Sutpen’s Jungle (which I still own), I remember it being early morning hours when Lorne got on. [Ed note: This also prompted me to upload Lorne’s set from that Sutpen’s Jungle event to the internet; more on that concept later.]
I used to see Lorne a lot in the Philly dnb scene after the February 2000 Sutpen’s; I remember chilling in the city and grabbing Sonic Youth from a really random record shop. I feel like they had house playing. I also vaguely remember showing up to a spot and seeing Lorne spin house; I’d only know of him spinning jungle and drum & bass, but a lot of the Philly cats ended up spinning house at some point, it seemed. I’m not surprised, because Sonic Youth was brimming with diversity.
DJ Lorne: Musical Youth
Lorne was the kind of DJ throwing the entire acapella for Gangstarr’s Nice & Smooth collaboration “DWYCK” over Roni Size and DJ Die’s “Simon Says” remix instrumental and Total Science’s “Champion Sound” remix. He was throwing in Congo Natty white labels and reggae-leaning sounds, but also has impeccable moments like hearing Mary J. Blige’s “Real Love” acapella ascending over Future Cut’s “Whiplash”. There are some tremendous moments alongside some real playful turntablism. Nothing too Q-Bert-y, but lots of bouncing between two versions of a fire amen rhythm. Lorne took the hip-hop and dancehall DJ sensibilities, and applied them to the drum & bass scene, finding ample opportunity to reimagine or infuse a new genre or style in a drum & bass vein. It’s more than just matching two beats, and perfectly showcased why Lorne was such a fun DJ. It was the Substitution way, tbh. [Ed note: Peace to their website still being up.]
The above YouTube embed is one of the only places I’ve been able to find audio for this tape, and around the 38 minute mark (which marks roughly the end of Side A and the continuation into Side B), it sounds warped, like a different mixtape entirely bled into Sonic Youth‘s feed. I was actually trying to work on a tracklist, which took me back to the days where I was a lonely junglist, waiting for the opportunity to start talking about this music properly. The tape being distorted like this is a gut-punch, but also makes me more determined than ever to figure out a better way to digitize my copy, of which I’m unsure of how great its quality is.
Either way, it did prompt me to get some scans of the Sonic Youth cover (above) and the inside shout outs, which feature love to the Substitution Kru, legends like Brockie, L Double and the Formation camp, Goodie Goodie (who helped put on Sutpen’s Jungle), and the junglist massive in Philly and worldwide.
I’m not sure this tape has been scanned anywhere before. I’m going to see about properly digitizing it. Lorne crafted a heater here, full of the energy of the vibrant Philly drum & bass scene at the time. Dope time capsule of what he and the Substitution crew were doing. All of the memories, which include these tape scans. I just scanned them with my Canon all-in-one, but figured some completest would like it. And that is how Lorne’s Sonic Youth tape made it to Discogs.