- Scratch DJ Academy
434 Sixth Avenue, second fl, 212-529-1599; scratch.com
Founded in 2002 by Jam Master Jay, Rob Principe, and Reg E. Gaines, co-writer of Bring In ’Da Noise, Bring In ’Da Funk, Scratch is the only place in the city where hip-hoppers can find a structured curriculum on how to scratch, spin, and mix. The six-week beginner’s course, D.J. 101 ($300), meets once a week; each class is taught by a different instructor, including D.J. Evil Dee, a producer for Eminem, and Max Glazer, who spins at P. Diddy’s parties. Students pair up and scratch through headphones while a beat booms on loudspeakers and plenty of helpers in Scratch T-shirts circulate. They learn skills in battling and beat-matching as well as historical tidbits from the always-enthusiastic Principe on the lost art of the needle drop: “It’s near impossible and you’ll never learn it, but occasionally the old-school guys come in and do it and it’s mind-blowing.” Best of all, the course fee includes unlimited access to the facility, and to the megastars who chill there and professional equipment that would cost $1,500 to buy on your own. In the two years since Scratch started giving classes, alums have gone on to spin at the Bowery Ballroom and the Park (D.J. Vlad, popular local mix-tape D.J., honed his scratching technique here). But their greatest success stories are average schmos. “One night I was walking by the private-lesson rooms and started getting into this great mix of A Tribe Called Quest and Dr. Dre,” says the academy’s director, David Perpich. “I thought it was Johnny Walker Red, who teaches beginners and is in Funkmaster Flex’s Big Dawg Pit Bull Crew. Then I looked in and it was this nerdy 35-year-old white doctor.”
Best D.J. Training
From the 2004 Best of New York issue of New York Magazine
So what exactly does “best” mean in a city with thousands of pizza joints, hundreds of celebrity masseuses, and museum-worthy concept shops on every corner? Well, in the case of this, our annual “Best of New York” roundup, there’s a heavy emphasis on what’s new or what has somehow remained virtually unheard of (until now, of course).