Roots Member Scratch Explain Vocal Scratching

Scratch, the

member of the Philadelphia based Roots crew, is preparing to drop his solo debut,

The Embodiment of Instrumentation. According to the human beatbox, or in

his words, vocal percussionist, he is rooted in hip-hop’s past, but attempting

to raise the art.

Distinguishing himself from other vocalists, Scratch is best known for his ability

to simulate a DJ scratching a record. “I got practically every sound that

you could do with a record as far as it being scratched on a turntable,”

he said. “From scratching words to scratching drums to scratching any sound


According to Scratch, born Kyle Jones, his formative teen years were spent in

Philly listening to shows like Power 99’s Street Beat on Sunday morning.

There, he says, he heard the various styles of beatboxing from legends like

Dougie Fresh, The Fat Boys’ Buffy and Biz Markie. In 1990, after honing

his own beatboxing skills for several years, he met what would later become

The Roots in, his current crew.

When he became a member of The Roots, recording became a particularly odd issue

because Scratch’s voice sounds so uncannily like real song that they had

to be cleared legally for him to use them. Many of them were never cleared,

ultimately due to issues related to publishing. Those issues never bothered

Scratch, he said. “I’m cool with that,” he said. “When you

see me, I want you to be like, ‘It’s like the boy had turntables on


Scratch said he aims to take beatboxing to the forefront, similar to Rahzel,

another Roots affiliate. “I did my album because I am tired of the beatboxer

always being on the sideline.” The Embodiment of Instrumentation

features Jill Scott, Black Thought, Dice Raw, Malik B and a host of others.