A child prodigy is not always loved, but is always respected. An exceptionally talented kid is an expression of the random and truly perplexing nature of life and destiny; while most of us spend years of our lives trying to find something we're good at, the wunderkind is seemingly born with his path set before him. Anyone who has witnessed the growth of Portland's DJ FlipFlop has seen such a person develop in the local hiphop scene—long before he could drink in bars, FlipFlop was cutting it up with the best turntablists the world has ever nurtured.
DJ FlipFlop (real name Kenny Vanderberg) just turned 23 and has been DJing for eight years now.
"In my freshman year of high school I happened to see some DJ battle on MTV between Infamous and Precise and I was hooked after that," says Vanderberg. "Pretty soon I had bought a 'DJ in a box' set and was going at it."
In a few short years Vanderberg mastered skills that some scratch DJs never harness—complex techniques and truly funky rhythms on the cut.
"I've always been pretty good at just listening to something and then knowing how to do it," he says.
Such an innate skill has served Vanderberg well. One of Portland's illest DJs, he caught the ear of the CunninLynguists in 2007, when he opened up for their Portland appearance. They kept in touch, and after several other DJs proved unworthy of the task, FlipFlop accompanied the group on a West Coast tour.
"On that first tour I just kept my mouth shut and did what they wanted," Vanderberg says. "It worked, I hung in there."
In April he will be part of their European expedition.
"I've never been out of the country before," he says. "I'm pretty excited."
Portland should share his enthusiasm—seldom do we see a kid with as much talent as DJ FlipFlop rise up out of our mix and make noise on an international level. The old adage about "getting discovered" still rings true: If you are good enough it will happen. While that mix of baby face and ill techniques will surprise some and confound others, there's only one good reaction to have at Vanderberg's shows: complete and total awe.