Hailing from the D.C. area, Shortee (born Shannon Burke) was the most successful female turntablist of the late '90s. With a style that ranged from hard house, swing, hip-hop, and drum'n'bass to dub, she was a strong force in both group and solo efforts. Shortee brought nearly two decades of percussion/drum playing to her DJ work, and it showed in tight, complex rhythms that used what had been accomplished before by other turntablists as a mere jumping-off point. She was a quick study to the DJ style: only three months after learning how to maneuver turntables, she issued her first tape, the aptly named Its in My Nature. In 1997, she issued her second mix tape, No Shortcuts, which showed off the skills that helped her win the 1997 Fever/Buzz Battle of the DJs, the largest techno/house/jungle mixing competition in the U.S. A series of projects with DJ Faust (born Bobby Bruno), who was romantically as well as musically linked to her, provided some of her first formal record releases. She appeared on Faust's 1998 album Man or Myth, which featured a kind of turntablist tribute to musicians who she and Faust admired, from the Steve Miller Band to Public Enemy.
Faust's next effort, 1999's Inward Journeys, displayed a greater sense of creativity as she and Faust manipulated the samples that they used so that their sources were indistinguishable and the records that they used became more like tones and textures than recognizable pieces of music. She was a founding member of the Citizenz (with Faust and T-Rock), and also worked with the Space Kadets Collective and recorded a limited-edition vinyl EP in 1999 called Fathomless (with Faust and Craze). Her first solo album, The Dreamer, was the first DJ/turntablist album ever released by a female performer on an established label. Beyond that, the album was original and inventive with a fascinating concept: Shortee created songs that were supposed to characterize the transformation of a person's brain patterns as they dreamed, with the dreams being transformed into sound. The result was beautiful, surprising, and a great hint of the things that were yet to come. ~ Stacia Proefrock
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