Legions of Boom

Filipino American Mobile DJ Crews
in the San Francisco Bay Area

By Oliver Wang
Published by Duke University Press (Refiguring American Music)

Armed with speakers, turntables, light systems, and records, Filipino American mobile DJ crews rocked dance floors throughout the San Francisco Bay Area from the late 1970s through the mid-1990s. Bearing such colorful names Ultimate Creations, Unlimited Sounds, Spintronix, and Sound Sequence, these crews became the mainstay for a vibrant youth-lead scene that stretched from San Francisco to San Jose, Daly City to Union City, Vallejo to Stockton.

In Legions of Boom, music and pop culture writer/scholar Dr. Oliver Wang chronicles this remarkable scene, using over 35 interviews from the likes of Q-Bert, Shortkut, MC Fly, Genie G, Jazzy Jim, Lani Luv, plus members of dozens of crews. Legions of Boom examines how the crews were instrumental in helping to create and unify the Bay Area’s Filipino American community through their countless parties and battles. As the book examines, the mobile crews gave young men (and a handful of women) a musical avenue in which to express their creativity, gain social status and travel to new neighborhoods.

Beginning with small garage parties, all the way up to massive showcase centerpiece performances, the mobile scene would go on to help unite thousands of Filipino American youth throughout the 1980s, becoming a key cultural touchstone. By the early 1990s, the scene also help give rise to the next phase of Filipino DJs – turntablists – most of whom began in mobile crews before branching off into the world of scratch DJing. Legions of Boom documents the dramatic rise and fall of this mobile scene and the indelible mark it helped leave on the Bay Area and beyond. As Dr. Wang says, “this is a story and history that everyone who lived it knows but few have ever documented or written about it. It’s just extraordinary to think about how thousands of high school teenagers created this flourishing party scene, by themselves, for themselves, that lasted over a decade. It’s a story that should be told, needs to be told.” 

Read an excerpt here.

Available now.

240 pages
24 illustrations
6×9’’ trim size
ISBN 0-8223-0-8223-5890-5
paper, $23.95
ISBN 0-8223-0-8223-5904-9
library cloth edition, $84.95