Published on December 3rd, 2013 | by Vekked4
Vekked’s Top 10 Scratch Routines
The other guest contributors for the Top 10 Tuesday segment are still working on their ideas so I’m dropping my own Top 10 this week. These are my top 10 favourite battle scratch routines, not including stuff that wasn’t done in battle. These aren’t in exact order except for the top 2 are probably my actual 2 favourites. Here we go…
10. I-Emerge – 2002 Hardcore MFing Scratchin
This routine is like the definition of “raw” for me. Not many DJs have enough style in their cuts to pull off such a bare bones routine like this over a straight drum break, but there’s something about Merge’s style that lets him pull it off. He has a nice combo of catchy lyrics cutting and aggressive solo cuts.
Routine starts at 1:10 here:
I like this routine for much the same reason as the above I-Emerge one. Klever just has outstanding style and speed that makes his solo cutting interesting. He does so many different techniques at a crazy high level, and it’s even crazier that it was 2001. He was worlds above all other battle DJs at scratching at that time, and I don’t think he was really topped for years to come… I can’t think of anyone who has done faster chirps/stabs in DMC until maybe Vajra 2011. Not to mention he was busting 3 and 4 click flare patterns 12 years ago. Crazy.
Routine starts at 2:13:
8. Netik – 2002 Super Dynamite Cuttin
Between all of his winning sets Netik has too many good routines but this 2002 scratch routine with Gangsta Breaks is still my favourite. So incredibly clean (as with every Netik scratch routine ever), and the composition is super sick. The samples in that scratch sentence are kind of weird by themselves but he makes them all work together and flow. Very catchy and musical but also sick technically. I’m not sure if there is a cleaner scratcher than Netik out there.
Starts at 6:10:
7. Craze – 1998 ITF 6/8 time cut routine
As far as 90s scratch routines, this one takes the cake as the best for me. Most cut routines in the 90s were pretty unrefined and really heavily freestyle without the same level of composition that juggles at. Craze changed that, this routine is clearly composed pretty much from start to finish and sounds like a piece of music. His cuts are super funky on this beat, his flow sounds even better on this than his routines on normal 4/4 beats at that time. He fits so many cool ideas into it. I love the fader melody + beat cuts he does, and the tone routine + reversed beat at the end is just nuts.
Routine starts at 3:23:
6. Wundrkut – 2006 Synth Routine
The first time I saw this live at the 2006 Canadian finals my mind was blown. Sooo musical and well composed, and the craziest part is he’s using an original track and flipped the intro sample into an entire composition. I’ve always thought this was one of the most under-rated scratch routines, possibly because he didn’t place at the world finals and pretty much the only way you could see it for a long time was if you bought the DVD. It’s my #1 favourite Canadian scratch routine. I love the way he composed it all the way through, going straight from playing the intro sample into the cut routine when he drops the beat, and the multiple break downs in the middle and back to the “hook” part that he started off on. Musical and creative through and through.
Synthy goodness at 4:33 –
5. Dexta – 2000 DMC Jazz routine
His entire 6 minute was genius, but the jazz scratch routine in the middle is still my favourite part. The first time I saw it I lost my mind. There are just so many cool parts to it with the beat changes, and also the sample changes from the horns to the singing and back again. He tailors the sample selection and cutting style to the energy of the beat so well and fits so many different sections in without it feeling choppy. I still love this routine and it’s even sicker when you put it in the context of 2000 when people weren’t even doing much melody scratching outside of battles yet, and in battles people were rinsing battle records really hard for most scratch routines. Dexta was pushing some boundaries for sure.
Starts at 1:50
4. Tigerstyle – 2003 Radiohead routine
This routine struck a chord with me the first time I saw it because I was listening to a lot of Radiohead at the time, so when he dropped the sample I was like sick I know this song, and then when he started flipping it my jaw dropped. It’s just such a unique twist on a well known sample, and not something I’d at all expect to be used in a battle routine. I’ve never seen a sample flipped quite like that either, a lot of little pitch changed and he’s using like every part of the turntable/mixer that he can. His cuts on the 6/8 are wild too, a nice balance of aggression and musicality.
My favourite footage of this is from the 2003 DMC Supremacy but I can’t find it online so this will have to do:
3. Dopey – 2003 Jazz Routine
If it’s not obvious by now, I really like musical routines that flip original samples, haha. I mean, that’s pretty much everything that makes the turntable a cool instrument in the first place… we can take stuff that was meant to be a certain way, and flip it into something completely different. This routine is no exception. The entire routine routine is just so memorable, I can pretty much sing it from start to finish in my head. The hook is so funky, and his 1-handed hydroplanes and platter rubs sound so fresh. Not to mention he works in beat cuts on pretty much every 2nd bar throughout the entire routine to give it even more variation.
2. Rafik – 2004 ITF Scratch Category
There’s probably 6 different scratch routines from Rafik that deserve a spot on any top 10 scratch routine list, but this one is still my favourite. Rafik has a really cool/unique way of flipping melodies and he rocks a few different ones in this one. My favourite part is when he goes into the guitar and hits all the pitch controls with fader cuts in between… so sick! He manages to get really technical with melodic samples and incorporates advanced cuts without taking away from the musicality of it, which is tough to do. Plenty of guys seem to scratch melody samples the same way that they would scratch ahh or fresh and don’t really do justice to the unique qualities of the sample. Rafik cuts them up in a way that takes advantage of the sound and doesn’t just treat it like any generic sample, but also keeps it technically interesting for the scratch nerds and battle judges.
1. Woody – 2002 Little Samba
This one gets my GOAT scratch routine award. Much like some of the other routines I posted he’s taking an original sample and flipping it, but Woody takes this one into another dimension. There’s just so much to this routine, and he takes advantage of the PDX pitch features like no one else ever has. He takes 1 horn line and gets like 20 different melodies out of it. He uses a bunch of different platter speeds to hit different pitches, but still keeps it all in time. On top of it all, the routine is super complex and contains tons of technical stuff, but it never feels like any of it is done for the sake of being technical, or for the sake of getting extra points with judges. It’s a musical, beautifully composed routine that just happens to be super technical as well. That’s how it should be anyways… a routine should be tough because in order to achieve the sound you wanted, you had to do something difficult. Not just that you wanted to make it more technical for the sake of being technical even if it doesn’t sound as good. Another part of this routine that I think puts it above and beyond the other melodic routines I posted is that nearly all of the other ones are using fairly basic drums beats with maybe a bit of bass, whereas Woody’s cutting on a melody over a full instrumental with tons of melody of its own and he’s still making it work. That’s yet another hurtle in itself.
So there’s my top 10 favourite scratch routines off the top of my head, I probably forgot a few. I don’t think it’s a coincidence either that my 2 favourite routines are using ultrapitch and other features that aren’t available on 1200s… I think we’d see a lot more creative going on if DMC allowed decks other than 1200s.
Let me know any of your favourites routine that I didn’t mention in the comments below!