Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Ultimate Tribute To Scratching

Let me start with some back story here, for those of you who aren't fully versed in the legend. "A Tribute To Scratching" was a fresh showcase of Cutmaster Cool V's scratching that appeared on Biz Markie's debut album, Goin' Off. Rather famously, another "Tribute To Scratching" was played on the radio back in the day. Dubbed "A Tribute To Scratching Pt. 2," this version has often been heralded as superior to the original. This version features a lot of Jackson 5 records (there'll be more on this as we go along), and it's a common theory that only Tim Westwood has the acetate of this; and other DJs were just playing cassette copies. Low quality - really, I've never heard a version that didn't sound pretty seriously awful! with WBLS promos, radio blends at the ends, and massive amounts of painfully loud hiss - radio rips have been prolifically shared since the days of tape trading, onto file sharing, and even been pressed up on vinyl (as part of the Holy Grail series).

Well, for their third, limited (to 350 hand-numbered copies... as you can see in the pic, mine's #14) 12" release, Hot Chillin' has finally unleashed this from the vaults. And they've done it in style.

We start out on side A with the original Marley Marl-produced "Tribute To Scratching." Actually, even better, we start out with a never-before-released Extended Version of "Tribute To Scratching." You're probably all familiar with this song by now... Biz rocks raps about his DJ, who cuts it up in between verses, over a phat track with the "Peter Piper" bells, the guitar riff from Whistle's "Transformation," etc. You know it, it's dope; and now it's even better in it's extended form (which is a hefty minute and a half longer than the album version).

Next we have the previously unreleased Alternate Mix. This is essentially the same beat as the original version, but features some new cuts, a new breakdown, etc. I'll have to listen to this 12" several more times before I pick a favorite between this and the Extended O.G. mix.

Third, we get the instrumental to the Alternate Mix. To clarify, this instrumental keeps all of Cool V's scratches; just none of Biz's vocals.

Since "Tribute To Scratching" has never seen 12" release before, the above already qualifies this as a dope 12" worthy of Hot Chillin' status. But it's the B-side everyone's been waiting for.

We start off with "A Tribute To Scratching pt. 2," or as we now know it's officially titled,"A Tribute To Scratching (J 5 Mix)!" Here it is, finally, in pristine quality taken from the original masters in Marley's vaults. If you haven't heard this mix before, it doesn't feature Biz's raps... it's just Cool V going off cutting up classic vocal samples and of course Jackson 5 grooves. It's completely different than the album version; and it's a revelation to hear it in pristine quality after all these years.

But then we get a whole new version that nobody but I guess Marley, Biz and Cool even knew existed - a Marvin Gaye mix! Once again, it's completely different - it's essentially "A Tribute To Scratching pt. 3!" It features just a brief appearance by Biz at the start letting us know that this is a tribute to Marvin Gaye, and that Cool V's gonna get funky. Then Cool V proceeds to unleash all new cuts and samples over Marvin records, including a lot of "What's Going On." And thanks to the label's credits, we now know what we pretty much already assumed: that all the remix versions were produced by Marley as well.

Finally, the 12" (more an EP rather than a single) is rounded out with the acapella for Biz's rhymes from the original version. ...Oh, and did I mentioned that the sleeve is signed by Marley Marl? Hot Chillin' outdid themselves with this release.

Now, you may remember one caveat I had to make in my write-up of the previous Hot Chillin' releases... and I'm pleased to say they've fixed that issue, too. No longer mailing their records in bubble envelopes(!); HC shipped these in proper, safe cardboard boxes; and their shipping rates are much more reasonable, too (last time it was $30 for two copies within the US). I also received another nice bonus in my package; but I'm not sure if everybody's getting one or if I just got lucky, so I'll hold off on talking about that. But suffice it to say: Hot Chillin' have topped themselves in more ways than one, and all the rumors have been resolved in the best possible way.

I don't know how long they'll last (it's a bit pricier than previous HC releases, so that might slow 'em down a little), but you can get copies from their site, here. And, hey, wait; there's still one last thing... Tucked away in a tiny nook on their website is a note about an upcoming, extra-limited "special edition," which reads, "As we are celebrating a special release, we have decided to release a further amount of 50 copies accompanied by special artwork. These 50 copies are considered to be a separate release and will be numbered differently. More information on pricing and artwork will follow soon."


  1. good lord! im dying to hear this but unfortunately i dont have 75 CENTS to be buying records with much less $75!!

  2. yeah, I think it's about time for Werner to start posting at least audio snippets of the things he posts about. If he posted about things you could (often) find at a record store, or even online, it would be different. But a write up on an album that only 100 people own and I'll never see if fairly useless to me.

  3. Sounding good looking forward to my copy now!! :-)

    peace and respect from Skim in the Uk

  4. Something that everyone should now thanks for sharing it in net. Nice one.

  5. @nick - I posted a link where you can order this one from.

    True, every so often it's a record that's ultra-super rare... but if it wasn't possible to get even the rarest stuff, I wouldn't have it to blog about. ;) Anyway, I like to think info about good hip-hop is never "useless" to a head who really cares about the music.

    Having to make snippets of everything I post about would really reduce my output. Plus, personally, when I read other blogs, I always skip the mp3 links. I just want the info, then I'm on the hunt for the record (or if it's not something I want so much; I just learn & move on). It's like the "Phat Tape" in The Source... they posted the track-listing, but they didn't give you the tape; that part was up to you.

    But they have made it easier to record sound with your iphone and stuff recently... so maybe the days are coming when I can just quickly record a snippet and phone it to my blog without having to go through a 20-step process. Then I could be talked into doing more snippets. ;)

  6. good review, thanks Werner. Only thing I have to disagree is the quality of the "Tribute To Scratching Part II" or as it´s now called "J5 Mix". For my ears this version is not in pristine quality, it sounds as if it´s ripped from one of Marleys old acetates that had too much spins on WBLS back in the days. Has a lot of hiss sounds, lil pops here and there. Unfortunately this ones not out of Marleys master vaults, but taken directly from the record. Well, thats how it sounds to me. Lil disappointing to be honest, still a dope release tho...