The story of the hip-hop DJ from the birth of hip-hop to the invention of scratching and "beat-juggling" vinyl, to the more recent "turntablism" movement. Underdogs and virtuosos who have radically changed the way we hear and create music.
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A feature-length documentary film about hip-hop DJing, otherwise known as turntablism. From the South Bronx in the 1970s to San Francisco now, the world's best scratchers, beat-diggers, party-rockers, and producers wax poetic on beats, breaks, battles, and the infinite possibilities of vinyl.Written by
To create the "scratched" sequences in the film (where a person during an interview suddenly speaks as if the film itself is being scratched), director Doug Pray sent audio clips which had been recorded onto vinyl to DJ Q-bert, who scratched them, and sent the recordings back to Pray. Pray then edited the interviews to match the scratched sound. See more »
Apologies and respect to the many great DJ's and others who we were unable to be included in this film. See more »
As one who is generally unfamiliar with the hip-hop scene but has tried spinning, the movie does a great job of presenting turntablism as an art form. It also did a good job emphasizing that hip-hop is meant to be fun, and it is by no means about the rough-and-tumble gangsta rappers of years past.
Despite the long list of DJ's listed on the marquis, this movie was pretty much about scratch deejay extrodinaires Q-bert and DJ Shadow, with cameos from many others including Afrika Bambaataa, Mix Master Mike, DJ Craze, and Grand Mixer DXT of "Rockit" fame. I got the feeling that the whole movie was just a compilation of interviews, and Q-bert happened to be the chattiest among them.
Director by Doug Pray - who previously did Hype! (about Seattle grunge of the early 90's) and American Pimp - put together a film that I thought was of much higher quality than the other dj movies "Groove" or "Better Living through Circuitry". However I found the stream of interviews, and lack of drama got a tad tedious, making the 87 minute-long movie seem more like two hours. (Of course it is a documentary).
The mediocrity of the interviews was nicely interrupted by quirky references to intergalactic beings; repeated cut-ins of the first MTV-ised scratch in "Rockit"; and some funky cinemetography that made the film visually interesting, and even funny. For scratch dj' in the know however, the presentation is begging for some of the nitty gritty how-to's that would make this documentary a bit more meaty.
My favorite scene? Record digging with DJ Shadow as he explored the dusty, low ceilinged basement archives of a record store. This scene added an element of reverence to the act searching out vintage beats, and helped me understand why Moby *hires* people to dig for him.
Although I was so fortunate to see the film at the Red Vic - right next door to Amoeba Records (featured in the film) - with a house that was probably full of SF's finest djs, This film is probably best watched at home - with decks at the ready. Even novices just might have the urge to walk away from the movie now and then to give scratching a try after watching how its supposed to be done.
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