At a recent screening of the new movie "Scratch", a music documentary about the world of Hip-Hop DJ's, I overheard one person say "Well it's not like they're really making music", revealing a mainstream misunderstanding of what DJ-ing is all about and a view that "Scratch" does a lot to explain away.
Director and editor David Pray, applies his documentary skills towards the DJ culture of today in the same way that his movie "Hype!" opened up the Seattle music scene in the nineties. "Scratch", delivers a textbook-like overview of the key aspects of Turntablism.
Divided into chapters, "Scratch" covers the DJ's early history in the discos of the seventies and eighties, through the rise of the MC's and vocalists who used the DJ's turntable sound as back-up, and then emergence of the DJ on their own, putting the spotlight on expressing their own musical voice.
"Scratch" is filled with interviews, live concert footage of shows and beat-battles from national turntable competitions. And "Scratch" provides a steady stream of insight from some of the biggest names in DJ-ing. Going on the record to set the record straight are dialogs with artists like Afrika Bambatta, DJ Q-Bert, DJ Shadow, Invisibl SKratch Piklz and more.
One of the more interesting perspectives includes how one televised performance shaped an entire music scene. From Mix Master Mike to Cut Chemist, DJ after DJ fondly recollects how they saw Grandmaster DXT perform with Herbie Hancock at the 1984 Grammy Awards on TV and how that one event inspired them to seek out what was making that "zigga zigga" sound and make it their own.
While "Scratch" is a solid documentary, that provides an insightful introduction to this underground music movement, diehard fans of DJ-music are bound to feel that the film leaves out a lot. "Scratch" spends most of its screen time on the San Francisco and the New York scene's at the expense of other areas being barely featured or left out. Despite this, "Scratch" succeeds as an intelligent look at the hip-hop culture and the origin of its flavor and sound.
Part music archeologists, part visionary musicians, these DJ's play with audio and other peoples music in ways the original artists never imagined, creating music that is fresh and new. "Scratch" is a film that will open up some ears to a sound and art form truly unique to our times.
For Movie Magazine this is Purple.
© 2002 - Purple - Air Date: 3/6/02
USA - 2001