I don’t believe in excuses so I’ll just apologize to you all and DJ Scratch for waiting this long to put out part 2 of our interview. But after you read it you’ll see that it’s just as timeless as his catalog.
Nodfactor.com: One signature of your beats are horns but they’re not like Pete Rock horns. They’re more like stabs.
DJ Scratch: My horns are stabs, you said it exactly. Pete Rock and Large Professor are the masters at horn (samples). They would take a horn and put it in all the pads and fade it down and bring it back up (mimmicks sound) da-da-da-da…I use them as stabs.
They add this dramatic element, which is why I guess you do a lot of album intros. Is that on purpose?
A lot of beats, especially with Busta, I would make a beat and I wouldn’t give him the beat unless he put it for an intro. In that first Busta run a lot of my shit sounded like movies, or a big event was about to happen. I’d tell him ‘you can’t put this shit in the middle of your album. You can’t even rhyme on this shit. This has to be the intro to your album.’ Intros are very important to an album. That’s the presentation of something great about to happen. A lot of my shit sounded like that.
I like that intro to Pharoahe’s Internal Affairs. You mentioned once that there was a “Right Here” Remix with Xzibit?
At the time Pharoahe got sued for the Godzilla sample so that deaded anything else moving from his album. But we did a West Coast edition with the same beat.
Now, there are also three different remixes to Busta’s “New York Shit”?
We did a Midwest remix with Common and Twista, a Dirty South with Three 6 Mafia, Slim Thug and Rick Ross and Rick Ross killed it! And we did a West Coast shit remix with Snoop and Dre. We did a New York Shit Remix with M.O.P. and Nas. I have all of them in my possession except the Snoop and Dre.
It’s funny how and where music ends up. How did you get those tracks on Phrenology?
Rock You – The Roots
I did two songs for Black Thought’s solo and he ended up putting them on Phrenology. For “Rock You”I’m a huge Bruce Lee fan and I was watching Fists Of Fury and I chopped up his whole fight scene: The punches, the kicks, the sword and just made a beat out of it. Just thinking to the left. I have a lot of beats like that but a lot of artists are scared of that and don’t understand it.
After all of these years you’re finally putting out an album. Tell me about, “Something To Spit To.”
It’s something I’ve always wanted to put out there. I’m putting some class A grade shit and make it different from all the other instrumental albums out there so I put skits on the album. The concept is that all of my producer friends and DJ friends are calling congratulating me for putting out an instrumental album and my MC friends are calling mad that I’m giving away these beats. After every beat there’s a phone call. Premier starts it off congratulating me and then LL calls in saying how I can give away these beats after I’ve charged him all this goddamn money for a track. I have DJ Premier, Pete Rock, Just Blaze, Diamond D, Alchemist, Kid Capri, Clark Kent, Spinderella, LL, Busta, DJ Cocoa Channel, Bumpy Knuckles and Da Beatminerz. All of these people are on this album are my real friends that I respect.
The DJ Premier drop they use is my voice from a skit on a Gang Starr album when everybody called in, “Aight Chill.” That drop has been used for everything with me saying “Premier-Premier-Premier-Premier” so he’s returning the favor. That’s my dude.
I sent out an email at around 1pm to everyone that’s on my album telling them to call this number and give your thoughts on me doing this album. By 8pm everybody called and did what I asked them to do.
You get asked to test a lot of DJ equipment before it comes out. So what are your thoughts on Serato?
When they first came out with Serato I wasn’t fuckin with it because it wasn’t accurate. For example, if you were scratching a record the cue point would move. It would drift. After like five updates they made a program in the Serato so you can adjust it to respond like real vinyl. I didn’t start using it til I started DJing for Puff. A lot of the stuff he wanted me to play wasn’t available on vinyl. He’d want me to play instrumentals of Biggie and No Way Out and I had to learn it while I was on tour. Even now I haven’t converted all of my vinyl to MP3s. The Serato shit is good, but it has its good and its bad. No you don’t have to carry crates of records but the bad thing is that it’s computer based and computers crash no matter what.
Fortunately mine hasn’t crashed but also, the main bad thing is that every body and their mother thinks they’re a DJ. Don’t get me wrong, the more DJs the better. But there are DJs now that have never owned one piece of vinyl and they’re getting booked over real DJs. And the new wave is these damn rappers that are becoming DJs because of Serato. If Jay-Z wanted to become a DJ right now he would get booked before me, DJ Premier, Jazzy Jeff or Cash Money. Not because he’s a dope DJ but they’ll hope he performs some of his songs. He could be a terrible fucking DJ. That’s part of the power struggle now. My whole thing is if rappers, if you’re gonna do this DJ shit, respect it. Respect this house. Ya’ll don’t respect the DJs when they’re DJing for your motherfuckin asses. You don’t want to put the DJ on the record cover, you don’t want to give the DJ royalties, or sign them to the same deal you have, but now you want to become a DJ because your career is over. So when you come over into our realm just respect this DJ shit.
Why haven’t you done more mixtapes?
The main reason I didn’t jump into the mixtape game is that the public makes more money off of your mixtape than you do, which didn’t make sense to me. I’ll make a beat for somebody and when it sells I get revenue, publishing, royalties. That lasts forever. You put out a mixtape and the only money you get for a mixtape is when you sell the master for x amount of dollars. But they take it and sell it out of their stores and make way more money off of it than you did. For example Kid Capris’ 52 Beats mixtape that he made 20 years ago is still selling and he don’t get a dime. They got Clue tapes from ’95 still selling over there and he don’t see a dime off of that. I do a beat and I get royalties for ever. I get licensed in a movie and that’s more money.
I’ll do one once every two years or so when I do one I want it to last. Like the EPMD Handle Your Business mixtape, people already have them but you flip it in your own special way. The concept mixtapes last forever.
The crazy shit is that I remember when mixtapes were actual mixtapes. When I found out that the mixtapes were done in the studio like a song that’s when I got turned off from it. DJ Clue is the dude that took mixtapes to a whole other level. Everyone needs to thank him. He didn’t start it, but he made it mainstream. But I went to one of his sessions and there was no turntables and dudes was recording like it was a regular song. They was like “hold up, I fucked up, punch me in.” It wasn’t even Pro Tools then, it was a two-inch. It’s a mix session, not a mix tape.
So when will we finally see this documentary on your life?
It’s hard because I’m still filming. I have twenty year old footage. The only reason I didn’t put it out is that I didn’t have enough current footage and my quest hasn’t stopped. So I got footage from me DJing for Puff and Snoop on the Puff Puff Pass tour, the TV show. I’m starting to buckled down and edit and should have something by the fall.