The Legend Dj Scratch talks Hip-Hop Now & Then
DJ Scratch has been dubbed one of the greatest DJ’s of all time and a Hip-Hop icon. And because of his talent he has worked with almost everyone in the Hip-Hop world at one point or another. Some highlights of his illustrious career include touring with Run DMC and Jay-Z as well as producing for Busta Rhymes, 50 Cent, LL Cool J and The Roots. More recently DJ Scratch is fresh of a win in the reality show “Master of the Mix” where he beat out 6 other famous DJ’s for a 250k cash prize. Scratch’s accolades include 3 Grammy nominations and over 40 Gold and Platinum plaques to his credit which makes DJ Scratch responsible for the sale of over 30 million albums to date. DJ Scratch is truly a living legend.
Parlé Magazine recently caught up with the legendary DJ to discuss his recent victory, some Grammy picks, his thoughts on the current state of hip-hop and more…
Parlé Magazine: You just won the reality show Master of the Mix. So first off congratulations for that.. Can you tell me a little about the show, and of course what it meant for you to win?“
Dj Scratch: The show is 7 successful DJ’s, where they take us back to like our paying dues situation, cause you know we’re all successful DJ’s, we have things set up how we want it when we DJ, but it wasn’t like that when we did the show. So it was the 7 DJ’s, 8 different DJ challenges and the winner gets 250 thousand in cash and prizes.
Parlé: And this wasn’t your first win… in 88’ you won the New Music Seminar Battle for World Supremacy DJ Championship and from that you joined the RUN DMC world tour…. Compare that win to Master of the Mix.
Scratch: It’s two different types of battles, the Master of the Mix was a competition, a contest, and New Music Seminar was just straight head-to head battling 60 seconds each, just straight raw DJ battling. I would say the New Music Seminar was more special because it was raw, it was new, it was just an underground culture. Master of the Mix was just letting all the young boys know I still got it.
Parlé: Alright so how’d you get into Djing in the first place?
Scratch: I started Djing at the age of 7 years old. Hip-hop was like 3 years old at the time, so everybody was a DJ. That was the new thing that teenagers did. All my older brothers were DJ’s, everybody on the block was DJ’s.. there was no video games, no Nintendo, Playstation, none of that. So that was the thing everybody did.
Parlé: In 2006, The Source Magazine honored you as a quote on quote “Hip-Hop Icon”… what did that kind of recognition mean for you and your career?
Scratch: Man, it was very special for me. The Source Magazine has dictated Hip-Hop for like at least 18 years. So just to be acknowledged by the biggest magazine for Hip-Hop, the main spokesmen magazine for Hip-Hop, as an icon .. I was honored by my peers. You know you can’t call yourself an icon you cant call yourself a legend, you have to be acknowledged as that. So that was a huge honor for me.
Parlé: Aright, so you’ve been around for a while, we know you’ve worked with some of the best to ever do it… who’s someone that you enjoyed working with the most?
Scratch: As far as production wise, Busta Rhymes. As far as Djing, Jay-Z. I mean, of course EPMD, but Jay-Z because there was never any drama, it was always fun. Of course it was hard work but it was always fun, being on a big tour DJing in big arenas every night, there was no drama, no egos or anything at all.
Parlé: So I know the list is small, but if you could work with anyone that you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?
Scratch: Man, I’ve worked with everybody. I wanna work with some of the new artists. I wanna work with Joell Ortiz. I never worked with Mos Def, which is crazy! … I worked with Talib Kweli, Pharoahe Monch, but never worked with Mos Def. He’s an artist that I would wanna work with to complete my wish list of artists I wanna work with.
Parlé: When you look at the industry today, and all the new artists coming up, what do you think of the current state of hip hop?
Scratch: It’s a lot of music just being made for now. It’s not no classic material being made. Even though you can’t say a record is a classic until 10 years later but it’s a lot of music just being made for right now and it dies out within 6 months.. its like fast food. The hottest record last year doesn’t even get any airplay in the clubs or on the radio. If you play a record from last year in the club you don’t got that impact like when you play a Rakim record or a KRS record… it’s a lot of fast food, it’s a lot of hit records, but there’s no classics being made. And its because there’s no guidance from the golden era artists.. I think older artists from the 90s and 80s need to mentor a lot of these artists and direct them. There is no artist development anymore, everybody just wanna make a new record…Its cool, its fun music, but it doesn’t last.”
Parlé: We want high class steak dinners, not some fast food! Along those lines I read a quote from your site directed at the new generation of DJ’s trying to make a name for themselves where you say “crawl before you walk”.. what’s the meaning behind that?
Scratch: Learn to crawl before you walk, you know if your in scratch academies or all these different DJ schools and watching all of these how-to scratch DVDs and everything, they don’t teach you how to DJ they just teach you all these different intricate scratch patterns, and that’s cool, but you needa learn the basics of DJing first. If your learning from somebody else all your gonna be able to do is imitate what somebody taught you.
Parlé: Alright so being nominated 3 times yourself, you know a little something about the Grammys … This year B.O.B, Drake, The Roots, Jay – Z, and Eminem are the nominees for Rap album of the year… who do you think deserves the award?
Scratch: I think Eminem. The Grammys are based on the biggest records, its not based on the best record. If that’s the case Grammys for the past 15 years, those artists wouldn’t have won, and the artists that were never nominated would have one. But I think Eminem. He has the biggest records, the biggest impact, the better quality music, better quality lyrics.
Parlé: OK so lemme leave you on this, what’s next for DJ Scratch and what can we be expecting in the future?
Scratch: I’m back in the studio right now. Working on Busta Rhymes new album, Sean Prices new album, doing a couple underground projects. And I still have my internet radio station I’ve been doing since 2008, www.Scratchvision.com. Where I bring all of the DJs that the world wants to hear on the radio and wants to see DJ. So I bring the legends, Red Alert, Grand Wizard Theodore, DJ Cash Money, Jazzy Jeff, Kenny Dope, DJ Spinna.. I just bring all of these DJs so people can watch them. The kids that heard about these DJs but never got the chance to see them, I bring the world together so they can just watch and we teach history. You don’t see DJ’s on TV anymore, you don’t see DJs on BET or MTV or VH1, so that was one of the reasons that I signed up to do Master of the Mix because the younger viewers, they need to see what DJing is really about.
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