Scratch, film review

Scratch, as in the action DJ’s partake in, scratching a record.

The film dates back to 2001, and was directed by Doug Pray. I only recently heard of it, and finally checked it out.

All in all a good overview on DJ culture. It starts with a brief introduction, Grand Wizard Theodore tells an anecdote on how created the “scratch”. The history section is not as in-depth as I would have liked, however I am sure there are numerous books on the subject out there. For the most part the film highlights each element of DJing. Hip Hop is tied in too, in that it used to be the DJ that received all the attention, and the MC, master of ceremony, was there to hype the DJ, and get the crowd into the DJs performance. That eventually changed, and the MC, or rappers took the limelight.

The film points out the importance of the Herbie Hancock song “Rockit”. Mix Master Mike and at least two others during th film note that song as their inspiration and motivation to become DJs, or turntablists (coined by DJ Babu). “Rockit” features GrandMixer DXT scratching. The song dates back to 1983.

Groups mentioned in the film include The X-Ecutioners, and Jurassic 5, as they had two DJs during most of their existence.

Digging, the art of ‘digging’ through heaps of vinyl to find the good stuff has a prominent section featuring DJ Shadow. According to Cut Chemist Dj Shadow is the king of digging. DJ Shadow then states how most of his first album came from records culled from the basement of a record store with stacks and stacks of vinyl, which he calls nirvana.

The film also features DJ Premier, of Gang Starr fame, noting how he started off as a DJ. There is footage with him and the late Guru, and Premier stresses how the MC has to more vocal, and since the MCs voice is heard by so many people, he has to be true to what he is rhyming about, to “be about everything we drop”.

The making vinyl section starts with DJ Swamp making his own vinyl specifically for DJing. He shows of a record he made of guitar sounds that go an entire octave, while Mix Master Mike shows off a few vinyl record with specific sounds.

All in all, a film definitely worth checking out to get a glimpse into the world of DJing and turntablism. Not to mention rapping, as that came about through DJing. Also to see the music involved.

Of note, Jazzy Jay is a self-proclaimed encyclopedia of breaks.


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