Compilation album; no rating given. – Editor
Usually from the listener’s perspective, DJ-focused records concentrating on the cutting and scratching skills of hip hop tend to detract from one’s listening enjoyment. Time and time again, the nature of what you hear isn’t always best enjoyed unless seen performed, reoccurs as a flaw. Somewhat like listening to a live baseball game on the radio, as opposed to seeing it on TV, or seeing it live, these releases seldom spark interest outside of DJs. However, on this release by DJ’s Rob Swift, Roc Raida, and Total Eclipse of the X-ecutioners, they dig in the crates to honor and teach the youth about the DJ’s integral role thus far in hip hop’s development, instead of trying to demonstrate their various skills as a DJ. Special highlights of the DJ’s past via songs by pioneers such as Grand Wizard Theodore, or via songs of the present by DJ Premier make Scratchology an audio-documentary. This well-packed history of the DJ, the always forgotten one, isn’t overshadowed this time by the dominance of the emcee.
The great thing about compilations such as this one, is that you don’t have to go searching for entire LPs you have no interest in, just to really get one classic song. The CD kicks off with an “Intro – What is a scratch?” where the X-ecutioners explicate on answering the question, then immediately the classics start unleashing. The emcee definitely took a back seat here. The Furious Five gathered around Grandmaster Flash to follow the tempo and escapades of records he used from Chic, Blondie and others being blended together on “The Adventures of Grandmaster Flash on the Wheels of Steel”. Even the length of the title is old school! As this block party begins, Flash’s technique of blending is timeless, especially when each cut is interrupted by the famous line, “Yuh say one for the treble, two for the time, c’mon girls let’s rock that!” With certain tracks being preceded with narration by the likes of Jazzy Jay, Grand Mixer DST or Grand Wizard Theodore to guide you through, there are certain classics that will need no introduction if you grew up in the 1980s. When Herbie Hancock’s “Rock it” featuring probably the most recognizable scratching to date by Grand Mixer DXT sounds off, it’s hard to get the then futuristic-looking video out of your mind.
Even though foundational songs such as “Like This (Full & Fresh)” by Mixmaster Gee & The Turntable Orchestra, “Military Cut (Scratch Mix)” by Grand Wizard Theodore and “Ugly People Be Quiet” by DJ Cash Money are rare to find, it isn’t here where the CD reaches it’s peak. We’re talking about four supreme cuts in a row to have a true hip hop fan drooling, kicking off with 3rd Bass’s remix to “Product of the Environment,” highlighting DJ Richie Rich’s coarse-like scratches. The next up is a gem, something to immediately throw you back into the wonder years of hip hop, when NYC trains were works of art and the term vinyl only referred to what you used to backspin on. Once you heard “One for the Treble” by Davy DMX, you’d even dare to attempt a head-spin, if you never. Next up – Pete Rock’s remix of Public Enemy’s “Shut Em Down,” a track where those open-fader scratches raised your pores on the hottest day, and cooling down the tempo a little is the instrumental, laid-back groove by Gang Starr classic, “DJ Premier In Deep Concentration.” Premier scratches up on some of the juiciest breaks.
Even though songs in the latter part of the CD feature today’s turntablists The Beat Junkies, DJ Q-Bert, Dilated Peoples, X-Ecutioners themselves, them bringing you somewhat up to speed on the continued focus of the DJ’s role in hip hop isn’t where you’ll find the CD’s most precious scratch.
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