DJ Scratch is one of the finest DJ’s Hip-Hop has ever seen. A battle DJ, he has been through so many versions of Hip-Hop and he’s still here today. As a vet, he’s seen it all. Now he talks to Chuck “Jigsaw” Creekmur aka Jigsaw about all things DJ Scratch. He goes into everything from EPMD’s break-up to Jam Master Jay (watch the video for his full explanation), to his new music and more like his talks with Erick Sermon’s drug addiction reveal.
AllHipHop: First things first, I want to talk about this new single you got with Tiye Phoenix in “I Be The Nicest,” and talk about that record, because it seems like you really taking this lyricism thing, putting it on your back a little bit, and wanting to carry that torch.
DJ Scratch: Yeah, man. Shout-out to all the MCs out there. I’ve always been very picky when it comes to making music and who I work with, and Tiye Phoenix always been one of those hidden gems in hip hop, in the underground. She’s an underground queen, she’s a triple threat, she’s an MC, she’s a singer, she’s a musician, she play keys, but I felt she never got that due, like she should be where we feel Lauryn should be.
AllHipHop: Let’s just zone in on 50 years of hip hop, 50 years of DJing, because the DJ came before even the MC. So, we’re kind of talking about, for us in hip hop, 50 years of DJing.
DJ Scratch: Man, it hasn’t hit me that it’s been 50 years yet. One of the main reasons is that once I entered the game, I’ve been blessed to have success consecutively over 30 years. So, I’m still at the point where I’m still not looking back at my career, all of my accomplishments. So, on a global scale of looking at the whole culture at 50 years, I didn’t even look at it until they started announcing it like, yo, 50 years, this year’s going to make 50, I’m like, damn, 50?
AllHipHop: Did you ever try to rap?
DJ Scratch: Man, listen. Yes. The beginnings of hip hop, when I first started DJing and doing hip hop back in the days, the beginning, I followed the actual pioneers. Back then, you had to know how to rap, it wasn’t partitioned. You was a rapper and you DJ’ed. So, for example, Run from Run-DMC, you have never heard Run DMC call himself an MC.
AllHipHop: Right, DJ Run.
DJ Scratch: He calls himself DJ Run, to this day. He was a DJ, because he still follows that rule. Grandmaster Caz, who I feel is the GOAT of this s###, everybody started rapping because of him. The styles because of him, he’s the beginning of that s###. He was a DJ, all of the rappers back then, the MCs were DJs, so I’ll followed that, so, I used to DJ and rap at the same time. On the turntable, I had a mic, catch the record, be rapping at the same time while I’m catching the beat, jump on the keyboard, play whatever break I’m playing on the keyboard, I did everything.
AllHipHop: Definitely, a lot of people may not know this, but you toured with Jay-Z and you were his DJ. What was that experience like? Jay-Z by some standards as the goat, he’s at the top of every list somewhere, always in the top five.
DJ Scratch: He’s definitely a goat.
AllHipHop: Yeah, what was your experience like with him?
DJ Scratch: It was fun, man. Shout out to the whole Roc-A-Fella back then. Jay-Z, he likes to laugh, and this is when him and Dame was still together, him, Dame and Biggs, they loved to laugh, they cracked jokes all day long. So it was just jokes all day long, that’s it, all day long. Jay, he was actually receptive to advice, me giving him advice about performing. I don’t know if you’ve seen Jay-Z’s performances before he went through the roof, Jay’s laid back, so he’s just going to sit and just chill and just do his show. And I told him, when we first started doing shows, I was like, yo, you don’t have to move too much because that’s not you, you laid back. I said, but just let the crowd know that you are enjoying your music and they will enjoy you.
AllHipHop: Absolutely, So let’s go back just a little bit, man. Most of us were introduced to you by EPMD, what’s your status with them now? There was a lot of friction a few years ago.
