SCRATCH

The Art of Turntablism

Content -2
Quality
None Light Moderate Heavy
Language        
Violence        
Sex        
Nudity        

Release Date: February 15, 2002

Starring: Afrika Bambaataa, Jazzy Jay,
DJ Krush, DJ Premier, Rob
Swift and the X-Executioners,
Qbert, Mix Master Mike, Cut
The Chemist and Numark, DJ
Shadow, Z-Trip

Genre: Documentary

Audience: Teenagers and young adults

Rating: R

Runtime: 92 minutes

Distributor: Palm Pictures

Director: Bonner Bellew and Doug Pray

Executive Producer: Allen Hughes, Albert Hughes
and Bonner Bellew

Producer: Brad Blondheim and Ernest Meza

Writer: Boner Bellew

Address Comments To:

Chris Blackwell
Palm Pictures
8409 Santa Monica Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90069
Phone: (323) 802-0101
Fax: (323) 802-0123
Website: www.palmpictures.com

Content:

(PaPa, B, Cap, O, FR, C, LLL, A, DD, M) Mixed pagan worldview with moral and capitalistic elements portrayed by positive artistic alternative events to gangs and violence marred by New Age paganism centering on the “spiritual oneness” in the world and in music; divine creative inspiration from “self” and cosmic other-worlds; and, some occult-leaning “spiritual” discussions about the trance-inducing rhythms and bliss found in the creation and performance of this music and one casual reference to a séance sound recording; some redemptive elements via several music celebrities’ sincere desire to positively mentor and esteem young people while maintaining honesty in their lyrics and accountability to God for their lyrical expression; more than 30 strong obscenities and several performing group names and apparel contain references to violence and drug use; two references to alcohol and implied use; one instance of marijuana use and its praise; the destruction of property with graffiti is portrayed as an art form, however, its creation is portrayed strictly in non-destructive performance settings and one instance of minor rebellion toward parents.


Summary:

SCRATCH is a documentary surrounding the musical art form known as “turntablism,” a defining element of the hip-hop culture and rap music birthed in the late 70s and early 80s. The movie showcases the personalities and performances of a number of high-profile hip-hop DJ’s. SCRATCH is a captivating musical history lesson with some moral elements portrayed by artistic alternatives to violence, but diluted by New Age paganism philosophies and excessive obscenities.


Review:

“The turntable was originally something you walked away from when you put a record on. You were never supposed to touch it. Your parents were like – don’t touch the turntable! Don’t touch the record, you’ll ruin it.” The words of hip-hop DJ, “Cut The Chemist,” in SCRATCH underscore the transmutation of the record turntable and its impact on modern music in the past twenty years. For the uninitiated, the record turntable you scrapped at a garage sale immediately following the purchase of your first CD player has become an accepted musical instrument – an instrument which in the past few years has been outselling the guitar in Europe.
SCRATCH documents the musical art form known as “turntablism,” a defining element of hip-hop culture and rap music birthed in the late 70s and early 80s. The art of turntablism is the performance by one or more DJ’s who touch and tap (“scratch”) music segments (“breaks”) on one or two spinning vinyl albums to create rhythms and an energetic soundscape.
SCRATCH chronicles the role of the turntablist (or DJ) in the beginnings of the hip-hop culture in New York City, starting with an early leader of the movement, Afrika Bambaataa, who details hip-hop’s origins as an alternative to gang violence and delinquency. Bambaataa politely distinguishes the terms “hip-hop” and “rap.” (“Rap” is simply a genre of music while “hip-hop” is a cultural movement whose genesis consisted of four elements: rap music performed by an MC and DJ, break dancing, fashion, and graffiti art.) The movie traverses emotional live and studio performances in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco and showcases the personalities and perseverance of a number of high-profile DJ artistes, including Qbert, Jazzy Jay, Mix Master Mike (Beastie Boys), Rob Swift, and many others.
Along the journey, SCRATCH documents some of the positive aspects of a much-maligned genre of music, including well-respected DJ competition events, an after-school mentoring program and the thrills and camaraderie experienced by those creating and performing this fresh form of musical expression. These elements could be viewed as healing propaganda for a genre of music that has faced repeated accusations for adding to the moral dehydration of our youth, but that does not seem to be the movie’s intent. However, the movie as a whole can’t help but stir up questions about the impact truthful and honest cultural reflection in music and art can have on young consumers.
The movie’s explosive soundtrack and urban visual elements along with the virtuosity and technical dexterity of the DJ’s help make SCRATCH a captivating documentary, even for a filmgoer who is not a fan of this musical genre.
Unfortunately, many of the positive aspects of the film are diluted by the excessive, though predictable, obscenities as well as the pagan worldviews expressed through the celebrity DJ’s claims of cosmic inspiration and personal New Age philosophies. Sadly, much of the intended audience for SCRATCH, the teenage and preteen market, will not be able to appreciate this musical history lesson due to its obscene language, questionable content, pagan themes, and apropos R-rating. Although, for parents who want a clearer understanding of their children’s musical interests as well as modern teenage slang, SCRATCH delivers.
Admittedly, SCRATCH is a delightful educational showpiece of an important musical art form that posits the personal and spiritual value of creative musical expression, but, regretfully absent is any clear view of the Great Creator or proper credit for His astounding gift of music.


In Brief:

SCRATCH documents the musical art form known as “turntablism,” a defining element of the hip-hop culture and rap music birthed in the late 70s and early 80s. The movie showcases the personalities and performances of a number of high-profile hip-hop DJs in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Along the journey, SCRATCH documents some of the positive aspects of this genre of music, including well-respected DJ competition events, an after-school mentoring program, and the camaraderie experienced by those creating and performing this fresh form of musical expression.
The movie’s explosive soundtrack and urban visual elements along with the virtuosity and technical dexterity of the DJ’s help make SCRATCH a captivating documentary, even for a moviegoer who is not a fan of this musical genre. Unfortunately, many of the positive aspects of the film are diluted by the excessive, strong obscenities as well as the pagan worldviews expressed through the celebrity DJ’s claims of cosmic inspiration and New Age philosophies. There is also some occult-leaning “spiritual” discussions about the trance-inducing rhythms and bliss found in the creation and performance of this music. Parents who want to understand their child’s musical interests will be enlightened, however.