Director Doug Pray (Hype
) pays tribute to the innovative art of DJing in the electrifying documentary Scratch
. Featuring the most legendary figures in the DJ scene, Pray's film is at once a deeply insightful historical document and a highly entertaining glimpse into the world of underground hip-hop. Modern luminaries such as DJ Shadow, Mix Master Mike (of the Beastie Boys), DJ Q-bert, Rob Swift, and DJ Swamp are interviewed alongside living legends like Afrika Bambaataa, Jazzy Jay, and Grand Mixer DXT, in order to paint a broad, comprehensive picture of how DJing has evolved over the years.
Seamlessly cutting between interviews and actual footage filmed at several high-profile DJing contests including Skratchcon 2000 and the DMC U.S. Finals, Pray's film is a must-see for both seasoned fans and the uninitiated, a celebration of one of the late-20th century's most thrilling, original musical movements. In the language of hip-hop, the MC raps on top of the beats. The DJ--or turntablist--supplies the beats. Doug Pray's lively documentary is a tribute to these unsung heroes of the "scratch." His approach is neither dry nor academic and is designed as much for the masters of the form as for the fans. Pray was also behind Hype!, which focused on the Seattle scene in the 1980s and 1990s. In his 2002 follow-up, he travels as far back as the 1970s (DJ Kool Herc, Afrika Bambaataa) and roams the U.S. from New York (Gang Starr's DJ Premier) to the Bay Area (DJ Shadow, Q-Bert). After watching the film and grooving to the beat, you're likely to wonder if there's a soundtrack to accompany it. Fortunately, there is--Bill Laswell, producer of Herbie Hancock's seminal "Rockit," is behind a compilation featuring many of the same artists celebrated in Scratch. --Kathleen C. Fennessy