DJ Scratch: Nah, we’re cool, I spoke to Erick yesterday as a matter of fact, we’re cool. We haven’t done any shows yet, we haven’t done any shows since 2015. But we in talks, because it was just all really business, and the reason why I even made the post back then, because promoters were calling me when they see them (EPMD), and I’m not there, but the promoters not knowing that I’m not there. So I didn’t want the promoters to think that I’m not showing up to shows, which is bad business, because these promoters booked me for DJ gigs as well. And just like when anything happens, everybody’s calling your phone, you’re tired of saying the same story, explaining over and over. So I’m like, let me just put this post out here so they’ll know exactly what’s going on. “We’re not doing shows together, this is why I’m not missing shows, they’re doing the shows without me, and it’s cool.”
AllHipHop: How’s Erick’s health? I know he recently announced an addiction to opioids and has been clean for a while. Did you have to deal with that?
DJ Scratch: Yeah.
AllHipHop: Okay, so was that a problem for the business? Or even personal, forget the business.
DJ Scratch: It wasn’t a problem business wise, Erick got up and did his job. It was just you worried about his health. Just like anybody else that you know that’s dealing with an addiction, you’re worried about their health. But there was never a business problem with him dealing with that.
AllHipHop: That’s one of the biggest things people don’t understand is, like, “Yo, why didn’t somebody do something? Why didn’t somebody say something?” Because they got to come to that moment on their own.
DJ Scratch: Because you could take somebody and drop them off in rehab, but it’s still on them to do it. I know a couple of friends, just personal friends who went through alcohol addiction, and they have to go to rehab. You can talk to them until you blue in the face, but at the end of the day, it’s up to them to actually do it. And you got to put in that work and do it. And Erick, when he posted it, I was like, “Oh s###.” I commented, I’m like, “Yo, I’m proud of you, you finally went and got help, I’m proud of you.” But yeah, Erick is good, he’s good, man.
AllHipHop: What happens if The Hit Squad (Powerful collective of rappers – EPMD, Das EFX, Redman, K-Solo, Knucklehedz) doesn’t break up?
DJ Scratch: We’d be like Wu-Tang. I would say Redman, Solo… And we would’ve actually build on and bring more artists in as well. Because it was the same formula that RZA and Divine used for Wu-Tang. Get artists, put them on different labels and just run the industry. So I think we would be where Wu-Tang is right now.
AllHipHop: And competitively, Raekwon says it a lot, they were looking at the Hit Squad. All right, we got somebody for him, we got somebody for him.
AllHipHop: I think we need a EPMD movie, man.
DJ Scratch: Oh, absolutely, a biopic, definitely.
AllHipHop: We had a few years of good movies, and then once “Straight Outta Compton” happened, it was like, all right, we’re done, that was the pinnacle. We had a couple on Lifetime stuff like that, nothing that was really big budget.
DJ Scratch: And that’s why the Wu-Tang show is so special. Even though we lost Ol’ Dirty, but most of the group is still here to actually tell their story. But yeah, definitely, there should be a EPMD movie.
AllHipHop: Yeah, Run DMC too.
DJ Scratch: Yeah, Absolutely, Run DMC. Before we lose anybody else. And I think because Hip-Hop is only in its 50th year, and I think what maybe 25 of that, we started actually learning the business. So I think we should start telling our own stories. We don’t have to do it the way Hollywood usually does s###, when the person is gone. We can actually do this s### while they’re still alive, so we can tell the story the way, the right way like Ray Charles. Ray Charles was alive when that movie was being made, that’s why it came out so great. Why can’t we do that with Hip-Hop?
AllHipHop: We definitely can, who would you have play you?
DJ Scratch: Who would I have played me? I would have Rusty Juxx play me, because everybody say he looks like a younger me. So I would have Rusty Juxx, so you got to learn how to DJ and s###. But I would have Rusty Juxx play me.
AllHipHop: Dope MC, all right. So he got to start learning how to DJ. You can go to the Scratch Academy for that.
Stay tuned for more from the legendary DJ Scratch. Check him out at ScratchVision.