Scratch

"Excellent"

Scratch Review


At the core of the documentary Scratch is an infectious love of the art form and world of the hip-hop DJ. While in the wrong hands this characteristic could spell certain doom and a pandering, hero-worship approach, director Doug Pray digs so deep into the history and layers of the subculture, that one can't help but gleefully be scooped up for the ride.

Told in strokes broad enough to educate the layman but equally sharp and succinct to satisfy the aficionado, Scratch comprehensively covers its terrain. Not to be confused with the world of mainstream rap music, the film's scope explores the roots of the hip-hop revolution in the late 70s, its thrust into mainstream pop culture, courtesy of Grandmixer DXT's influential performance on Herbie Hancock's 1984 hit "Rockit," and the strong life it enjoys today thanks to the current slew of "turntablists" and "beat-jugglers."

Awe-inspiring live performances and interviews with DJ Premier, Cut Chemist, Numark, and DJ Q-Bert, to name a few, are accented with editing tricks, which mimic a DJ's stage routine and creates an enveloping atmosphere. Footage, such as traveling into the restricted basement of Davis, California-based DJ Shadow's favorite record store to go "crate-diggin'," lends a uniquely all-inclusive feeling. This feeling is a great strength of the film, as it steadfastly refuses to shoot off on any esoteric tangents. It's obvious that Pray wants the audience to be able to appreciate the nuances of this environment every bit as much as he does.

The film wisely dispenses of narration, but of interest would have been an examination of the hip-hop audience. Birthed in urban African-American neighborhoods, one can't help but notice a predominantly white, presumably middle-class/suburban congregation assembled at the live settings. The lack of boundaries, be it class or race, certainly offers an extra dose of substance to hip-hop, but it resonates as assumed with nothing tangible upon which to base this assumption.

Technically, the film succeeds (although it's difficult to ascertain if Beastie Boys DJ Mix Master Mike's eyes were purposely left in shadows), shot crisply on 16mm and edited with an upbeat tempo that speaks in an accessible, yet richly informed cinematic syntax. The combination of historical, live, interview, and day-in-the-life footage is balanced flawlessly.

Most of all, Scratch, is fun - a documentary with a fan's feeling, but void of any in-the-know exclusions. When the final credits rise, you'll be left with the sensation of having just witnessed a great performance and, perhaps, give in to the urge to get on your feet and shake it.



Scratch

Facts and Figures

Run time: 92 mins

In Theaters: Wednesday 7th November 2001

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

IMDB: 7.9 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer: Brad Blondheim, Ernest Meza

Also starring:

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