LL Cool J has announced a hip-hop festival at Forest Hills Stadium in Queens this summer. And unsurprisingly, he asked his friend and longtime collaborator DJ Scratch to participate. This is one of many projects that Scratch is juggling these delays.
He beats for some of the biggest names in hip-hop, tours, scratches and produces platinum albums. But even with a new radio show on SiriusXM, DJ Scratch knows he has to constantly reinvent himself.
“Every three years is a time in hip hop. So every three years, the whole climate changes. So you have to understand and stay on top,” Scratch said at Sirius/XM Studios in Manhattan.
Born George Spivey, the Brooklyn native started out in the 80s as a club DJ and quickly found ways to stand out.
“I started doing crazy stuff that I do, cutting with my elbows, my feet. Scratch me with my back, my elbow. Stood above the turntables,” Scratch said of those early days.
He opened up to bands like Run-DMC, then joined EPMD. Over the next 30 years he DJed and produced for DMX, Jay Z, Diddy, Snoop Dogg, Wu-Tang Clan, LL Cool J and many more. And as LL grew his Rock The Bells channel, he asked Scratch to be a part of it.
“‘I want you to do a show’ and I’m like, sure, you know, LL is like a brother to me. So I’m like, ‘Absolutely. Let’s do it,'” Scratch recalled.
Scratch is also a DJ for the VERZUZ battle rap and vocal series created by Timbaland and Swizz Beatz on Instagram Live at the start of the pandemic.
“Before social networks, you had to go to the radio, then you had to go to the record stores. Now with social media it connects us directly with our fans, with the people who have really supported our careers over the years,” Scratch said of how social media has helped him. , him and the others.
And while DJs have often gone from rap music stars to backing musicians, Scratch is still a sought-after DJ and prolific beatmaker, creating music for rappers. And he says every beat can only go to the rapper he has in mind.
“Once the beat is done, I find out who it looks like. “Okay, that sounds like something Snoop would rap about,” so I’ll send it to Snoop. I can just sit at the table. When I stand up, a creak in the chair will be like, ‘yo, what was that noise?’ You get up and it’s an idea! I’ll put a mic on it and sample that and then boom, there’s a beat,” Scratch said of the many places he finds inspiration.
Seeing that idea was still up for grabs, I asked if the sound of the chair could be mine.
“You can have a co-production on that,” Scratch said with a laugh.
It’s hard to know exactly when this next three-year cycle will end, but Scratch has just produced a brand new album with longtime friend and collaborator, Wu-Tang clan leader The RZA.
“As a Wu-Tang fan, I want to hear the sound of Wu-Tang. I want to hear the kung fu sketches, the kung fu dialogues, the sound that made us fall in love with Wu-Tang. I wanted so bringing that sound back while I was producing this album and of course infusing my signature sound as well,” Scratch said.
And he knows how to stay relevant, he must always be open to new ideas, technologies, collaborations and inspirations. The infamous shower scene in the movie “Psycho” inspired his work on Busta Rhymes’ “Gimme Some More.”
“I went and found that scene and sampled that part, and it became one of the biggest hits of my career,” Scratch said.
Maybe the chair sound is next!
The DJ Scratch Show is Saturday at 6 p.m.
The Rock The Bells festival will take place on August 6 at Forest Hills Stadium.