Rob Swift

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For other people named Robert Swift, see Robert Swift (disambiguation).
Rob Swift
Birth name Robert Aguilar
Genres Hip hop, industrial dance
Occupations Turntablist
Years active 1991–present
Associated acts X-Ecutioners
Website Official website

Rob Swift (born Robert Aguilar) is an American hip hop DJ and turntablist. He was a former member of the turntablist group The X-Ecutioners in late 2005 and 2006, with Mike Patton’s project Peeping Tom. Swift is on the faculty of Scratch DJ Academy in New York City.[1]

Since January 2010, Swift has hosted the online hip-hop radio show Dope on Plastic on Scion A/V Streaming Radio 17.[2]

In August 2012, Swift became the resident DJ for a new late night college sports TV talk show on ESPNU called UNITE.[3]

Early life[edit]

Born and raised in Jackson Heights, Queens, by Colombian heritage, Swift (born Robert Aguilar) began DJing at the age of 12 by watching his father and brother.[4][5] “My dad was a salsa and merengue DJ. My brother learned how to scratch and do all the hip hop deejaying stuff on my dad’s equipment (without his permission) and I’d sit there and watch him. When I entered the sixth grade, I decided I wanted to learn.” So unlike those who were influenced through hip hop records, DMC and NMS tapes, or movies, Swift educated himself with the classic turntable beats of the early 1980s New York playground pioneers while listening to funk and jazz at home. “My older brother exposed me to all that,” he says. “All the stuff I create as a DJ is rooted in the songs that I heard from Bob James, Herbie Hancock and James Brown to Quincy Jones and old DJs like Grandmaster Flash and Grand Wizard Theodore. That’s where my roots are.”

In 1990, Swift enrolled as a student at Baruch College in New York and in 1995, graduated with a degree in psychology. “While I was deejaying I pursued college. Speech class and English serve a purpose, you know?” His education can be said to translate into his cerebral style of scratching, juggling and making music.


In 1991, Swift joined the groundbreaking turntablist crew the X-Men aka X-ecutioners (Roc Raida, Total Eclipse, and Mista Sinista). Also in 1991, he won the DMC East Coast title, becoming known as a master beat juggler (a style of turntable manipulation which involves manually rearranging actual drum beats from vinyl in real time). In 2001, he was featured in the DJ documentary Scratch (Palm Pictures). He has appeared on ESPN, the Late Show with David Letterman and Sesame Street.

In 2008, Swift was the first hip hop DJ invited to perform at the Savannah Jazz Festival in Georgia. He has collaborated with artists from many genres including Blue Man Group, Herbie Hancock, Bob James, Linkin Park, Good Charlotte, Dan The Automator, Fat Joe, Cypress Hill and Bill Laswell. He currently[when?] works solo, as part of the group Ill Insanity (featuring former X-Men Total Eclipse and Precision), or collaborating with other like-minded artists.[6][7]

Since January 2010, Swift has hosted the online hip-hop radio show Dope on Plastic on Scion A/V Streaming Radio 17 on which he plays mixes and interviews with guest turntablists.[8] Guests have included J-Smoke & DJ Element,[9] Tim Martells,[10] and DJ Platurn.[11]

In February 2010, Rob Swift's solo 18-song turntablism-classical music fusion album The Architect was released by Mike Patton on Ipecac Recordings, which Swift dedicated to Roc Raida who died in 2009. In June 2008, Swift's girlfriend played a piece by Chopin for him on her iPod while he was shaving. Swift said, "For some reason on that day in my bathroom, my heart was ready to embrace this genre." In July, he began work on a new album and a month or two into the recording process, he said, "I listened back to see how to album was starting to shape up. After sitting down and listening to it I started realizing that I was being influenced by this genre of classical that I had a new found love for ... I then started creating my music in a way that was reflective of the way that the composers created their pieces. So I started working in movements. I was using sounds and then reintroducing the sounds in other songs. And I sat down and went, 'wow!' All this time, artists like Mozart, Chopin, Beethoven were influencing me on this album subconsciously without me knowing. So once I realized that, then I decided that this album would be a take on what I feel classical composers like Mozart and Chopin would have done if they had turntables."[12] One guest MC, Breez Evahflowin, rhymes about the album's concepts on "Principio" and "Ultimo".[13]

On March 20, 2012, Swift released the album Roc for Raida, a collection of songs (some unreleased) and battle style routines that defined the late fellow X-Ecutioner Roc Raida as an artist, lost interview archives (from John Carluccio), and other material, with proceeds going to Raida's family.[14][15]

In August 2012, Swift became the resident DJ for a new late night college sports TV talk show on ESPNU called UNITE, on two Technics 1200s and a Rane 62 mixer. On his blog, DJ Qbert, a fellow turntablist, reported Swift as saying, "Never would I have thought as a 12-year old that DJing would take me this far. It is something that I have always done out of pure love. Now I’m being contracted for a full-time TV position and paid to do something I truly love. It just goes to show, when you do something for the right reasons, the right things happen. Stay positive, stay true to what you love, don’t compromise your craft and never give up on your dreams." [16]




  • 2001 Scratch
  • 2009 As the Technics Spin (documentary)
  • 2011 DJ Rob Swift - Live! The Documented Movement (documentary)


  1. ^ [1] Scratch DJ Academy Current Faculty. Accessed May 10, 2012.
  2. ^ [2] New Scion A/V Streaming Radio Offers 17 Cutting Edge Broadband Radio Stations, PRWEB, August 15, 2011
  3. ^ blog post, August 21, 2012
  4. ^ McLeod, Rodd. "Rob Swift Does the Wicki-Wicki", Rolling Stone, May 6, 1999. Accessed May 28, 2009. "Swift lives in Jackson Heights, Queens, very near where he grew up."
  5. ^ "An Open Letter to Big Ghost Fase", January 9, 2012. Accessed May 10, 2012. "I actually started DJing 6 years before that at age 12."
  6. ^ [3] DJ Rob Swift bio. Accessed May 10, 2012.
  7. ^ [4] X-ecutioners Biography. Accessed May 10, 2012.
  8. ^ [5] DJ Rob Swift Artist Page on Scion A/V Streaming Radio 17
  9. ^ [6] Scion A/V Dope on Plastic
  10. ^ [7] Tim Martells Guest Set for Dope on Plastic
  11. ^ [8] Funk DJ Platurn Dope on Plastic Guest
  12. ^ Billy Jam, Interview with Rob Swift about The Architect (Ipecac),, March 1, 2010
  13. ^ [9] DJ Rob Swift bio. Accessed May 10, 2012.
  14. ^ [10] DJ Rob Swift Releases Roc for Raida, March 20, 2012
  15. ^ Phillip Mlynar, [11] Q&A: DJ Rob Swift Looks Back On His Work With The Late Roc Raida]], Village Voice, March 22, 2012
  16. ^ blog post, August 21, 2012

External links[edit]