Wednesday, September 28, 2005


I watched Scratch a few weeks ago. I figured that I should get some insight into the music that surrounded me while I grew up in the hood (now almost completely gentrified).

I'm not a big fan of the scratching itself found in Hip-Hop music, but I was a huge fan of Rockit by Herbie Hancock. Most of the DJs interviewed in scratch said that Rockit was the first time they heard someone scratching a record, and it was often their original source of inspiration.

I won't give you a blow-by-blow account of the movie, but I'll hilight the most interesting parts.

First, the skill of these DJs is amazing. A lot of the time they are scratching and making kind of odd sounds (which is harder to appreciate), but a couple of times they focused on someone mixing a record (actually, two of the same record) right in front of you. No scratching, just a re-mix of the original music using a couple of turn tables and a fader. The result sounded like a regular recording that was mixed in a studio, simply amazing. Other times, guys would provide a beat with one of the records and add the chorus from a second record. To do this right, they had to know *exactly* where the beats started and stopped and be able to just flip back with a quick flick of the wrist.

Hard to describe, but just amazing what these guys could do with a turntable. It was kind of like watching someone sitting down in front of a couple of plastic buckets and start belting out an amazing drum solo. Or like watching a really good beatboxer.

Speaking of beatboxing, they showed a minute clip of some guys beatboxing, but didn't go into what it was or how it fit in. Plus, the clip they showed had 3 guys who weren't very good (well, the first half of the clip shown was bad and the audience was not at all into it). So I thought that portion fit poorly with the rest of the movie.

They did talk a lot about the guys who dig for music, and interviewed one of the DJs in the basement of some record store that was literally filled with records. Stacks upon stacks of records, floor to ceiling. And this guy (among others) just goes through and finds no-name records to use in his mixing.

One issue they touched on in the extras, but not in the regular movie, was the impact of the studios clamping down on sampling and how that has affected DJs. In the extra the couple of guys asked were very passionate about the issue, but it was not explored very deeply. Perhaps that was the point (as both sides were presented) - perhaps the intention was to raise the issue and let you think about it. Dunno.

Anyway, I recommend the movie for anyone interested in hip-hop.

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